I haven’t written about it yet so just a short piece about my experience this summer working on horror feature film SwipeRight. We filmed in July and August almost entirely in Knockholt, Kent in a wonderful old house owned by writer and director Jane Sanger. Jane has made many great short films before but this was her first venture into feature films. She and her production team put together a talented cast and crew, every one of whom fully deserved this opportunity. On the first day I saw the call sheet and discovered I’d be working again with the wonderful Ellie Bindman, who gave such a great performance last year in another feature, Soundproof. Another summer another feature with Ellie! It’s a small world but I knew if Ellie was on board the casting was strong.
The first few days we were filming in baking heat. It didn’t help having to shoot inside the cramped space of a VW camper van. Due to lack of room I had to let the van go off with my sound recorder on board and five actors wearing radio mics, with predictably mixed results. We also had the problem of not being able to film anywhere near a MoD base, though we found a way around it.
Early on we shot a key scene at a shack which was festooned with real dead animals which the character hunted. The smell wasn’t pleasant even though they’d been in the freezer. We got the shots done and went home. Unfortunately the next day the actor quit the film. We quickly found a replacement in the lovely David Thackeray, whose looks and build were perfect for the role but whose hair was a little on the short side. This was remedied by use of a wig which became a key feature of the production. Unfortunately we had to reshoot the shack scene, this time without the animals and fingers crossed we will be able to cut to shots of the animals from the previous shoot.
That was probably the worst problem we had on the production. It mostly went very smoothly and was enormous fun to be part of. I had a great sound assistant and boom operator, Tom Blawat, to make my life much easier so I could concentrate on mixing. Every day we looked forward to a home cooked lunch and this never failed to be a highlight of the day, especially when we could sit outside in Jane’s beautiful garden.
Jane is an experienced director and her style is low key but effective and it was a pleasure to work for her. Her right hand man was director of photography Robbie Anderson, a man who has mastered his craft and brought a wealth of experience and knowledge to the set. He was ably assisted by two talented and funloving guys, Ashley Saunders and Chris Chalton. Jane was able to engage in light touch management thanks to her 1st AD Geo Matei, who kept us all in line with humour and common sense, and thankfully did not break out the dreaded megaphone too often.
We had our fair share of extreme weather including filming on the hottest day of all time. First indoors which was horrible, and then a pool scene which we wrapped a minute before a rainstorm began. We weren’t lucky with poolside scenes as on a night shoot proceedings ended swiftly when a deluge suddenly hit us.
The production was hard work and long hours, sometimes rushing to catch the last train of the night from Orpington. But it was also a lot of fun, there was a great spirit among us, cast and crew were in harmony and there was a fantastic camaraderie. I have never made so many friends in such a short space of time as on this shoot. I realise editing is going to take some time but I can’t wait to see how it turns out. And just maybe it’ll get a cinema release, fingers crossed.