Paul Hills’ weekly post production blog

Week 3.

0-0 half time between QPR & Sheffield Wednesday. We should be winning. I haven’t seen a game all season. I’ve not had time. Not that it’s really my sport. Motor racing is by far…

Anyway, the third week of post production comes to an end. Somehow, though, I don’t feel like I’m in post production yet. Why? Not much has really happened. Caroline has synced up 284 slates now. That still leaves 306. The sound was late getting to her as were the report sheets. She has them now. But all the picture still hasn’t been transferred properly. Some of it was done in the wrong format so it has to be redone. She is still waiting for slates 285 to 590. Over half of it.

After three weeks of post production we are now about 4 weeks behind! At this rate we will not even get a first assembly before Christmas, let alone a rough cut, directors cut or fine cut.

Williams is still missing and has all the outstanding invoices to pay! That’s just another problem until the rest of the investment arrives. Hopefully he will surface this week.

The only substantial progress we have made this week is with potential investment, paperwork and with sorting through the 6000 stills that had been taken on the film to create a definitive set of production stills. A few days ago I didn’t think the latter would happen this side of a court room.

I’ll explain.

When I got off the plane in Mallorca there was a strange text from Steve Norris waiting for me. It said “I was the second bigest mover on the imdb cos of my film showing at the tate and your blog is full of hate towards a wonderfull bunch of people when u google and it ends in a blog with our names put to shame do u think thiakovsky or bergman treated people like this my dat is my work i take shots all the time i have worked with neil jorden .think”

Firstly, I was shocked as I wasn’t aware of any hate in the blog. I mean, who could I hate? For what reason? Even Iain Dodds, the unfortunate dressing props guy who I had to sack. I don’t hate him. He’s a really nice guy.

Do I hate Steve Norris, the guy whom I frequently talked to about Tarkovsky, a kindred spirit I thought. I don’t hate anyone on the film! Why should I? They were all absolutely wonderful. I’d even go so far as to say I love them. The kind of love derived from a shared bond, like in a successful football team or a combat unit returning from the front.

The number of texts and e mails I have had by people who have been inspired and even moved to tears by the creative struggle depicted in the blog, a struggle we all went through, is considerable. If he had said I was egotistical I’d accept it. That’s just the flip side of self belief! But hateful! Hate! HATE! How ridiculous!

That was the first text. Myself and Jonnie were subjected to a 12 hour barrage of increasingly surreal, offensive and mean spirited texts until finally I sent him one back saying “Do not ever contact me again”. Jonnie eventually decided to just ignore them.

It seems that on each film I’ve done someone goes off the rails afterwards as if they are suffering from post traumatic stress disorder or the making of the film is the final thing that pushes them over the edge. On The Frontline it was the Art Director who went nuts afterwards. On Boston Kickout the grip, who was a brilliant, disappeared without a trace straight after the wrap party never to be seen by anyone EVER again. On The Poet my fantastic script supervisor had a nervous breakdown right at the end. I hope that this is not the case with Steve!

His gripe is that his DAT machine went missing at the wrap party. Why it was taken there I don’t know. But he was given it back by Williams after shooting and he took it to the wrap party. He lost it there. We can try and do an insurance claim. Williams can do that once we get hold of him but what else can we do? The question is does the insurance cover a wrap party? It’s not a working situation, it’s a social situation and it’s after the film has finished shooting. We will see. I honestly don’t know.

His threat to us in texts was that he would withhold the photos until we got him a new DAT recorder. Of course we have a contract with him covering his services as a stills photographer. It was blatant blackmail on something out of our hands nor within our control.

Luckily, on Friday, the photos finally arrived along with a note from Steve apologising to me and Jonnie. I don’t know why he had freaked out so dramatically. All I know is that It certainly isn’t the way I would ask someone to help me recover my DAT recorder!

Can I forgive him? Roger probably would. For me, I can’t help thinking how he could do it? How he could be so full of anger towards me, towards Jonnie, towards the film. How he could want to damage it. Without his photographs the deliverables on the film would be bare and thus the marketing materials would be greatly diminished. That could effect the possibility of release in some territories and could thus effect the revenue and it’s success.

Myself and Jonnie weren’t the only ones making the film, investing time, energy, pain and sweat. We all were. We were in it together, a tribe, a unit, a family. Why hurt the product of our labour? Why hurt all the people who gave their all, investing time and money in the film? For what also? A Dat machine!

At the party I wrote on Steve’s elephant stone “You understand the film I am trying to make more than anyone!”. I didn’t write that on Roger’s stone, not on Jonnie’s stone, not even on Julie’s stone. I wrote it on Steve’s. That’s how I felt, what I believed. Until now no-one knew that was what I wrote as they were all unique.

By chance I was booked on Thursday to give a lecture on distribution for CIDA and the NPA at Passing Clouds where we had the wrap party. I paid them the money outstanding and asked about the DAT machine. They hadn’t found a DAT machine. But they had found Steve’s elephant stone. They kept it for two and a half weeks. No-one called. No-one dropped by to pick it up. The day before I arrived they had finally thrown it out with the rubbish. When I told the owner of the club that it was a cast and crew present and how I came up with the idea while filming at Emma’s house, how I had picked it by hand at night from the stream in the forest, humped it out with the others on my back, given it to Marina to transport back to London two days before we all left, how I had done the primer and Marina had hand painted a beautiful elephant on it – each one different – she was so shocked, so upset, so gutted at what she had done. I told her not to be. It wasn’t her fault. I didn’t tell her about the message on it, one of just 37 totally personal ones written. How could I?

Now there are just 36 elephant stones left. I treasure the one Marina wrote on for me above all the other tokens from the film shoot I have.

All I feel about Steve now is sadness. Not hate.

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