Belfast racist attacks parallel Rostock

The events in Belfast over the last month bear strong parallels with events in Rostock, Germany, in 1992.

In Rostock in August 1992 police withdrew while the homes of Vietnamese guest workers were petrol bombed and held under siege by neo-Nazis. In the last month over 100 Roma migrants have been driven from their homes by a series of racist attacks and intimidation. In the last few days the The Observer has reported that several explosives have been discovered that were intended to be used in further racist attacks.

The film The Truth Lies in Rostock (Spectacle 1993) gives an inside account of the events that took place in Germany interviewing anti-fascists, locals, police and neo-Nazis to find out how the siege was allowed to happen. This is vital viewing for all anti-fascists trying to understand events in Northern Ireland.

To order a copy of the The Truth Lies in Rostock and watch the trailer visit our Catalogue page.

To view an edit of Spectacle’s Council of Europe anti-discrimination film please the Project Page

The storm… after the calm.

Para leer este blog en español pincha aquí.

The day starts early for us, but the excitement charges our batteries more than the first coffee of the morning. The Director, 1st AD and Producer Assistant all meet in the office. We pick up the props and head off to North London.

Surprisingly, we get to the location too early. Its miraculous, London transport has for once worked perfectly. We meet the 2nd AD and the director of photography and go to knock Karim’s door. He’s the landlord of the location and wants to give us some instructions: where the actors are allowed to smoke, where we can put all the furniture, the safety measures that we have to keep in mind…

The actors wait upstaris having a chat

The actors wait upstaris having a chat

Some of the actors arrive really early too. They were also concerned about the usual transport surprises and prefer to arrive too early than not arrive at all.  They make themselves comfortable upstairs and get to know each other.  It will be a long wait. The beginning of the shoot is hard to get right. It is the key moment when most of the lighting has to be set up in the proper place.

The actors come downstairs. We start shooting all the “above the glass” shots. Mark Saunders, the director, give some directions and Claire Sharples, the 2nd AD, tell the actors where their initial position is. We still need more time.  We crowd all together around the monitor to see how the shot will look. The overexposed effect is great, but we find several dark “stains”: the edge of one small bulb in the ceiling, one of the rubber tops of the tripod’s leg… we cover all the defects with white tape and eventually we see the clapperboard in front of the camera: Roll 1    Scene 1    Take 1

All together around the monitor, checking the framing

All together around the monitor, checking the framing

Some feelings characterize the first hours of the shoot, perfectionism and optimism. This is not bad, but it can entail some problems: we can easily run out of time.  We all need to focus. The lunch break keeps being put off and people start getting nervous. Finally, we take the break and everybody seems satisfied with the job done so far.

First directions of the day

First directions of the day

The moment arrives to shoot the takes that made us to come to this location: the ones around the glass ceiling. The extras exchange contact numbers and leave the space.

Shots from “under the glass ceiling” work perfectly. Nevertheless, we are using some extra time that we haven’t contracted with the landlord, so we call him asking for one more hour. Costs start to rise, but we can’t let the pressure to drive us to take hasty decisions that will lead to problems in editing.

We move upstairs to shoot from “above the glass ceiling”. Lights are ready, camera in position, actors prepared… and suddenly, without prior warning, the camera switches off. We are already using a second extra hour. Karim, the landlord, arrives to the location. “We are having some technical problems”, how many times has he heard that excuse? Fortunately, the camera starts working again and we are able to take the last shot of the day.

Have we got everything we need? We think so. We tidy up, clean everything, put the furniture in place again… and leave the location. We talk about the day on our way back home. We are tired and a bit worried about having used two extra hours, but this is a normal issue in film production.
The next shooting day will be at Brunel University. We will use their green screen. It will be a quieter day and every take will be more planned because every shot has to be from specific distances and angles. There is no room for improvisation. On the plus side we don’t have time limit to use these premises so there is more time to get things right. It seems that it will be a journey without mishaps, but we won’t count our chickens before they are hatched.

If you want to see the pictures of the shooting, click here to visit flickr.

If you want to see the first samples of the video, click here.

If you want to get more information about the project “Speak out against discrimination”, click here.

For more information about Spectacle, click here.

