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Darkest Days - Production Thread

Posted: Wed, 13th Apr 2011, 4:53pm

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StrikeEmStudios

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I've put off making this thread for a while, but since I've started production and have another weekend of filming coming up, I thought why not see how interested people are.

Darkest Days see Kat, Mark and Scott on the run, running from the controlling government's armed forces following an attack on their small village. They must escape the country with the help of a small band of resistance fighters - but with The Union so close behind, will they make it?


Screen shot 4 by StrikeEm, on Flickr


Screen shot 2 by StrikeEm, on Flickr

I've been slowly working on this project for nearly a year, it took a long time to finally get it written down and after many changes and delays i started filming two weeks ago.
I am Filming the 30 minute + short in Norfolk, England with a 5D Mark II, and I'm due to complete an edit for the 20th May - the hand in date for this university project. I plan to refine and improve upon the edit after this date with hopes of entering the final film into film festivals in 2012.

This is my most ambitious production to date with the largest budget I've worked with, estimated around £900 which has been spent on costumes+ props that will be used again in the future, and these can be rented out by other local film makers if they need them. more of the budget was spent on camera equipment and travel/ hotels for actors.

Screen shot 1 by StrikeEm, on Flickr


Screen Shot 3 by StrikeEm, on Flickr

This production is less about visual effects (even though it contains a fair few) but more about being driven by the story and it's characters and trying to get these actors to express emotions, This also marks the first time I have worked with people who have acting experience/ want to gain experience which will hopefully pay off on the final piece.
Posted: Thu, 14th Apr 2011, 8:44am

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Simon K Jones

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Nice! What brought you to Norfolk to shoot it? What uni are you at? Your actors all have a good look.
Posted: Thu, 14th Apr 2011, 9:12am

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StrikeEmStudios

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Tarn wrote:

Nice! What brought you to Norfolk to shoot it? What uni are you at? Your actors all have a good look.
Well I chose Norfolk because I live here, I've been studying visual media production for UCS (university Campus Suffolk) at Great Yarmouth college - where I live/ as it was the most practical based film course that i could find.

I could have traveled away from norfolk to film, but it wouldn't have been practical and i wanted this sense of an abandoned countryside so i chose locations that were not always 'picturesque', I wanted things like the occasional telephone pole; In the story the east coast has been 'evacuated' to stop people escaping by the channel.


I've spent months looking for locations around Norfolk that would look good, and i found some pretty bleak places, like Happisburgh beach where homes have fallen down and the sea defences have failed.

Happisbough panoramic by StrikeEm, on Flickr

And an old derelict weather station
http://www.vimeo.com/21363372
(excuse the rolling shutter - it was more for visualising the scene)
Posted: Thu, 14th Apr 2011, 10:02am

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Simon K Jones

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Yep, Happisburgh is an amazing location. That's where we shot the Beach Landing video:



Unfortunately the nature of the project and the time constraints meant we couldn't use the location to its fullest, so I'm looking forward to seeing what you've done with it!
Posted: Thu, 14th Apr 2011, 3:25pm

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StrikeEmStudios

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Yeah it can look amazing bleak in the correct light, and it appears that saturday, when i'm due to film is going to be overcast, which is ideal for that scene.

I honestly couldn't recognise the beach in that video, you must have been filming way from the debris and defences.

I will be using the area as best i can, and luckily i've just been cleared to shoot with my prop weapons by the police so I can't wait to film.

also Tarn, if you guys around FxHome ever need some military props (full camo gear/ packs, and plenty of weapons) or a hand just ask and i'll be more than happy to help you out since i know the company is based in Norwich.

I'm filming in the Ringland Hills just outside of Norwich tomorrow evening, thanks to a farmer who was more than happy let me use a old piggery conversion in return for a cake (best payment ever).

