Better late than never…
Four months past the deadline, I’m wheezing to the finish line with my take on popular 50 Kisses script, ‘The Moment’. Actually, two Moments as we filmed two complete versions, our talented actors Noel Bateman and Terence Drew swapping guns to see who performed better as hitman and target.
Back in August 2012 I read every script shortlisted for the 50 Kisses feature. It was hard to narrow it down, but eventually I earmarked 2-3 I just had to make. Alas I eventually only had time for one – Stephen Cooper’s ‘The Moment’ stood out for me as being one that had a distinctive sense of humour, taking a tired genre trope (hitman struggles with conscience when faced with killing his target) and giving it a fun spin. It was also set in one interior location, always a plus when the weather’s crappy.
I enlisted two excellent Brighton-based actors I’ve worked with before. Terry is willing to try anything (in terms of acting at least), as evidenced in two of my short films ‘Lick My Crutch’ and ‘The Man Who Shouts At Seagulls’, as well as being ‘Angry Boss’ in TV comedy show ‘The Strange World Of Max X’. Noel is a versatile performer who makes acting look easy in a way only the truly talented can – I had the pleasure of working with him on music video ‘Wheezyboy’ for prog-rock geniuses Thumpermonkey. The actors liked the idea of role-swapping, and it felt like a novel way of approaching it.
I was to direct, shoot and edit, adding multi-talented entrepreneurial cohort Dave Packer of Sheep Films (also the star and producer of the ‘Max X’ show) to assist and shoot 2nd camera.
The day before filming, I got the flu. But not letting a few pesky germs get the better of me, I pressed on – me and my girlfriend Helen Dunleavy trashed our living room, throwing books and CDs across the floor in careless abandon. We upturned lamps and tried not to break precariously balanced mirrors, all to create the scene of a frantic search. This perplexed our timid cat Chibi, who wandered around the desolation while we were filming (her explorations appear in one of the films, marking her drama debut – she’s been an extra before but this is a meatier role).
A massive budget of around £25 allowed me to get some food in for everyone, who had kindly offered their services for free, and Noel supplied an authentic-looking prop gun (I didn’t ask him where he got it). We shot for around 6 hours, getting 8-9 complete takes before the actors switched roles and costumes.
Terry and Noel did a great job, their energy never flagging, although both have beards and I had scissors at the ready in case of any kissing entanglement.
I started post-production the next day and quickly noticed things wouldn’t be a breeze…
I’ve always considered myself lucky that gonzo sound recording has never undone one of my no-budget films in the past, but the lucky streak had to end sometime. The next morning I realised that we only had one complete usable audio take, along with other technical issues. In hindsight maybe filming with the flu hadn’t been such a good idea.
With these problems I couldn’t see how a complete edit was possible, let alone two versions.
The 50 Kisses deadline passed, and I disconsolately shelved the project to focus on freelance work and Xmas inebriation. Then in February, with some free time on my hands between jobs, I took a fresh look at the footage, necked my bodyweight in caffeine, and put together complete edits of both.
Painstaking audio reconstruction and finicky grading greatly improved things, and my girlfriend assisted with the final cut, plotting out the fun split-screening and bonus cat action. Soundtrack contributions from two of my favourite electronica composers – Datassette and Ochre – finished it all off nicely.
So, here are both versions of ‘The Moment’. Do they hang together? And which do you prefer?