Had a great day, a week ago shooting a new short film COUGAR, which I wrote and put together. The actual shoot went incredibly well, considering that it was more complicated than desirable, for a one day scheduled shoot with quite a few extras, a large restaurant location and a few location changes, but we came in under time and on budget! This was largely due to a terrific Producer Mike Tetro, who came late to the production and could have walked off a Pinewood studio set, no problem. And we had Lincoln Lewis our truly dynamic Director of Photography, whose energy and imagination are amazing..he too could have walked in off the set at Pinewood or Elstree or Paramount or any major studio… his work is beautiful and importantly he also has a terrific ability to motivate and get the very best out of his crew. Again I know I am raving on a bit, but our young crew, some untried and untested came up to the mark wonderfully with their attitude and willingness to listen to instruction and to do what was asked, with the bonus of a fine and more experienced camera operator, Mark Davis. I was thrilled. And there was Will von Tagen who Co-Directed with Lincoln…I thought this was a good idea to have them both Directing as Will was acting as well. And we all know that acting can take it out of you in terms of energy and concentration and I did not want to Will to be thinking of 50 things at once, as you do as Director. Will is a lovely, funny actor, with a wonderful “what the heck am I doing in this life” quality which worked well for our little story. I had fun working with him. On top of which Will has making his own films for some time now and knows the complexities of the technology and the challenges we have to deal with on the work. We were lucky to have him. We were also lucky to have an intelligent group of extras who were able to move about and act like real people with real lives, again unusual in a films, in which the background action is shallow and frankly often unbelievable. And we had Lana Williams, who created a great glamour makeup look for me as the Cougar and a favourite co-worker of mine Glida Bothwell, our Art Director, who whipped up all sorts of necessary props and a great on set look for us. Only sad thing was that she had balloons for one scene in a hotel room and the cleaners, thinking they were done with, popped them …so no balloons…Glida was devastated..
I love working so much, especially in front of the camera, so this was a good opportunity to get back “in the saddle” and just “do it” again. I plan to do more and will. It is in many ways easier to create and make these small productions, even faced with the following challenge of getting them ‘out there” and to market. However if you can find and surround yourself with a team, in which the key people know what there are doing, there is no more satisfying way of making movies. Making films is one of the most challenging and difficult enterprises anyone can undertake, it’s like going into battle…the preparation, the doing and the finishing. Some people think it’s easy and want to learn by doing it “on the job”, that’s all well and good if you have people with you on set, who know what they’re doing, are experienced and can point you in the bright direction. None of us who goes into this industry is entitled, you need to learn it. And sadly there are many “wannabes” who think its all so easy and want to be “producers”,”writers”, “cinematographers”, “actors” and dont want to take the time to learn and practise their craft and then are surprised, unhappy that their little adventure has failed and the public dont want to know. The business takes education, learning, research, practice, honing and humility, people…if you want to do this business, respect it!
Very last word…I went to see THE MARTIAN and this is a near perfect film, wonderful, brilliant, with a very, very moving performance from Matt Damon, which had me in tears. May I remind you that the man largely responsible for all of this Ridley Scott, started his career making bread commercials, which are legendry in the business. He worked his way up from there, doing small films like THE DUELLISTS, with great Producers like David Puttnam, one of the real Producers in the industry, who knew and loved films and how to make them.
Sorry if this sounds like a rant, a rave and a lecture, but I love this industry and only want to be a part of the best of it! So far so good!
COUGAR production photographs by Pat Hohnhorst