I'll keep the thread updated with pictures and everything.
Posted: Thu, 14th Apr 2011, 7:45pm

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mercianfilm

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The last shot with the smoke and the panorama of the beach look amazing! They both look incredible locations and suit the look of the film well- especially the beach- what were the defences you mentioned? Looking forward to more updates!
Posted: Thu, 14th Apr 2011, 9:06pm

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ben3308

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What is this being lensed with? Any assortment of interesting glass?
Posted: Thu, 14th Apr 2011, 10:14pm

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Allen Manuel

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Love the screens. I'll be keeping up with this! Keep us updated.
Posted: Thu, 14th Apr 2011, 10:14pm

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Allen Manuel

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Love the screens. I'll be keeping up with this! Keep us updated.
Posted: Fri, 15th Apr 2011, 6:43am

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StrikeEmStudios

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ben3308 wrote:

What is this being lensed with? Any assortment of interesting glass?
All the screen shots in the original post were filmed using a 35mm Paragon prime which was bought on ebay for about £20. Other scenes will be shot using a 50mm Pentax Super Takumar Prime.
I took a liking to old lenses when i first got a HDSLR because their generally cheaper than 'new' lenses and the glass is good.
I had tried to get an anamorphic lens to film with, but i ended up sending this back as the vignetting was too much for my liking.

And Mercian -
the sea defences at the beach i will be using have just failed to work, they are old and rotting and the cliff is being eroded at a very fast pace - I have to film this week as a clean up of the area starts in just a few weeks time.

I'll post some raw images which haven't been graded on colour ('color' as apple would have it) of the shoot on saturday night.
Posted: Fri, 15th Apr 2011, 8:05am

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Simon K Jones

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StrikeEmStudios wrote:

I have to film this week as a clean up of the area starts in just a few weeks time.
Noooo...are they clearing away all the half-destroyed houses? That's such a brilliant location and I was really hoping to make use of it at some point.
Posted: Fri, 15th Apr 2011, 8:30am

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StrikeEmStudios

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Unfortunately it's true Tarn. I saw a few notices that a clean up would begin mid spring, I'm not sure to what extent the clean up is, if it's just the houses/ launching ramp. or if it's a full clean up with new defences. I'll read the notice again when I go to film there tomorrow and let you know. I think if you're gonna go film down there, do it before May if anything.
Posted: Mon, 18th Apr 2011, 9:28am

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StrikeEmStudios

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Had a successful but stressful weekend of filming. I'm learning a lot about filming larger script based projects from this production; I would normally work with two maybe three short pages and it would only take 4 hours to film a sequence - but with this project I've based my filming slots based on that format - which is a mistake.
having to rush through an important scene to move onto the next one is difficult and stressful - I know i've missed shots that i won't be able to re shoot due to cost and schedule but i'm hoping these shots are insignificant and the scenes work without them. Other than the rushing - everything came together, all the actors turned up - some of which had traveled a long way to help out - and they all put on great performances.

The locations were fantastic too - but i just wish i could have had an empty beach - i was starting to get very aggravated by the slow moving people who would just stop on the cliff top watching and getting in my frame - I just wanted to shout that the view would be exactly the same 20 foot along the cliff top. Unfortunately this mean i'll have to remove them in post in some shots - and there was me hoping to avoid effects work as much as possible.

On the other hand, the footage i took looks rather great, if i do say so myself:

Screen Grab 2 by StrikeEm, on Flickr

More to come soon - and with a more relaxed, spaced out shoot this week it should all come together nicely!
Posted: Mon, 18th Apr 2011, 9:33am

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Simon K Jones

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Looks fantastic! Really glad to see somebody making full use of that beach before they ruin it by tidying it up.

When we shot the Beach Landing sequence there we had similar issues with random dog walkers, especially on the clifftop where they'd always stop and watch for ages. Pretty much every shot where you see the clifftop had to have people removed.

Silly people!
Posted: Mon, 18th Apr 2011, 10:45am

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StrikeEmStudios

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Tarn wrote:

Looks fantastic! Really glad to see somebody making full use of that beach before they ruin it by tidying it up.

When we shot the Beach Landing sequence there we had similar issues with random dog walkers, especially on the clifftop where they'd always stop and watch for ages. Pretty much every shot where you see the clifftop had to have people removed.

Silly people!
My personal favourite was the old lady who walked into shot to investigate a rock, i believe she was particularly fond of that rock even though the rocks slightly further down the beach were pretty much exactly the same.

oh to have a budget large enough to shut the beach down... we can dream...