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Editing the Glass Ceiling

Deja tus opiniones en español aquí.

Editing has started and we need to know your opinion.

If you want to see the progress, you can see the first, second, third and forth edit in the project web site.

Any suggestion, opinion, criticism will be welcomed.

The show is about to begin…

Para leer este blog en español pincha aquí.

The day before the shoot. The atmosphere is filled with nerves. We have the last meeting to decide the final details for the shoot.

In the meeting we decide the role each person will fulfill during the shoot. We try to organize every detail for the next day and to have a clear schedule. In the morning, first thing is to meet Karim, the owner of the location. At the same time, the technical equipment should arrive and the technicians start setting up. There will also be a meeting with the director, the DoP, CGI specialists and the first AD while the second AD is getting the frosted glass ready.

At 11.30 everything should be ready to start shooting.

During the meeting, the storyboard and the shooting plan are on the floor. We can see every shot, the technical crew and actors needed in each of them as well as the props needed.

We decide which actors will participate in each shot, their role, which directions they are going to take, how many of them there are in each shot.

We check the list of things we need to take to the shoot. All the props we have been collecting like hats, coats, handbags…and even a crutch…

We have the contracts, the make up, the menu, video camara to shoot ‘the making off‘ and the camera to take pictures during the shooting.

Everything seems to be ready.  We send an email to all the cast and the technical crew with the call sheet and all the information needed: address, contacts, map, time…and we wish everybody good luck.

We phone all the actors to make sure they are coming the following day and that they received all the information.

And…even if we are still nervous, we leave the office feeling that everything is under control. Next day we will meet at 7 am at Lavender Hill to start with the real action. The show is about to begin…

If you want to get more information about the project “Speak out against discrimination”, click here.

For more information about Spectacle, click here.

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The pillars of the project

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After having kept you in suspense with the “focus puller” problem, the moment has arrived to clear up all the doubts: Sam Rawlings has chosen to join us in the damp London instead of taking a short working trip to Italy. Well, that’s a relief!

Nevertheless, after doing the numbers we realised that something was wrong with the casting. We’re lacking two actors: someone representing the Middle East and someone from North Africa. The shooting will be in less than a week and there’s a weekend and a bank holiday before. We have to organise an audition and decide immediately who will be the new actors. We announce the second audition and in a few minutes we have printed out some new faces cv’s. We’ll risk our necks in a few hours and with a small sample of just eight actors. As if that wasn’t enough, we can’t use the same venue where we held the casting the first time. Fortunately, a charming Scottish security guy who greets us every morning with a “Buenos días, señorita”, suggests us to use the office next to ours. So we organise the audition and choose Rebecca Nasir and Rungano Nyoni, two young up-and-coming talents from London. Rungano forgot her appointment for the audition, right, but we know that she won’t forget the shooting day, will she?

Maybe the shooting day will arrive and we won’t have hands enough to set everything up and move all the furniture in the location, but we have at least our crew and actors:

– Mark Saunders, Director/Producer
Mark Carey, the director of photography
Sam Rawlings, the slippery focus puller
Rob Collins, the gaffer who will light our path
– Pilar, Cati and Clair, as producer’s assistant, 1st and 2nd AD
Steel Wallis, main face of the video, accompanied by Wendy Forbes, Hannah Raehese, Rebecca Nasir and Asif Dewan in the world above and below the glass.
– Completing the cast, Maine Auguste, Leonie Charles, Fan Yang, Daz Kaye, Denis Khoroshko, Rungano Nyoni, Angela Tennant and Víctor Zaragoza, inhabitants of the impersonal world above the glass

We have all that we need, haven’t we? When we visited the location it was clear that the frosted effect that we’d seen in the pictures is what we need for our shoot, but the glass floor is totally transparent. Actually, the pictures that we’d seen were from a glass door.

¿Existe una medida internacional de translucidez?

Is there any international frosting measure?

We have to find out how to get this look without damaging the glass floor. We find some stores next to the office where we can get a frosting spray, but we prefer a window frosting film that we’ve found in an online store, but we’ll need at least 3 working days to get it dispatched. As we said before, there is a weekend and a bank holiday before the shooting day. We’re running out of time, as usual. We call the providers and explain our problem. We give them the address of the location. If Karim isn’t there when they arrive, they can deliver it to Mark Carey, who fortunately lives in the same building. If he’s not at home, they’ll leave the parcel in his neighbour’s home. All the possibilities are catered for. We can just cross our fingers and hope Sam won’t run away to Italy, Rungano will remember her appointment with us and the frosting film will get to the location on time.

