MAKING JESS//JIM (in 24 hours)

At the beginning of September I was asked by my agent if I might be interested in making a short film in 24 hours. Initially I was worried because it was immediately before flying out to shoot the Cloud Control video (below) and I didn’t want to take on too much in such a short space of time. Then more details started to filter through. Production would be overseen by Kevin Spacey, the film would be shot by Danny Cohen B.S.C and would also feature Toby Kebbell. It was an opportunity I couldn’t refuse.

There was absolutely no prep allowed so a few days after I got the call I turned up at a hotel in Waterloo and met Alice Birch, our brilliant writer and Michelle Craig, a good friend of mine and producer on this project. After a whistle stop tour of Waterloo courtesy of Mr Spacey, we then met with several actors from Old Vic New Voices, all of whom were told to bring a special item and to reveal a special skill. We then had to build these characteristics or props into the script.

We had four hours to think of an idea and write the script. Luckily me and Alice were on the same page from the start. We both wanted to do something simple, humorous and touching and having already seen the actors, we had a springboard to write characters quickly. We decided on the idea of two people that feel slightly lost in a big city but are able to connect in some way. We wanted to make a film about friendship primarily.

By the time the 4 hours were up we had a pretty good structure, strong characterisation and some nice pieces of dialogue. Aside from this I really wanted Toby to play a kind of stoner flatmate character as I hadn’t seen him do that much comedy and I knew he was capable of it.  We worked in one of the special props to add to this (an enormous courgette).

After the writing process and casting the actors, we then went straight to a production meeting at a restaurant across the road. It was here I got to meet Danny (DOP) for the first time, only an hour or so before we started shooting. We talked about keeping things achievable and lightweight in the beginning to give us more time later on. Choices like keeping dressing times to a minimum and keeping the camera handheld and portable were things that enabled us to focus on performances and getting stuff shot quickly as any time we lost we’d have to also lose in the edit later on.

We then headed to the location and started shooting, Michelle and Elliot (Production Manager) had managed to get a great house location at extremely short notice. A lot of the rooms were already dressed in a really interesting way which made life much easier in terms of shooting quickly and efficiently. After the interior/exterior stuff here, we headed over to the Southbank to shoot another scene before returning to the residential street where we started; to catch dusk. At around 7am me and Michelle jumped in a cab to go see Johnny Rayner (Editor) who had begun working on the synced rushes.

The fatigue was starting to set in a bit, especially as at the beginning of the process I’d been quite ill with the flu. Bizarrely though, as the night went on and with a plethora of remedies coursing through my body, I started to feel better and better. By the time we’d started cutting I was totally excited and adrenalised. Thanks to everyone on twitter who suggested remedies that morning.

After some time we were told that the 24 hours was up and we’d literally just laid down the last shot in the sequence. To speed things up and help Johnny out I’d designed the title cards separately as we went along so they were ready straight away but it was still a huge challenge to get the film into shape.

Despite working quickly, we still had to jump in another cab with the film to get it to the Old Vic on time for the premiere. In the end we got there and the film was received with laughs and cheers and applause which was a surreal but lovely feeling to experience after being severely sleep deprived and exhausted.

After the manic pandemonium of those 24 hours we subsequently graded the film and it is finally out for all to see over on my website.

A  monumental thank you to Michelle Craig, Johnny Rayner, Speade, Alice Birch, Edwin Metternich, Framestore, Kevin Spacey, Blair Mowat, Danny Cohen and his stellar team, The Old Vic, all the cast and crew and everyone else that worked on making this happen in 24 short hours.

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One response to “MAKING JESS//JIM (in 24 hours)

  1. Thank you so much for this great short!
    Love Toby Kebbell, he’s amazing!
    Best Regards :)

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