Last December over 13 days I worked on Stigma, an independent feature film by writer/director Eddie Sebastian. It was not only Eddie’s first feature film but his first film of any kind, a brave man to go in at the deep end! By the time I was recruited Eddie already had a camera team but a few days before the shoot they dropped out. Fortunately Eddie was able to quickly find replacements and the production could start on time.
For the first week we filmed around the Ladbroke Grove and Latimer Road area close to and around Grenfell Tower which served as a backdrop for much of the action. Stigma is the story of a young single mother battling mental illness, an abusive ex-partner and debt, in the vein of gritty dramas like I, Daniel Blake. As it was December and we were filming on the streets it was of course pretty cold, but the cast and crew got on with the job and we were able to thaw out at lunchtime in a cafe, usually Pret in Ladbroke Grove. The short days meant we were limited to how much we could film each day, especially as the camera we were using, a Red Raven, was not able to work in low light, so night scenes were problematic. We did get the shots needed, on most days wrapped on time, and were grateful that the external scenes were done so we could get into the warmth! A few things did go wrong including losing the council flat location that had been booked months ago, but all the cast and crew turned up when they were supposed to and the shoot continued.
In the second week Eddie decided we could film the interior scenes in his house in Wembley. We appreciated being in from the cold and the shoot went much smoother, considering we weren’t limited for time by daylight, and were in full control of the environment. The actors delivered powerful performances, especially the three leads, Rachel Summers as the heroine, Jake Bryan-Amaning as her former partner and Kevin Stephen Jones as the antagonist. On one day we filmed several major scenes with the three actors and I don’t think there was a poor take all day.
We wrapped the film on December 22nd, on time, tired but relieved and proud to have bagged a feature film at a less than ideal time for a film shoot. The crew were highly talented and committed and were a pleasure to work with, Richard Boon as DoP, Riaz Ahmed as 1st AC and Alex Newell as 2nd AC. On several days we were also joined by 1st AD Andrea Ratti and boom operator Brooks Warner-James.
The rushes are now in Eddie’s hands and his next task is to organise the post-production process, finding an editor, colourist and sound designer. I wish him well and very much look forward to seeing the final product. I’m sure it will look good as it was filmed on a great camera by a skillful cinematographer, and if I’ve done my job properly it should sound fine too!