If you want to get more information about the project “Speak out against discrimination”, click here.

For more information about Spectacle, click here.

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Giving shape to the project

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So what’s the conclusion from the director of photography after having visited the location with the glass floor? Does the CGI expert agree with this space? We now depend on these people to take the next steps. Once again we’re at a standstill and, considering that we’re running out of time, being unable to do anything is really stressful. The worst of all is to know that maybe the conclusion will be that we have to go back to our previous plan, forget about the location with the glass floor and order the perspex. This would mean that we’ve been wasting time that we don’t have just to end up going back to the starting point.
The day after the meeting, we receive these pictures from Mark Carey, the director of photography:

It seems to fit our requirements, but the CGI experts, Dave Barnard and Alan Marques, have the final say. Fortunately, after a few days, we receive some videos that make everything much clearer. They are the pre-visualization of the shooting in the location and in the studio. Alan has made 3D simulations of the shooting that are really useful. All the creative decisions now become technical decisions and the pre-visualizations wipe out the charm of the uncertainty, but I think we’ve had enough uncertainty so far, so we’re really pleased with these videos.

If you want to share in our happiness, download the videos from here:

Previs on location 1

Previs on location 2

Previs on studio 1

Previs on studio 2

Or watch them in our web site.

Thanks to this, we now know which lenses we need, the distance and angle of the shots… we even know how tall our actors have to be!

Finally, we can happily say that this is REALLY up and running.

Now we can go ahead and we all know that everything will speed up, but this doesn’t have to finish up in tragedy if we all know what we have to do and if we’re organized. We know which camera we need: the Red One; which lenses and lighting we have to order; which other props we have to get, like a black and a green cloth, a green rope, a window frosting film

On the other side, the moment has arrived to speak with the owner of the location, and that’s something that we’re a bit concerned about. We’re really enthusiastic with the idea of shooting the video in that place, but… what if he is not as keen on it as we are? What if he doesn’t like more than 20 people wandering around his house, with a lot of cameras and lighting and food? (yes, it’ll be a long working day and we all need to eat at some point).

We visit the location wearing our best smiles and promising to behave. We take the measure of the glass, try different lenses and angles… and speak with the landlord. It’s a tricky issue because this location is his house, and he’s had bad past experiences with big production crews, so he prefers small photographic projects. He’s concerned about the implications for the neighbourhood. We get to an agreement and he even gives us some advice regarding the catering. Things are looking better… or are they?

Mark Carey (director of photography), Mark Saunders (producer), Dave Barnard (CGI expert) and Karim (landlord) working

Mark Carey (director of photography), Mark Saunders (producer), Dave Barnard (CGI expert) and Karim (landlord) working

Dave Barnard relaxing for a while and then discussing some points with Mark Carey

Dave Barnard relaxing for a while and discussing some points with Mark Carey below the "Glass Ceiling"

Suddenly a dark cloud sets over our heads. The focus puller calls saying that he’s been offered a 3 day job in Italy. We’re just offering him a 2 day job in Clapton. Mark, the Director of Photography, asks us to sort it out, even to put off the shooting day. No, that’s not possible. We’ve already contacted the actors, the Council of Europe, the other studio… Mark trusts in this focus puller and thinks he’s a key factor in this project. We’ll use state-of-the-art technologies and he only feels sure working with this guy. Few people know how to work with these equipments. Once again we see how many important people there are behind a film, while all we’ve dealt with so far is a few actors.

If you want to get more information about the project “Speak out against discrimination”, click here.

For more information about Spectacle, click here.

Undecided Decisions … A meeting with the technical crew.

Para leer este blog en español pincha aquí.

Just when we have made all the important decisions and it seems everything is sorted out and we can start thinking about the dates for the shooting day, all our decisions come tumbling down.

Technical problems (re)appear. We speak to the director of photography and he sheds some light on our doubts. At the same time, he shows us alternatives to problems we thought we had already solved.