In other news, maybe i'm not to bad at this directing business... judging by one of the actor's blogs (who i had not worked with before), It seems he loved every minute of the shoot - especially doing action, something i don't think he's ever tried doing before.
in fact, everyone said they had a great time filming, so thats good to hear.
Posted: Mon, 18th Apr 2011, 11:01am

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Simon K Jones

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Excellent! The main thing, I think, on any film is to ensure everybody enjoys the process. I'd actually say it's more important than the final quality of the film itself: if the film comes out great but everyone hates you, it could end up being your last (or be difficult to get another project off the ground); if the film comes out only OK but everyone loved doing it, you'll easily get people involved for the next project, for which you can raise the quality bar higher.

This only really applies to volunteer projects, mind you. Once people are getting paid they're less fussy about the quality of the experience. smile
Posted: Sat, 23rd Apr 2011, 4:19pm

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StrikeEmStudios

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Filming wrapped a couple of hours ago, it was a hot day (by english standards) and the shoot looks like it came together well. Today I was shooting the film's big action sequence - I say big, but it wasn't as big as i had originally planned, I failed to get enough extras for the shoot so I had to compromise and make it smaller in scale - which i believe will work better in the context of the film and will match what i wanted to do with this project - character focused, not letting the action take over the story.

Heres a few stills from todays shoot. the grading isn't final, it's more of a grading trail done in photoshop

Screen Grab 3 by StrikeEm, on Flickr


Screen Grab 4 by StrikeEm, on Flickr

The location we we're using the past three days looks fantastic on film, but when you're there it's a complete mess, i had to go down a few days before hand to clear up huge amounts of broken glass and dangerous debris - but i think it's all been worth it, this section of the film will probably be the strongest in terms of how it was approached, I learnt my lesson from last week and spaced the shoot out over three days- which was a hell of a lot more relaxing.
My only disappointment is that I couldn't use the practical 'blood smoke' pump I created due to not being able to tape the tubing down (forgetfulness). You can see the smoke pump in use in my last short, First Strike - available in the FXhome cinema.
Posted: Mon, 25th Apr 2011, 7:54am

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mercianfilm

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Those shots look amazing! I agree with you about the location, it looks incredible. I'd love to see the bemused faces of whoever comes to demolish it and notices that it's already been cleaned biggrin it'd seem like a really caring hobo had set up home there! Anyway, love the shots- looking forward to this with each post.
Posted: Tue, 26th Apr 2011, 9:00am

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StrikeEmStudios

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Thanks Mercian, I was always a bit wary of the location - It was mostly demolished and blocked off so we had to hop over a gate to get in; I wasn't sure if the land was owned by a farmer down the road or was just empty disused space, but no angry farmers came to shoot us so i assume the only reason it's blocked off was due to how it's half demolished.

The edit is beginning to take shape now, I just need to edit the action scene, add the visual effects to this weekend's work and tighten things up now. Then i have to find a composer to create some music - preferably someone willing to make it for little to no money as the budget was blown during production - So if anyone has any Composers they know/ recommend let me know.

More screenshots later this week, and a trailer before mid May! (around the 10th)
Posted: Wed, 27th Apr 2011, 2:24pm

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StrikeEmStudios

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Things are moving along well on the production - enough to move the trailer debut to....


Trailer 1st by StrikeEm, on Flickr

and as i said before, here are some more Stills:


Screen Grab 5 by StrikeEm, on Flickr


Screen Grab 6 by StrikeEm, on Flickr

The trailer will be availible from 7pm on sunday night - It will be posted on my facebook page 'Strike em Studios' http://www.facebook.com/pages/Strike-em-Studios/147963818019?ref=ts

I will also link directly to the video when i post on here about the release
Posted: Sun, 1st May 2011, 5:52pm

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StrikeEmStudios

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Trailer is now up!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gZ1P2OXsXgY

I've also posted it to the Fxhome cinema, but i don't know when that will appear.
this is the first 'trailer' i've ever created, so forgive me if it's not trailery enough...

Share your thoughts, and thanks for watching!
Posted: Wed, 4th May 2011, 12:06pm

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jotoki

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Well I have been waiting for this trailer since I saw the screen shots and I was not dissapointed, very nice stuff indeed. I'm looking forward to the full movie now. Well done!!

Just one questiom. The column of smoke in the final shots of the trailer. Where did that come from or how was it done. it looks very good and the basic look of it fits with something I'm looking to do.

thanks
Posted: Wed, 4th May 2011, 3:37pm

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StrikeEmStudios

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jotoki wrote:

Well I have been waiting for this trailer since I saw the screen shots and I was not dissapointed, very nice stuff indeed. I'm looking forward to the full movie now. Well done!!

