Friday 23rd February 2007
Another lovely day of filming and we got outside to do some of the exterior shots, which was a nice change after all the scenes indoors with a dozen actors in a small lounge. I am relaxing more and more and getting less and less notes from the director and losing my self-consciousness. I hardly made any mistakes, apart from twice trapping my jacket in the door of my car and calling one of the characters by the wrong name.
On the bus at dinner-time we all chatted about mistakes we had made and it was good to hear that veteran actor, Claire Skinner (who I always call by her full name when addressing her, because she is proper famous) admitting that she too had looked directly into the camera and checked for her mark and looked at people before they started speaking.
We had started a little later today as we had some night time shoots to do, but everything had to be done and dusted by 9pm. Supposedly at least. Though we still had one more set up to do and it was five to nine and pissing down with rain. We had just shot one version of the scene in question with no rain, and now had to do a bit with someone pulling up in a car. Apparently it has to be raining really hard for that to register on screen, so we should be able to film the same scene in this weather and no-one would notice the difference.
But as we got into position, with various members of the crew wrapping us in coats and holding umbrellas over us, it really started to rain quite heavily. Yet there was not time to wait and we had to go for a take, even though we were getting drenched and wearing summer clothing - Sarah-Jane was in a backless top and is quite tiny and slim and was visibly quaking like a frightened mouse. We soldiered on through these ludicrous conditions, but something went awry and we had to do a retake.
I don't often feel the cold, which is one of the benefits of having eaten too many doughnuts this week, but even I was starting to feel chilly now and as I looked around at the others I could see that their hair was very wet and their clothes damp and i couldn't see how this could match up with the other stuff we'd done. Gordon Kennedy said that it would look like his character had just popped in for a shower. The mood stayed quite up though despite the conditions, no-one moaning too much and with lots of jokey comments to keep our spirits up. It was another bonding experience for us all, and though I was worried for the Julia, it was good to hear her expressing concern for the rest of us. Anton remained stoic and dignified in the face of this rather unpleasant experience. It made me love everyone even more.
We had at least four goes at getting this shot and the rain kept tipping down, the biggest laughter for us coming when we noticed that several members of the crew were desperately attempting to dry off the car, whilst the actors remained damp. "That's right," shouted Gordon, "don't worry about us, as long as the car is dry!" It was a heady mixture of exasperation and mirth and in hindsight it is a very funny situation, though at the time it was pretty horrible.
I know this can look like I am complaining about what you might think is a cushy job, but acting is a lot more difficult than it looks, the days are long, you have to endure unpleasant circumstances and if (like some of the people in this show) you are in your sixties or seventies, it can be very gruelling.
I am still delighted to be doing it and it's great to be part of a team again, something that hasn't really happened to me since "Time Gentlemen Please", but I am just trying to tell it like it is. I have enormous respect for the people I am working with, not just the actors, but all the crew who have to endure similar conditions (though at least they get to wear coats and winter clothes) and who were amazing at getting in amongst us with hot water bottles and warm blankets and umbrellas to make the experience much more pleasant than it could have been.
So I ended the week as I began it, covered in cold water - and it all seems quite apt given the themes of the show, which I have talked about before, of blood and water. There are a few scenes where one or more of us will be getting pretty wet, but the elements seem to be conniving to add some more icy unpleasantness to the proceedings.
Week one of filming is done now and I am very pleased with progress so far. Apart from one slightly tedious day, it's all flown by and I am very excited to see how it all looks when it's finished.
I am also looking forward to a weekend of sleeping in and being dry.
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