Saturday, 2 May 2009

Splendid: Pilot - Production Diary Part 5.


We travelled to Stanstead airport to begin work on one of my favorite sketches, Jason Arnopp's PILOTS.
I already knew that the cockpit set we were going to use needed a LOT of work, but I must admit to taking a large gulp when we arrived on Friday morning. As you can see above, the set was barely 50% complete and needed a lot of hard work to get it put together.
The set itself had been built, for a now defunct television series set aboard an airline, and all the components of the cockpit had been dissembled and stacked away in an aircraft hangar.
Jamie, the art director, had slaved over the cockpit the previous day and had figured out what went where, and where all the piece had been placed. it was our job, to physically put the cockpit together and make the electrics convincing too! it was quite a task.

Originally, we were to shoot another sketch that day, set in a nearby fuselage set, but I had already taken the sad decision to drop it the evening before, as Jamie had estimated we would probably spend the morning putting the cockpit together and I decided it would better to put all our energies into realizing the PILOTS sketch and not rush it.

The other knock-on effect of the extra work required on the cockpit was for our set to be filmed on Day Six, Badger Facts. Jamie and I split the team into two. Half of us worked on the cockpit, and the rest worked on the Badger facts set.

From 9am-1pm a group of us worked with hammers, screwdrivers,
pots of paint and electrics, to fix the cockpit together inside the hangar.
Even the actors picked up screwdrivers and chipped in with the work that needed doing. It was like an enormous mechano set!

Meanwhile, the other half of our team worked outside the hangar on the lawn, painting & paper-macheting our Badger Facts set dressing.

It was very surreal to see giant mushrooms being painted in the middle of Stanstead airport.

As lunchtime approached, and the cockpit started to take shape, we turned the monitor on and looked at the cockpit.
After all the hard work that everyone had put in the results were very very satisfying. It looked brilliant!

We filmed PILOTS all afternoon, and the actors really enjoyed playing the parts of Captain and First Officer inside a completely authentic Boeing 737 cockpit. In the end, we had to drag them out of there!

On reflection, it was a shame we had to drop a sketch. but it was always designed as a bonus, so it will live for another day. In all the days that we shot the Splendid pilot, this was the most satisfying day, because of the amount of hard work that everyone put in, and the incredible results we achieved.

Thank you to Jamie Bishop, art director, extraordinaire.

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