Sunday, 14 September 2014


I found myself staring down at the river Thames on Friday night as we filmed the last scenes of Learning to Breathe on Waterloo Bridge.  Much like the character Noah does. Reflecting on what had happened over the last few months of making this film.

Usually when you make a feature film you are faced with a great many problems and obstacles that you have to overcome, but this one had more than most.
So much has happened. Thing connected to the film, and things outside of the film.  It's been a tough time.
But then given the nature of the film it was always going to be a tough one.

I wrote the film in January and somehow everything fell into place very quickly.
I knew I wanted to make this one for some time, but wasn't brave enough.  So by the time I was ready it erupted from me in a matter of days.
Like The Man Inside, I reached into myself and wrote a personal film. Not biographical, but one borne from experience.   It was like taking a state of mind and translating it to film.

The film explored heartbreak. That savage and brutal time in your life when your heart and mind run riot and out of control. 
I wanted to capture that roller coaster of emotion.  To transpose that feeling of the rug being pulled from under you onto celluloid. Not for any catharsis, but to see if I could capture it.  Like a wild animal.
But not just to make a dreary sad film.  Instead to show how the violent shake-up of heartbreak profoundly transforms you. Makes you see clearer and more vividly. How... It can make you better.

And so, to filming it in July and September.

I decided early on I wouldn't just direct.  I'd produce and shoot myself.  Keep everything under my control to ensure I wasn't swayed from my very clear vision.
This would be a one-time deal.  At this point in my life I can handle it.  But it was only for this film.

So, I found myself composing a shot, lighting a shot, focusing a shot, directing a shot... Basically, doing everything.

I was wrought with insecurity. Not sure if I could do it all. But, I held my nerve and kept going. 

It was intense.  Very very intense.  And without the usual reassurance of a producer telling me I was doing a food job, or my trusted cinematographer, I felt alone and exposed.   Desperate for praise or a note that would give me courage to keep going.
Instead I forged on each day. Forcing myself to be positive and trusting in my abilities.

By the time the London part of the shoot came round I was dreading it.
That's the truth of it.
It had been a tumultuous time and I dreaded it more than I really should have.  It was worrying me.
I dreaded the bigger lighting set-ups, the more complex scenes, and, frankly, dreaded screwing it up.

Again. That reassuring hand on my shoulder was absent.  It was all down to me again to find that enthusiasm and drive. To keep motivated and to motivate others.

It wasn't until the second day of the London shoot did I feel confident again.  Here's why...

The producer of my next film came down to visit.
He sat and quietly watched the shoot and watched the monitor.

Then he took me to lunch and told me what a great set I had. Calm and creative and happy.  He told me how great the film was looking.
And he told me what a great job I was doing.

It was what I had been yearning for.  That reassurance. That confidence in me.  It made me relax and I could feel all the tension in me ease away.
It was the first time on the shoot anyone had said anything like that to me, and it really helped.

We all need reassurance and praise and acknowledgement.
I always try and give it to my cast and crew every day. I know it helps.

Assuming all the roles I have on this film has meant I have had to drive myself every day without that encouragement from elsewhere.

As I turned back, from the river Thames on Friday night, I saw laughter and smiles. I saw people happy to be on my set that I had created all by myself.

You know what?  I didn't do too bad after all.

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