Monday, August 17, 2009
It just happened that the last day of filming coincided with my birthday! What a wonderful way to finish what has been one of the most amazing experiences. Working together with such an incredible cast and crew has been a dream come true. When Geoff and I started writing this project together we had no idea that we would end up in Tunisia but now I can't imagine it having been shot anywhere else. As it's the last day I'd like to take a moment to thank everyone for all their incredible hard work. It has been a privelege to work with such a talented group of artists. Will Humphris, you rock. Henry Forsyth, you are a beast. Ali we couldn't have done it without you. Thanks to Christopher Granier Deferre for putting it all together, the actors, the amazing crew, the Gang at Sinbad and most of all my co-writer who couldn't make the shoot but was here in spirit, Geoffrey Gunn.
Tereza flew out this morning after doing a couple of shots in the woods. Goodbye Tereza, look forward to seeing you in London. It is all coming to an end far too quickly but everyone is getting exhausted and talk of home is in the air. We had few more scenes to finish up in the forest and then we drove back out to the original beach to shoot the last scene. There had been some confusion about the last shots, basically I hadn't communicated to them exactly what I had in mind and we were stuck. I was thrilled that Henry and Christopher were able to schedule a reshoot on the beach. Over the last 22 days, we haven't missed a shot. Henry rules! We are amongst the gods. I don't want this magic to end.
Another day in the magic forest with a slight setback. After lunch Will told me that our location for Silka’s Marco seduction had been burnt down. We had found a lovely hill with tall golden grass that we had scheduled to shoot at magic hour. The grass was going to be backlit and our goddess would stand glowing and majestic as the lowly Marco grovels towards her. Now the patch of grass was blackened and stubbly. It was a total drag but there was no time to wallow. After a quick drive around the park we had no other choice but to make it work. The light was fantastic and an errant bee gave us a moment of complete hilarity. As Anthony edged up towards Tereza, a bee started buzzing around his head. Suddenly he freaked out and started waving his hands in the air as Tereza, unflinching, unamused, a true goddess. It was picture wrap on Anthony today. And we toasted him with some Tunisian bubbly which is surprisingly good. Thanks dude see you back in London. It’s been a blast, we'll have to put the out take on the dvd!
A new day, and a new forest in the center of Tunis and another Ma sa Allah moment. We had originally scouted a forest near Gammarth in preproduction but when we went back closer to production our sound man detected an odd industrial noise that made it impossible to shoot. Venturing further up the mountain where we were given yet another gift. A flash fire had spread through some parts of the woods creating an incredible black forest set. The ground was charcoal grey, the trees blackened and defoliated leaving eerie gnarly branches poking up out of a ghostly lunar surface. It was an amazing discovery and perfect setting for Ken’s disappearance.
We started the day with Anthony’s ‘it’ monologue. Anthony took a deep breath and though I was feeling confident that he was going to nail it, I was thrilled when it all came together. We spent the rest of the day trudging, running, being lost and then ended with a cool scene of Rachel losing Ken in the black forest. Lots of mud and dust. Anna’s little white dress really working the Grimm’s fairy tale angle, well done Allison, our London based costume designer! Another great day in the can. Thanks to everyone for being so incredibly cool. Tunisia rocks!
On our first series of location scouts back in July, Moez, took Christopher took us on a two and a half day whirlwind driving tour. I had done some research on google earth and was surprised when there were no files of location images awaiting us before we set out. Instead we hit the wild and very narrow roads of Tunisia, a truly jaw clenching experience. If it was meant to be, we would find our locations and if not, well, that was the way it was. C, explained to me that it was a cultural thing. On our last day, we head out to see a beach at Cap Seurat. It was a very long drive through beautiful rolling valleys. I’d never seen someone drive quite like Moez. Instead of veering away from oncoming vehicles he would slowly drift towards them. It was a continuous game of high speed chicken. Moez would assert himself over the other driver in an attempt to get them to swerve onto the shoulder. Apart from the large lorries that no car could intimidate, it did seem to work. After a couple of hours of this I stopped worrying about it. If we were going to die in twisted molten heap, then there was not a lot I could do about it. Finally after two and a half hours we drifted through sleepier and sleepier villages, occasionally asking directions to the elusive beach to which, everyone replied, 12 km. Another 12 km would pass and again the same answer, just another 12 km. It was surreal. Finally we caught a glimpse of the coast. It felt like we’d found a hidden world. As we nudged the car through a herd of sleepy sheep on a small bridge we saw it. A meandering river, lined with blossoming pink flowers. It was as if we had landed in some kind of opium dream. I shouted out. Stop the car! We hadn’t found the beach but we had a location for Bruno’s death!
Cap Seurat was our extended day because to the two hour drive. We woke early and clutching our pillows, stumbled to the vans. I was afraid that there might not be anything left in the small river. I was relieved too see a glint of water when we arrived. We began with some shots of Anthony splashing along the stream and then got into his death with Tereza, then Oien’s discovery of Bruno. With the sun slowly sinking we raced to get Anna’s collapse at the stream quickly shooting a very elegant one shot before packing up and waving goodbye to our dreamy Arcadian paradise.
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
We woke up a little bleary Sunday morning from our pre-wrap beach the night before to discover several of the actors and many of the crew members had come down with a mystery rash. After a few consultations it turned out our enchanted forest was a little more malevolent than we'd supposed. Not wanting to tempt fate we shuffled a few scenes around and minimized our risks by shooting the solo scenes with Oien in the woods, who didn't seem too bothered by the itchy rash. So, loaded with coritizon cremes and pills, we started our second day under the canopy. It was muggy, fast, furious and quite itchy but we made our day! Happy to be out of our once beloved woods and on to the pink flowery stream location tomorrow.
Sunday, August 9, 2009
Today was the first day in our new location at the edge of a large forest with an incredible view of the ocean. It's great to be under the shade for a change and the stillness is a real pleasure after the wind and sand at the beach. As we begin our day, a group of cows saunter onto our set sniffing at the life jackets we've placed in the sand. A few minutes later a herd of goats come trailing down the hill, bells chiming, very bucolic and ancient. It has a completely different vibe here, a sense of time standing still. The forest is open enough to give a sense of depth an endless, vista of trees and canopy. We can feel the ghosts. Noureddinne, our fabulous art director had hauled a fishing boat up from the harbour to dress into the wonderful boat graveyard set. And we spend the day running around in our little enchanted forest. It's like a fairy tale.