Just one questiom. The column of smoke in the final shots of the trailer. Where did that come from or how was it done. it looks very good and the basic look of it fits with something I'm looking to do.

thanks
Thank, I'm glad you enjoyed it.

The smoke is a still image taken from google, I then colour corrected it, and copied + rotated parts of it to extend the smoke plume as it cut off too soon. I added a small animation to the lower half of the smoke - but unless your watching it closely you won't notice it.
Posted: Wed, 4th May 2011, 4:44pm

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jotoki

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I wondered if it was a still. thats great thanks for the info
Posted: Tue, 10th May 2011, 6:04pm

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StrikeEmStudios

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Just wanted to give an update.
I've been around filming extra footage to flesh out an extra character and add more impact to the story, as well as collecting extra shots to fill in holes that i wasn't satisfied with while editing.

This means i headed back to Happisbough to grab some extra shots for the ending - i was worried the beach may have been cleaned up a bit since I filmed a month ago - but i was shocked to find that the beach looked even more ravaged than before! sea defences looked like they had been destroyed in some places - the boulders to stop the tides had been moved back and where the hell has all the sand gone?!

Check this comparision - the shot is taken in almost the same position.

Revisit 3 by StrikeEm, on Flickr


Screen Grab 2 by StrikeEm, on Flickr

What a difference a month makes.

Heres more

Revisit 1 by StrikeEm, on Flickr

Revisit 2 by StrikeEm, on Flickr

And to tease what we were shooting today...

Screen Grab 1 by StrikeEm, on Flickr
Posted: Tue, 10th May 2011, 6:29pm

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Aculag

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Those are some excellent locations, truly. Lots of character on that beach. I like it even more with the tide in like that, but it looks more desolate without it.
Posted: Tue, 10th May 2011, 7:24pm

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swintonmaximilian

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Yeah that's an amazing location, love stuff like that.
Posted: Wed, 11th May 2011, 8:08am

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Simon K Jones

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Heh, I'd forgotten about the metal staircase going down to the beach. We had lots of fun hauling cameras, tripods and other equipment up and down that damned thing. razz

I really hope the beach still looks like this when we start shooting the Arms Race web series.
Posted: Sat, 14th May 2011, 12:17pm

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StrikeEmStudios

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Tarn wrote:

Heh, I'd forgotten about the metal staircase going down to the beach. We had lots of fun hauling cameras, tripods and other equipment up and down that damned thing. razz

I really hope the beach still looks like this when we start shooting the Arms Race web series.
That stair case is a killer, especially the day of the main shoot when we had to haul a 20kg + dinghy down there with all the rest of the equipment.

You will have to keep me posted on arms race, it will be good to see what you do with the location this time - and I think the beach should be staying how it is for the time being.

Update time!
Editing is coming along, the new footage taken is smoothing out the rough edges and adding an extra layer to the film, The current run time of the film is at the 43 minute mark, which means i'll probably have to slaughter the film for short film festivals, - anyone who know of any good festivals/ competitions to look at, please let me know, i'm new to the festival scene and all that so it would be very helpful!

I haven't done much effects work in the last week or so due to other work mounting up so I should be starting the remaining shots soon.
Feedback on the project from people who have watched it has been positive so far and i'm currently editing to their feedback. A score is being composed by a fellow named Ariel Guez (http://www.wix.com/thejjj/ariel-guez---composer-for-media#!) and the tracks i have currently heard are fitting great with the visuals.
Posted: Wed, 1st Jun 2011, 12:32pm

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StrikeEmStudios

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*Update*

I have completed a near final edit, All i'm waiting for now is a sound track to be completed

Sid W DD 1 by StrikeEm, on Flickr

I colour corrected the whole project on apple Colour. it was a lengthy process and took an entire night to render but it's hopefully all worth it.

stacy DD 9 by StrikeEm, on Flickr

I plan to have the final edit finished by the 25th june, I then intend to enter the film into the Norwich film festival and Glasgow film festival. If I find any more festivals that look interesting or worth while I also enter into those.

Ritchi DD 7 by StrikeEm, on Flickr

From here it's onto my next project... something fun, something rather prehistoric...