I have never directed a live action film in my life. So when I decided to direct “Romantic Hideaway” I went through all the emotions of excitement, nervousness, anxiety and panic (especially as I am Producing as well) and then finally ended with a “What the hell…I can do it!” attitude. I had somehow stumbled across the 50 Kisses competition online and had even submitted a script which made it to the long list.
When I didn’t make it to the short list I decided to put on the Director’s cap instead as I wanted to be involved with 50 Kisses in some way, shape or form. Having shortlisted 3 films I eventually chose “Romantic Hideaway”. I felt visually we could tell a great story and the screenplay by Kulvinder Gill is cleverly written. It was a screenplay that stood out from most of the others as it hooked me in from the word “Go”. Whilst I was reading it I imagined how I would shoot the scenes and what kind of music I could use. The characters had a clear arc and there was so much that you could do with it in terms of interpretation. I also loved the final reveal in the film not to mention that it was a difficult screenplay to shoot (several scenes, a struggle and a remote location) which I accepted as a challenge.
Preproduction was difficult as we had some sound engineer issues to sort out and my trip to Istanbul fell right in the middle of it. Needless to say that I was in Turkey messaging my 1st AD here in the UK 4-5 times a day to see if we had found a sound engineer. One came on board 3 days before we were to shoot. I had also found a great house to shoot in but then the owners had cold feet so it was back to the drawing board. However, as the cliché goes, every cloud has a silver lining and we managed to find a property where the views were awesome and the owners incredibly hospitable.
After several discussions with Kulvinder about the backstory and little tweaks here and there I got working on one of the drafts. I found my entire cast/crew from Shooting People so a big thanks to them for connecting me with such wonderfully talented people. In terms of the location – well I made lots of cheeky phone calls to estate agents before I found the “house on the hill”.
With cast, crew and location in place filming took place on the weekend of 6th/7th October 2012 in Kent. It was an amazing experience. There were stressful moments such as “will we finish shooting in time?”, especially since the trains were running on a Sunday service with engineering works going on and bus services laid on so that we never started on time on Sunday! In addition, we were still playing catch up from the day before. However, the entire team pulled through with their tenacity and hard work and got the film made. I had lots of help not only from cast/crew but also from other people in my life (too many to mention here!) so thank you to them all as well.
Postproduction was exciting yet difficult as we had to sit through hours of rushes condensing 2 days of hard work in to just under 3 minutes whilst still keeping the narrative flowing. I’m from an acting background so to be working behind the camera was a massive learning curve for me. I learnt something from every one of my crew members and yes, there are things that I will do differently next time round, however, more importantly this experience has given me that burst of energy now to go on and make more films. Juggling it with a full time job isn’t a problem, because where there is passion, desire and a will, nothing is impossible and I’m already thinking about the next project – maybe I might write, act in it and direct it too. After all, no challenge is too big!