We decide to have a meeting with him. It is the first meeting that brings together the CGI specialists, the director of photography and the production team.

There are some decisions we need to take up again. The storyboard is lying on the floor. It is the reference everything revolved around. The shooting schedule is also important. We have grouped all the shots we want to shoot. There are some shots in which we need the crowd walking over the glass, other in which we need to see the world above or below the glass. We should point out all the technical details for each group of shots.

We discuss how to get that over-exposed atmosphere for the wide shot, what kind of equipment, lights and studio we will need. There are different possibilities: shots below the glass in green screen. Shots of the crowd walking in a white infinity cove. There are different options…

A)   Build a glass structure/perspex Vs. Shooting in a location with glass floor/ceiling.

B)   Green Screen Vs White infinity cove.

All options are possible. Now, we need to make the right decision. We need to investigate a little bit more…

There are also different studios we could shoot in. The CGI people need to tell us if the spaces we have chosen are suitable for our shots, if it is possible to shoot there, and if the ceiling is tall enough for the shot we have chosen and the angles.

The director of photography tells us that there is a location that might be suitable for our plans because it has a glass floor/ceiling. He will send us some pictures tomorrow so we can get an idea about the aesthetic this location would create.

The conclusion: the easier thing for us to do would be to shoot in a location and in a studio with green screen, so that we do not need to build a structure.

The meeting is over. A million of different options is the result. Everybody has the feeling that there are more questions than answers. We are in a roller coaster going up the hill. We are waiting for the DoP and CGI technicians to decide which one is the best option. At which point the roller coaster will start speeding towards the finish…

If you want to get more information about the project “Speak out against discrimination”, click here.

For more information about Spectacle, click here.

En pocas palabras

If you want to read the English version, click here.

Parece que todo marcha por el buen camino: hemos encontrado un estudio y hemos decidido hacernos con una estructura de plexiglas. Además, este estudio ofrece algunos servicios extra que nos ahorrarán tiempo buscando cámara e iluminación. Por otra parte, el plexiglas también presenta algunas ventajas respecto al cristal: es mucho más fácil conseguirlo y se puede encargar con tan sólo un par de días de antelación (recordemos que el cristal tenía que encargarse al menos 15 días antes). En conclusión: todos estamos satisfechos y más “relajados”. Es un buen momento para empezar a centrarnos en la planificación del rodaje.

Nos hacemos con el desglose de los planos y los agrupamos en función de los actores que aparecen en ellos y de los requisitos técnicos. Lo ideal sería si pudiéramos trabajar un día con los extras y otro día con los actores principales. Nos ahorraríamos algo de dinero ya que no es imprescindible tener a ocho extras trabajando durante dos días cuando su papel de pasearse delante de la cámara, si bien es esencial, puede rodarse en una mañana. Con lo de “requisitos técnicos” nos referimos a en qué planos nos hará falta la estructura de plexiglas y en cuáles no. Afortunadamente, ambos factores son compatibles: los planos donde necesitamos a los extras no requieren de estructura de plexiglas.

Y así es como llegamos a la siguiente planificación del rodaje “ideal”, y con “ideal” quiero decir “muy optimista”:

  • Primer día por la mañana:

8 extras + actor principal + 3 actores secundarios (llamémosles B, C, D)

Rodaje en green screen.

  • Primer día por la tarde:

Actor principal + 3 actores secundarios (llamémosles B, C, D)

Rodaje en green screen.

  • Segundo día:

Actor principal + 2 actores secundarios (llamémosles E, F)

Rodaje en green screen con estructura de plexiglas.

Estamos tan familiarizados con el proyecto que todo parece muy obvio para nosotros, pero es difícil intentar explicar con palabras cada plano, sería un sinsentido. Resulta mucho más práctico e intuitivo ver el plan de rodaje, ya sabes, una visión gráfica, con colores, dibujos, y todas esas cosas que aligeran de palabras cualquier descripción y hacen todo mucho más fácil. Como dicen, una imagen vale más que mil palabras. Así que si quieres ver un primer borrador de nuestro plan de rodaje simplemente haz click aquí.

