Reading My Way Around the World

Thursday 11 March 2021

Filming in lockdown

So after all the practice and stress of learning to lip synch, figuring out clothes and make up, finalising scripts, finishing writing a song and getting it recorded etc etc etc filming day arrived.

It was interesting filming in lockdown, keeping distance and masking up as much as possible although obviously Csilla and I couldn't do that and sing or speak so we were mindful of having a good space between us for our scenes together and with the magic of cameras angles can be found to make the gaps look smaller.   She and Alistair the director are a couple, the two cameramen are in a work bubble and Tom, who was doing sound, and I are together of course, so it made things a lot easier and we all brought our own food and flasks for refreshments.  

We started the day filming all our conversations and links.   On stage we tell our individual stories as links and then link to either a poem or a song.  And I do quite an extensive interview section with Csilla to hear about the actual mechanics of how she escaped from behind the Iron Curtain - it's a fascinating story.   Maybe because we've always looked for humour here, the bits about my growing up on the border are often the funniest parts.

That took nearly 4 hours and after a break for a very quick lunch we went on to filming one of our joint pieces and then all my songs done using the the same staging set up and then finished with a new set up for Csilla to do all her poems today. 

Here Csilla is acting the Clown - she wrote a poem about dressing up as a Clown to cheer up her parents and I set it to music.  This was fun to do.  

Lining up shots

Checking out the smoke machine for Dreaming a song I wrote when we first started travelling to Germany and getting out of the enclosed feeling of Northern Ireland and realising that it was ok for people to talk about sensitive subjects like politics and religion and ask each other their name without the answer having hidden meanings. 

Creating a mood - I managed not to choke on the smoke but the film part looks brilliant on this. 

The director Alistair and Csilla setting up Europa

Cameramen Ryan and John lining things up

The famous clapboard - always wondered how they worked.  It gives a sound so that things can be lined up in the editing suite - without it, sometimes it's hard to make the pictures exactly match the mouth that we're seeing.  So this was our 19th scene of the day, take 3.   (Thankfully we managed to nail most pieces in 2 or 3 takes, even in pieces like this where we both perform separately).   

Csilla preparing for Europa a poem she wrote after the bombings in London in 2007 where she wonders if Europe wasn't held together by the Berlin Wall.   We do it like a Greek tragedy - I sing the chorus and she speaks the verse.  It was the hardest to figure out how to film and was the last of the day so we were both pretty wrecked but I think we managed to get it. 

It was a long day but very enjoyable once we got into the swing of things.   Sadly I don't have any pics of our conversation bits or of Csilla's work today - I've been busy doing my zoom classes but this will give you a feel for it and I'll keep you posted when the film is totally ready for viewing.  Tom was in the background doing sound and it was him took the photos of me but managed to avoid the camera himself.  He's now going to be doing the edit in the next week or so.  


  1. Hi Fil - well that was a really interesting read ... and I'm sure you were all whacked at the end of the day - but so fulfilling ... and I'm so pleased you were able to do it in lockdown, despite the guidance etc. Congratulations and I sure hope the film will do well - and you and Csilla can bring it around the countries to show your work and Csilla's life. Stay safe - Hilary

    1. It would be fun Hilary to let other people hear the story. - Yes we were sticking close to the guidelines with temperature checks going in and we all had been vaccinated - the film industry has its own strict set of guidelines for this.


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