Our head of SFX Andy Savage has shown us into the work station that’ll create all our gore set pieces for Good Tidings. I’m sure it won’t be this clean in a couple of days!!
Season’s Greetings horror fans!
Stuart W. Bedford here once again to reveal what’s been happening over the weekend in the Good Tidings camp!
So this week saw our first read through with our main cast! Directing on set can be nerve wracking. If something doesn’t work, all eyes turn to you. “What do we do now?” And god help you if you try to make up the answer on the spot. People aren’t stupid, and generally, they can smell the bullshit oozing from your mouth from a mile away.
But a first read-through is a little different. I don’t know all of the answers to the questions of performance or character yet. In fact, the first read through is where I usually formulate a lot of these answers. To see your material spoken by actors is a magical thing – this is material that’s lived only in your head for (usually) months and years even, depending on the scope of the piece. So to see it breathing, walking on it’s own weak little legs for the first time is not unlike watching your child learn to ride a bike. It fills you with pride, but also a little anxiety – no one wants to see their child hurt themselves.
For any first time filmmakers out there, here’s some advice: the first table read is so dry that you may feel the urge to panic when your actors don’t perform the lines you wrote (or have been working with) with the kind intensity or emotion that you imagined.
For an actor, it’s difficult to deliver a proper performance (particularly one befitting a horror movie) while they’re sat quite comfortably in your living room with a cup of tea in their hand. And always remember, a screen performance is a collaborative process. Never get too attached to a specific line, read in a specific way. 9 times out of 10, your performer will have insights on his or her character that will surprise and delight you. You just have to let them run.
So that brings me to our own read through, which happened on Saturday. All of the above principles were true and yes, it was very dry and intensity was low. However, now the sheet is off the material; now we see what works, what doesn’t, which lines feel right in characters’ mouths, and which feel clunky or over-written (even the world’s top screenwriters talk of their dialogue simply not working when spoken). It’s an invaluable first step on the road to getting to a great performance, not just for the actors but for a director as well.
The first read through is also the time where you can can observe how your actors have interpreted their characters and if necessary, guide them down another path before they head too far off on their own (believe me, a locked mindset is never what you want on set). You’ll know of course that there are a million ways to interpret a script and unless they’re psychic, your actors have likely interpreted it differently to you. Here’s an example:
One of our leads, Alan Mulhall, played a lot of his lines with intensity; calm but with a thinly veiled anger that burst forth once shit started going down. But no. That’s not quite right for me. I want this character to be calm, cool, collected, even under extreme duress – for me, this doubles the impact of the intensity that comes further on down the line. So now Alan is aware of this and the sentiment will hopefully echo in his head while he further researches his character.
Before Saturday, most of our cast (although admittedly not all) were acquaintances or even strangers who had never performed any kind of written material together. Now they have. The veil has been lifted. The bubble has been popped. And now, next time we come to read through the script, changes will have been made; things that didn’t work (hopefully) now will and the performers – likely nervous and unsure before hand – now have a grip on what’s going on in the script, not just on the page but in the subtext too.
The old adage is true. If you fail to prepare, prepare to fail. The performance begins with that first read through and without it, your actors are going to get to rehearsals blind. Never good. So pop the bubble ahead of time. You know it makes sense!
That’s it for today! Scram!
Stuart W. Bedford
Hey horror fans!!
Today sees the start of something special and exciting. It’s the start of practical fx sculpting and creating death scenes for our seasonal slasher. His name is Andy Savage of Savage SFX Make Up, he’ll be showing you all the ins and outs of creating the practical sfx for our movie. So sit back and enjoy the gore unfold over the next month. Enjoy. #goodtidingswebring
Hey there horror fans!
Stuart W. Bedford here; writer, producer and director of the upcoming Christmas Horror/Thriller Good Tidings. Over the next month, I’ll be writing about my process, the problems we face and the tasks we need to complete in the run up to the production at the end of August.
Making a movie ain’t easy. So many elements, so many balls in the air at any one time, so many interlocking pieces that are required to work in perfect harmony in order to function at all. And if one piece fails, the whole thing comes tumbling down like a Jenga stack. Now take that anxiety inducing process and add the idea that we basically have no money to do it (or at least such a small amount of money that it may as well be no money). Now you have some idea of what we’re trying to do with Good Tidings, our debut feature under our new company Two-Headed Snake Entertainment.
But all hope is not lost. After a month spent writing, editing, crewing, casting, rewriting, location scouting and rehearsing, I am happy to say that we are in extremely good shape for the shoot next month. In truth, I am not overly fond of the producer side of filmmaking which is why I am excited to now be free to fully engage Director mode.
It’s a magical process watching a movie come together. It starts as a concept, no more than a discussion between good friends, a discussion about the films we’re passionate about; about the themes we want to play with; about the genres we love. Then a script emerges, the concept executed on the page (or that’s the hope anyway). Then suddenly, an army of people who are easily ten times more skilled than ourselves appear out of the shadows – that’s where film people live – and work tirelessly to make that concept a reality.
Good Tidings has taken on a life of its own. It’s now in the hands of the crew. It can be hard to let go of the control that I as a director want to keep, but my ethos is the that through interdependence (that is to say the idea that alone we are strong, together we are stronger) the material can be elevated to greater heights. The only thing to do now is, as they say, ride the lightning.
So, over the next month, every Monday and Friday, I’ll be giving you an insight into this marvelous and nigh on shamanistic process that sees a silly little idea between friends turn into something that exists in time and space as a tangible entity – our dream, made real. You don’t have to be insane to work here, but it helps!
Seasons greetings all! See you Monday!
Stuart W. Bedford