Why Extreme? Well, this is a feature film project shot in multiple locations (Leicestershire) with large cast, in 21 days, with no money or subsidy of any kind – nada, zilch. That’s what we did with Do Something, Jake and here are some insights in a series of blogs from the director and production team.
The film is nearing post-production completion and due to be released in 2017.
The best decision we made on Do Something, Jake was to thoroughly audition the actors. It’s often tempting to watch reels online, do Skype auditions and interviews, thus saving time, venue hire costs, etc. This is shortsighted – something I have learned through hard experience!
There is no substitute for seeing people face-to-face under the pressure of an audition. When I look back at the auditions for this film, I had, in most cases, decided that an actor was suitable within a few minutes of them walking in and saying a couple of lines. We auditioned many people, and it was clear who shone – have a look at the Full Cast and Crew to see who made it through. It was interesting that some people were cast in roles that they were not auditioned for. This is one reason why actors should have a go at a role, even if they think the chance is slim – you never know what other roles the director and producers are looking for.
Notably, some experienced actors did not take up our invitation to audition for the film, deciding against involvement in such a speculative venture (or simply not replying). So, full credit must be paid to our cast (and crew) who took the plunge, and it is they who will now benefit.
Directing the Actors
For many actors, this was the first time working on a full-length feature film. Furthermore, the pressure of no-budget and real locations (not studio sets) meant that we were up against very tight deadlines, often in working premises or residential properties where people were going about their everyday business. Shooting quickly with the least disruption was the only option, thus adding pressure on the actors to deliver.
I did sense that this created nervousness with some of the actors, but also a healthy buzz. I tend to dump actors into the ‘deep end’ (in the nicest possible way of course!) so that we can get them in front of camera as soon as possible. They’re not always keen on this, but there are no amount of bathroom breaks, cups of water, makeup adjustments, or any number of other excuses, that will prevent the inevitable: they need to step in front of the entire crew, lights, microphones and cameras all rolling, and deliver their lines.
Fortunately on ‘Jake’, they all endured the pressure beautifully (as they had done in the auditions). So, by the skin of our teeth, we shot the whole film on no budget within three weeks.
But what about working with the crew? That’s in the next blog post… coming soon!
James Smith, writer-director