‘When it is lighted, come and call me here’ [day 2]

24th April 2012

Above is the clapperboard at the end of day 1. Somehow it’s reassuring that, even when all the other camera stuff is high end digital, we still need one of these totally traditional objects. Last night the digital rushes were packaged up and sent off to the editing room, where the sound and pictures were married together (‘synced’) over night. The clapperboard is used both to identify each shot and to provide an exact ‘mark’ to align the audio and pictures. Today our editor Trevor Waite will start assembling the elements we recorded yesterday. By this evening we may even have a rough version of how the final scene will play.

Back on set today, we have moved on from the spaces we were in yesterday, and now have the first of two days in what in the text is described as Brutus’ orchard. For our production – which you’ll recall is set in modern Africa – this is a breeze-block compound with palms above and, since this is nighttime, flaming pans. As we begin to rehearse the first scene, which is the exchange between Brutus and Lucius at the top of Act II Scene 1, it’s clear that the camera can conjure wonders out of the flickering light and earth-red shadows.

We are shooting for our twelve days at the same location: a sprawling abandoned shopping mall in north London. It’s sufficiently big and sufficiently spread out to allow us to shoot in one area and for the art team to be prepping in another. Everywhere there are little colonies where elements of the crew have established their base: a production office, a grips store, a props room, an area for building flats, tables for dining.

Around the day’s set temporary small encampments are established: an area (with heaters) for the cast, a place for the monitor for Greg Doran and the rest of us to se what the camera is seeing, a base for the sound kit, a desk for the DIT. (That’ll be the digital image technician, who monitors the rushes files as they come out of the camera, backs them up, does an initial rough grade – without which the raw images would look very washed out – and prepares them for the overnight syncing.

The location is pretty run down, and we have had to bring in all the facilities, including toilets, heating, wifi and the rest. One of the trucks in the yards outside belongs to the caterers (leg of lamb today, and very nice it was, followed by rhubarb crumble and custard), and next to them there is a costume and make-up vehicle and two ‘3-ways’ (mobile dressing rooms).

The general state of disrepair was one of the things that attracted us to come here, and it allows us to be a bit more cavalier with the fabric of the place than we might be if the place was, say, under the care of the National Trust. But the downside of this becomes apparent when we find a chunk of the ceiling has fallen in right over one of the places where we expect to shoot next week. We immediately tape off the area and start to make it all safe.

Later: in fact we did exceptionally well today against the schedule today, and we finished the planned scenes with something over an hour to spare. Plus, the shots that Steve Lawes conjured up with the red walls, green creepers, shadows, flickering lights and the dark faces of the conspirators looked pretty sensational. But by then we had discovered a problem with two of the slates – close-ups of Paterson as Joseph – that we shot early on today. We had time to return to these, film them once again – and still finish six minutes early. Which meant that I got home in time for the Chelsea game. Let’s see if we can keep this up tomorrow…

Previously on the Julius Caesar blog:

‘Tell us the manner of it’, 23 April
‘Their battles are at hand’, 21 April
‘A very pleasing night to  honest men’, 17 April
‘Be patient till the last’, 12 April
‘Now they are almost on him’, 6 April
‘A mourning Rome, a dangerous Rome’, 2 April
‘Tell us what hath chanced today’, 30 March
‘Shakespeare’s Africa play’, 29 February
‘Friends, Romans, countrymen…’, 24 November

Apologies if you tried to ‘comment’ yesterday – our system was blocking comments, for no reason other than a technical malfunction. Everything seems to be working properly today.


  1. keith griffiths says:

    Did you complete your nine minutes?

    • John Wyver says:

      Yes, we probably got more, perhaps closer to eleven, although we may have one or two close-ups to shoot for the second of the two scenes. So halfway through day 2 we’re feeling fairly pleased.

  2. Helene says:

    While what the audience sees on the screen is the actors, it’s apparent that the creative team behind the acting contributes as much — and perhaps even more (at least, that’s what I think) — to a production’s final look. A true collaboration among multiple artists.

    It also sounds as if this location is a bit like the location of “Macbeth” in its need-of-repair quality.

  3. Helene says:

    And, John, while I realize that there’s a good chance that we in the US might never see this production, it’s the daily blogs that I find even more interesting … I learn so much from them.

    As much behind-the-scenes info you can pass along would be very much appreciated. And a few photos wouldn’t hurt, either. Thanks.

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