Here’s some great news. A short “Morrison’s Birthday Party”, has been awarded Best Short Drama from the New York International Film Festival!! I was a co-writer and the Assistant Director for the film and here’s a quick piece on the filming:
The Chronicle of Morrison’s
It was 9:45pm when Trevor Hughes said, “That’s a wrap. Congratulations everyone”
Trevor was at his sister’s house. In conversation, Trevor’s sister mentioned that in little over a week’s time, she would be joining her family on holiday. Ever thoughtful, Trevor saw the opportunity to have a gathering of friends, a party you might say. His first idea was to have a screening of the period drama ‘Babbage’ and what better place, as this had been the location of the film set. However, it was mid summer, a chance to use the lovely garden which, unfortunately would be an unlikely venue for a film screening. The cogs kept turning. Perhaps there was an opportunity to do some filming. Maybe a little short film with a party afterwards? This was the thought that Trevor mulled over, as he began his long trek back home (About 50 yards!) and no sooner had he closed the front door behind him and then he had his epiphany.
Soon after, Trevor phoned director Claire Barker and she was to hear familiar words that would invoke a mixture of emotions. Usually those of fear and panic, mixed with excitement and joy. “I have an idea”. So the idea was born. Shoot a feature film in one night. Now admittedly, on the surface, this sounds like madness. Throw a party and shoot it at the same time. Don’t use a script, film it in the Frame on Frame ‘Zogma’ style. Not using a script, just provide plot points and a basic premise and then let the actors run with it. Film it with multiple cameras, shooting at multiple angles simultaneously, essentially producing a live movie. More importantly, make sure everyone enjoyed themselves, by providing the them with food and even alcohol. I mean it was a party after all. Oh yes! Plan and shoot the film in 9 days.
At this stage, to the reader, madness may not seem like a strong enough word!
Having bounced ideas around with Claire, Trevor sent out invitations to friends, colleagues and actors alike, to attend ‘Morrison’s Birthday Party’ and be a part of shooting a feature film in one night. Trevor awaited the responses and they came in thick and fast over the following couple of days. The party would go ahead.
With cameras, cast and crew on board, all that was left was to confirm the plot, the characters and the running order, in the 3 days that were left. As Claire had agreed to star in the film, her character playing a pivotal role, Trevor wanted her to be on an even playing field as the other leads. So he decided to invite Steve Payne and Eamon Wyse to join him to complete the plot lines, character profiles and character relationships. They were not alone in the creative process however, as each of the actors had given their own input to their characters and Trevor, Steve and Eamon would use as many of the ideas as they could, as the moulded the storyline. After 3 hours of brainstorming, it was complete.
The following day, Trevor sent the cast and crew a character list, with some background to each one, along with a call sheet and running order. However, some of the plot points would be held back until the story unfolded. With one day until filming, 8 days since the idea’s inception, ‘Morrison’s Birthday Party’ was ready to roll.
‘England, my England’ D.H. Lawrence had once wrote and our England did not disappoint. As expected with a plan to shoot outdoors, it rained. Having gathered everyone at the location for 6pm, the cast and crew stood and watched the rain fall on the party table. Just as Trevor, his DOP Daniel Russell and his 1st AD Eamon Wyse were giving everything another check, Richard Hoult, who had worked on 2001: A Space Odyssey, French Lieutenant’s Woman, and Portrait of a Lady, amongst others and had kindly accepted Trevor’s invitation to attend, approached the group. “It’s stopped raining”, he said and the filming began.
2 hours, confrontations, shocks, partying, drinking, kissing, music, a go-go dancer, a fire dancer and a martial arts demonstration later, oh and a cake (Never forget the cake!) and the final scene was shot. The party had come to an end, or at least that party, as the cast and crew stayed until the early hours to celebrate. After just 9 days of preparation and 2 hours filming, using 6 cameras, dancing around each other as if they were in a an excited and sometimes stressful ballet, it was ‘in the can’.
Looking back, was it indeed madness? I’m sure if you asked anyone involved, the answer would be no. Either that, or they’d all have to admit that they were as mad as the idea seemed to be! Would they want to do it again? Considering the number of ‘When’s the next one?’ and ‘Can’t wait to work with you again’ that Trevor received afterwards, I’d say they would.
So congratulations to a fantastic cast and crew for creating a little bit of history. A feature film, planned in just 9 days and shot in 2 hours, live. It has to be some sort of record, right? On the night of July 31st 2008, it was 9:45pm when Trevor Hughes said, “That’s a wrap. Congratulations everyone” and it was done.
Read more about the project here: http://www.frameonframe.co.uk/page15/page15.html