Si todo esto sale adelante significaría, además, que nos estaríamos ahorrando alrededor de 1000 euros en actores. Pero eso no supone mayor beneficio para la productora; simplemente significa que el dinero se mueve de una parte a otra del presupuesto. Vamos, que no son malas noticias, pero tampoco excelentes noticias.

Bien, bien, parece que el mecanismo se pone en marcha. Ahora “sólo” tenemos que reservar el estudio, citar a los actores, encargar el plexiglas y empezar a contratar personal técnico y artístico. Casi nada.

Para obtener más información acerca del proyecto “Speak out against discrimination”, pincha aquí.

Para obtener más información acerca de Spectacle, pincha aquí.

In a nutshell

Para leer este blog en español pincha aquí.

Everything seems to be on the right track: we’ve found a studio and we’ve decided to get the perspex structure. The studio also offers some extra services that will save us time researching camera and lighting equipment. Perspex has also some advantages compared to the glass: it’s easier to get it and we just need to order it a couple of days in advance (whereas we would need to order the glass with at least 15 days in advance). Summing up: we are all really pleased and “relaxed”. It’s a good time to start working hard on the shoot schedule.

We get hold of the breakdown, we group the shots depending on the actors and on the technical requirements in each of them. It would be perfect if we could work just one day with all the extras and another day with the main characters. Then we could save some money as we wouldn’t need eight extras working during two days when their role of strolling in front of the camera, even if it’s crucial, can be done in one morning. By  “technical requirements” I meant the shots will need the perspex structure. Fortunately, both of the factors are compatible: the shots where we need the extras don’t need the perspex structure.

So we get to the next “ideal” shooting plan (when I say “ideal” I mean “very optimistic”):

  • First day. Morning:

8 extras + main character + 3 background characters (let’s say B, C, D)

Green screen shooting.

  • First day. Afternoon:

Main character + 3 background characters (let’s say B, C, D)

Green screen shooting.

  • Second day:

Main actor + 2 background characters (let’s say E, F)

Green screen shooting and perspex structure.

We are already so familiar with the project that everything seems obvious, but it’s hard to explain with words each shot, so there’s no point in trying to do it. It’s much easier and intuitive to download the shooting plan so you can get a literal view, with color, design, and all that stuff that makes things more user friendly. A picture speaks a thousand words. So if you want to see the first draft of our shooting plan you just have to click here.

If these plans go ahead it will also mean that we would be saving circa £1000 in our casting. But this doesn’t mean that the company would profit; it just means that the money is moving from one point of the budget to another. In short, it’s not bad news, but it’s not excellent either.

Good, good, it looks like the project is up and running. Now we “only” need to book the studio, get the actors there on time, order the perspex and start hiring technical staff. That’s nothing!

If you want to get more information about the project “Speak out against discrimination”, click here.

For more information about Spectacle, click here.

“The Glass Ceiling” Problems with the glass

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Today everything seemed to be upside down. We had a lot of problems because of the glass. We could not find a suitable structure to use for the shoot and there were still a number questions to be answered.

Number one: What material should we use to build the structure?

We were going crazy calling glass experts and architects. They explained us the size we need for the glass in order to make it able to support a person weight. They told us that the glass is built with green tints, which is a problem if we are going to shoot in a green cove. In addition to that, the director of photography would have to deal with some more problems because the green color will be reflected in the glass.

Looking for other options.Can we use locations with glass already there?

We tried  to find a location in London with a glass floor that we could use for the shoot instead of a structure. We found different ones… We found a gym with glass corridors, a building made of glass, even an office with a glass floor/ceiling that could be perfect for our purpose.  But, to be honest, we did not feel happy with any of these options… When we talked with the CGI people and they told us that it is really complicated to integrate that space with the images we get at the Studio. So, we forget about that idea.

The final solution…Perspex!
Everything is getting more and more complicated. We make more calls, we seek more advice…

Do we really need to use glass or could we use perspex?

This is an idea we have had for a while and after seeking advice, we decided that it is the best solution. It will not be as heavy as glass, it will be faster and cheaper to make, it will be able to cope with one person walking in the surface and it will be easier to transport. So, finally we have a answer: PERSPEX.

If you want to get more information about the project “Speak out against discrimination”, click here.

For more information about Spectacle, click here.