We have just completed the principal photography for The Raven On The Jetty.
An extraordinary experience! We were blessed with good fortune and the contributions of all those who have helped us in Cumbria has been incredible. The cast and crew were brilliant. We all more or less lived together for two weeks and the working days were long and relentless. Despite this, the working atmosphere was great and in my experience of shooting, this has been one of the most enjoyable experiences. The cast and the production team really pulled together and we all willed the project to progress as painlessly as possible.
Just one week prior to shooting, Britain was covered in a thick layer of snow. I was starting to worry. However, when we arrived the day before shooting was to commence in the hills around Penrith, where most of the shooting was to take place, to our pleasant surprise much of the snow had disappeared. The remaining snow was just right to suggest the end of winter and the beginning of spring. I couldn’t believe it, but what followed was two weeks of not a single drop of rain. Unprecedented, apparently. But it was cold. The Helm wind, particularly on the farm where we were filming, Threaplands, tested the resilience of even the hardiest amongst us and we pushed on.
Our actors, in particular, suffered bravely, not least our young star, Connor O’Hara. It was absolutely incredible how he took on the challenge of our relentless schedule and the bitter cold on the hill tops. Unfortunately, the Farmer who owns the land reported to me that he had lost 3 times as many lambs as he normally would, all due to the relentlessly cold weather. While we were busy filming, they were busy trying to save as many lambs as possible.
Nevertheless, the weather for such sequences, for example, as the jetty on the lake was perfect. Though we had scheduled all the key outdoor scenes in the first week, in case we needed to move the schedule around to cope with any weather problems, we were able to follow our schedule more or less as planned.
Over 250 camera setups and additional sound setups later, we have almost all the footage in ‘the can’. And it’s looking great (though I’m always a little nervous at this point about whether it’s all going to cut together and the story is going to work…) I now look forward to the editing and post production stages of the project knowing that I have some beautiful performances set in an evocative context and landscape. The visual imagery we were able to get has proved great and I now hope that some of the creative risks I have taken with the project are going to pay off. Apart from Mark Duggan and Amanda Belantara, I will now be starting work with a new set of artists involved in the project and I’m looking very much forward to this.
However, when I went back to our jetty locations yesterday to check we had left it as we found it, I was filled with a sadness. Just one week earlier, the location was absolutely abuzz with the production team, cast and raven handler working through the scenes in the context of a beautiful day. Now the location was forlorn, the snow on the hills in the background had completely gone, it was raining and the rough waters of Ullswater were starting to floor the jetty. Fortune shone on us and we move on to make what I hope will be a film the cast and crew, at the very least, will be proud of.
Soon there will be a new VLOG about the shoot, but in the meantime enjoy some of the photographs our resident photographer, Richard Mulhearn, took on the shoot.