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Campfire Story: The Final Cut

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Or, The Journey of Campfire Story: part 3.

This is an article I’ve been looking forward to writing for a long while now. It’s something that I knew I’d be writing in celebration of the release of ‘Campfire Story’. It has also, at times over the last few months, felt like an article that I’d never get to write.

In the last part of this series I had the pleasure of introducing you to our main cast. And in the subsequent weeks we jumped into production, and began the task of capturing around 90% of principal photography. With a talented crew and an eager cast we sailed through much of our shot lists and were well on our way to making our initial release date. Of course the movie Gods had other ideas.

 

 

We’d faced obstacles in the past of course, whether during prop hunting or location scouting. But back then those problems only affected myself and my fellow director Kris. Now, when equipment problems or weather issues held up production, we were also letting down a team of people that had agreed to lend us their time for free! This is the un-fetishized burden of directing that you don’t normally associate with the job.

Luckily, we had chosen savvy actors who were more than understanding when things didn’t exactly go to plan. Although, this was still a learning curve. Going into the film, I was confident that I had the communication skills to direct an actor to hit a mark or provide a certain delivery. But, what I hadn’t anticipated, is that when you’ve set your scene, and everyone knows their role; that your only real job on set is to keep moral up. Not exactly being an extrovert, this was a skill that didn’t come naturally to me, and one I openly acknowledge needs honing for future projects. Luckily, Kris was far better at this than me, and all in all the time we spent on set was just like hanging out with a group of friends.

 

 

 

After overcoming the inevitable hiccups we moved into post-production. Unless you are lucky enough to have access to a talented editor, chances are you are going to cut your first film together yourself. Again, like directing, this can seem like a daunting task if it’s your first crack at the whip. However, circling back to the first in this series of articles on making a short film, if you have penned the script yourself, you’vealready done most of the groundwork.

Writing is editing. Editing is writing. Whoever said that editing a film is when you write your final draft was spot on. Whilst I was lucky to have a master of the technology by my side in Kris, I have to admit that as a writer I felt more at home in the editing room than behind the camera.

 

 

So, we sailed through much of the process and seemed well under way to meet our slightly later, but still imminent, deadline. This was when our Sophie’s choice presented itself. Certain film festivals including BaftaCymru had approached us, eager for ‘Campfire Story’ to be entered into their competitions. This was a great opportunity, but during the editing process it became apparent that we needed some pick up shots in order to make ‘Campfire Story’ as cinematic as we felt it deserved to be. This meant depriving our flick of some of the publicity associated with those competitions, in order to make the best possible version of ‘Campfire Story’.

It was a horrible decision, but one we made together and were prepared to stand or fall by together. Ironically, the pick up shots we needed took us back to where we shot our very first scenes in West Wales. But, with the movie Gods well and truly deciding to turn the knife in our backs, we were forced to go there without an actor, and without our drone pilot. This is when one of the most beautiful and spontaneous moments of the whole process happened. We were hunkered down in a rocky cove in West Wales. Yours truly was forced to stand in as an actor, which forced me to wear a heavy leather jacket and a stuffy mask on one of the hottest days of the year. We were there filming, making the most of the shots available, but secretly lamenting the loss of the one drone shot we had our heart’s set onopening the film.  It was at that moment, blind and covered in sweat, that I heard a curious wiring sound. I took off my mask at looked at Kris. It couldn’t be. We eventually dared to utter the words; ‘Is that … a drone?’

 

 

In hindsight, I felt slightly bad for the drone pilot, who was on holiday at the time, and must have feared for his life when he saw two guys running towards him, one holding a camera, the other dressed up in some kind of leather fetish costume. But thankfully, he listened to our story and agreed to film the drone shots we needed and send them over to us. Finally, we had a streak of freak luck to add to our list of recent setbacks.

This experience highlighted what I’d already come to learn about film making, which is that is it simultaneously a process of meticulous planning and flexible spontaneity. ‘Campfire Story’ is certainty a combination of both. From page to screen this has been a process that I’ve almost spent a year of my life on, and at the end I’m happy to report that I can’t imagine a more fulfilling use of time and energy. God knows it took a lot of both!

Finally, I have to once more thank our amazing cast and all those who helped us along the way. This film belongs to you as much as it does us. As individuals and artists you have left your own unique signature on ‘Campfire Story’. It took longer than anticipated, but the process has been unforgettable. I hope our ambitious little comedy horror serves to shine a light on your abundant talents!

 

 

So, do I still mean what I said in the first article; that everyone should make their own short film? Absolutely! ‘Campfire Story’ was a combination of a good story and an almost delusional level of determinationto see it come to life. If you have both of those ingredients, the rest is just fine print in the grand scheme of things. It’s my hope that this series of articles are the final nudge that force some of you out there to take the risk and put your own scripts into production. If you do, then I’d love to hear from you. In fact, I’d love to hear you pose the question I asked in my first article, ‘will you watch what I’ve already made?’

In the mean time I hope you enjoy ‘Campfire Story’. If you do, please use it as a means to evangelise about indie film. That’s a picture wrap for me.

 

Here is Campfire Story in full:


Campfire Story - A short horror Film from Fine Rolling Media on Vimeo.




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