Manchester is a great place to be. If you love rain. Which of course I’ve always said I did. It does get a bit annoying though when you have to stand out in the rain for a couple of hours.
Just to let you know how exiting it is to be involved in a film shoot: you have to stand up at 6am. You have to be ready at 6.45am. And then it just pours down so much that it is to no use whatsoever to do any filming. So you eat a breakfast in the hotel and wait till it clears up a bit. It did after an hour or so, so we went off. And ended up standing in the wind and the rain for hours anyway …
But despite that it was an interesting day. We were three (camera man, director, and me not doing anything useful but learning and observing) visiting the depot in Longsight (link only for the real train nerds!) in Manchester.
And just to get access to the rails and trains and the area, we had to watch their safety presentation, and after that, do another test. It’s really not easy to get access the tracks anywhere in the UK!
We filmed people in their working environment and needed to film them showing things like crossing a line in a safe way (see picture). It was funny to observe how people’s behaviour changes when you point a camera at them. They suddenly start to walk in an odd way and in slow motion when you film them and when they have to talk they don’t remember what to say or start to talk really slow and in an unrealistic way. I absolutely understand them, point a camera at me and I will shrink to the size of a peanut.
I guess the important things I learned about filming “real” people is that you have to make them feel comfortable, not to stress them, praise them even though the shot was crap, be patient, and be friendly at all times.
I was amazed by their willingness to help us out. They were standing and walking in the rain for us. They even let us in a train cab (which is the place where the train driver sits), let us start a Virgin train called Tin Tin (starting a (diesel) train is nothing more than pressing a button) and they drove us around a bit on the tracks while we filmed it. I guess for them it was a nice distraction from their daily routines. I guess for me there were moments where I realized that this was quite a bit more fun than sitting behind a computer programming all day.
The rain and wind did make filming very difficult (water on the lens), the camera started coughing and demonstrating after a while but hopefully some of the shots can be used.
After hours out in the rain, freezing and thinking that fall had arrived early this year, there was only one place we wanted to be: the pub. And there was only one thing I wanted to eat: fish and chips (I am a wannabe Brit). In the pub I watched a bit of Wimbledon and could see that in London the sun was shining. I could have known.
The next shoot will be on Wednesday in Purley, which is one stop from Croydon, so I can wave at my old office. Let’s hope for better weather then.
It is going to be an extraordinary weekend in London, for several reasons:
- It’s 2 years ago since the 7/7 bombings in London
- The Tour de France is in London this weekend, and they will nearly ride through my back yard today.
- Live Earth concert in Wembley
- The Wimbledon finals take place
- Justin Timberlake is playing the newly refurbished O2 (the old Millenium Dome)
I will take my camera and try to catch some men in latex shorts on bikes. Tough job.