We’ve just wrapped on our film Battlecreek. I say our, because it is truly that, our film; a group effort that began with a script that I poured my heart into it years ago, and then was turned over to a team of people – lead by a triumvirate of the most kick ass women (ahem) - who infused it with an incredible amount of talent, skill and passion.
And thanks to my decisions as a writer, sorry all (!), this shoot was not for the faint of heart. The script took place predominantly at night, which meant night shoots almost the entire month we shot that ended most days at 5 in the morning. The crew would then have to break everything down and return to set the following day, mere hours later, to start the process all over again. Needless to say, by the shoots end, people were sick (and I’m sure sick of each other) tired, and eagerly begging for a good night’s sleep.
I flew out recently for the last week of shooting (as I had to disappear for a bit in the middle of the shoot to make sure the King remembered who I was). Upon my return to set, I was able to watch some of my favourite scenes brought to life, the scenes that held the emotional meat of the script. It’s surreal enough to watch your words play out in front of you, but to see them brought to life in such a beautiful, nuanced and expressive way by such incredible actors, well, needless to say, it made me cry like a baby (and I saw a few crew crying as well, so I’m happy to say, it took down the strongest of men).
People asked me throughout the process if it was what I had imagined in my head for so long - the locations, the actors, the overall feeling. And my response was always an unequivocal yes, beyond what I imagined actually. It is a surreal thing to walk around in this created, dimensional world and realize that what is exists in front of you is even more profound than what was in your head. Not to mention, it confirmed what I’ve always known, that good acting is an art and it can elevate a script to an entirely new level (and of course, in a more general sense, conversely, bad acting can be equally as profound, just not in a good way!). By shoot’s end, it was so abundantly clear that our casting was pinpoint perfect and these actors had truly become the characters on the page.
Then there was the crew. The tireless (f*cking kick ass) crew of some of the most talented people I’ve ever met; for some, seasoned veterans that taught us all a thing or two, and others first timers like myself who were aching to prove their worth; each with their own dreams, talents and aspirations that they brought to set and poured into this project. Led of course by our female Queen of a director that I have known since I was a little girl and love to the bottom of my heart –Watching her have come into her own over the years (she and I have shared many memories and trajectories, shall we say) and share my vision to such a degree (by the end of the shoot she knew the script far better than I did) was a profound thing that I wouldn’t have wanted to share with anyone else.
I walk away from this experience of course wanting more. I’m inspired like I’ve never been, in awe of the filmmaking process that I have so loved for most of my life, and have learned so much from so many talented people. It’s also an incredible thing to watch passion become a palpable thing. Watching people night after night, hour after hour tirelessly work to make everything look and run seamlessly, well that’s an impressive thing. Even down to the (fantastic) woman feeding us on set and making sure we didn’t all keel over, well the team spirit was never in finer form…I’m not naïve of course, there were certainly moments where the team effort fell victim to the normal tensions and tumults (that’s a polite way of saying there were of course times people wanted to smack one another) that can exist on any project, but overall the focus always returned to the project.
So here’s what I hope, I hope that more independent projects are given a shot to exist and breathe and see the light of day. I hope that more woman helm projects and prove that we are a force to be reckoned, I hope that I have many more opportunities to tell a story that resonates with so many. And I hope that I – along with our team – have contributed a story into the filmmaking annals that will leave its mark and add a little bit of special to a world that often overlooks such things.