The Vyle diary of Tom

Nov 21

THE VYLE DIARY OF TOM # 15: Lights, camera, contraction!

If you’ve seen me in the last fortnight, you may have noticed fire coming out of my nose and steam leaking from my ears. You may have noticed that my eyes are now red, and that my teeth are significantly sharper.

Yes, I’ve been filming.

Joe and I wrote the script about a month ago. I wrote the first draft, he edited that, then I edited his edits. Poor Joe. I am a major control freak.

We had to secure actors, locations, props and equipment. We had to make a ten minute drama in two days. A week ago, before we started filming, we had no lead actress, we didn’t have half the props, and the location wasn’t secure until the morning the cameras started rolling.

Filming is always a reminder that the production of a script is always in flux. Scenes will be made redundant if we don’t have enough time to film them, actresses and actors can be replaced and characters can be scraped if there’s another character in the story who can basically do their job.

Right at the beginning, we had to come up with an idea. We needed to adapt something. A news story, a book, a life… I suggested we tell the story of female producer Verity Lambert, who produced the very first Doctor Who. This instantly made it a historical drama, instantly making it ten times harder than any other idea.

Joe, my fellow writing buddy, came up with idea of adapting the song “Love the way you lie”. A song which I hate. This is when I became arrogant. (Again, poor Joe.) But I simply couldn’t work on a script for a song that irritates the fuck out of me and make it good.

So I became forceful. A nightmare. I wore everyone down with my idea until they were too tired to fight back. In ways, this is a good quality. That’s what I tell myself at least.

Whilst it was an ambitious idea, I knew we could do it. Everyone in the group thought otherwise.

But we got there in the end.

Thanks to Kenvigs, we got the main actress’ hair all done up sixties-style (for FREE) and thanks to Barbara Wilcox, we got the perfect man for Sydney Newman, the fearsome head of Drama at the BBC.

Joey Guy fought and fought for the location of the Harris building, an old looking location perfect for 1960s BBC. We even found an empty office and dressed it up. (Joey and I got sent off that set, for laughing too much. Sent off our own set! How awful.)

Gary Woods and Jonathan Bailey did the photography, and there are some beautiful images. They were so good they made me wet. (I cried with joy.) If you haven’t seen them, I’ll be putting them up on here somewhere, somehow. 

Chris Mole did a beautiful job on the lighting of the film. This is good, because we’ll actually get to see our actors! In full colour! How this excites me so!

Rachel and Brian, our two main actors, were a god send. I wasn’t expecting to find two actors who’d physically resemble their real-life counterparts, but we did. And they were fantastic, simply fantastic.

Jon and Hana come from the past. I am sure of this. They had all the old-time props we needed. A typewriter, a pipe, an old phone. Jon was an excellent handy man, doing all the jobs I was too weak to do, and Hana’s mother was extremely kind for letting us borrow her family antiques.

A special, SPECIAL thanks must go to Stephen Cheung and Iris Ng. These two were always helpful, always professional, and they got the film made. The entire piece would have been nothing without them, and all they got in payment was a selection box. 

And finally - Joey Guy. We argued, we hit each other, we bitched at one another and at one point I’m sure I saw a red dot darting around my chest. But that’s why it was a joy to work with him. 

This time last week, we didn’t have an actress for our main character Verity. 

This time next week, a ten minute film about the struggles of a woman in a very male-orientated decade will be trailblazing your way to YouTube. And we can’t wait.