Sound Asleep, the comedy short film I have been writing, producing and directing, has finally wrapped! It stars Danny John-Jules (The Cat from Red Dwarf).
graphic by peter ayres
Long time coming
- 6 years ago I wrote a film script.
- 5 years ago it was runner-up for Film London funding.
- 4 years ago same thing, different funder.
- 3 years ago I ran a successful Kickstarter.
- 2 years ago we tried to shoot the film but it fell through, last minute.
- 1 year ago the same thing.
After 4 producers, 4 casting directors, 3 art directors, 3 locations, 2 Directors of Photography, 2 builds, and just one resilient director, in December I flew to Spain to shoot it.
Director and crew head to Spain
The project had been struggling in the UK. Our budget prevented us from being able to afford both the set build costs and the studio space to build it in at UK prices. In Spain we not only managed to resolve that but also engage the exceptional art director, Marcelo Renieblas Paredes.
Coming with me was Emmy Award winning Director of Photography Franklin Dow (of Oscar nominated documentaries Virunga and White Helmets) and camera assistant Naomi Hancock. Producer Dino Webber, production assistant Nick Gaven and runner Kristen Abel drove the van of SLV film equipment, and a generator loaned by Warner Brothers from London to Madrid.
Nadaav and Danny on set
Arriving on set in Madrid
We arrived at the film studio on the outskirts of Madrid to see the amazing set Marcelo and his team had been building. It was a thrill to see Dean’s flat become reality. An odd, hyper real, anachronous reality. Perfect for this quirky comedy.
Set build and camera planning on the set of Sound Asleep.
Danny John-Jules on the set of Sound Asleep
The crew got together and we put the finishing touches to the set and started pre-lighting. When Red Dwarf’s Danny John-Jules arrived, we began a brief rehearsal.
Danny John-Jules makeup test.
Danny John-Jules in a makeup check with Marina H on the set of Sound Asleep
Danny is an amazing presence to work with. Years of experience and natural talent meant he was unlike any actor I have worked with. He brought precision, skill, comedy timing and wit to the role beyond my expectations. With no one to bounce off on screen, the film really benefits from his inspiring performance and commitment.
Short Film – Long Days
There’s no point in hiding from it – this was always going to be a tough shoot. A £250,000 film made for £10,000. Days were long, conditions were not glamorous, and Madrid in winter is cold! Much colder than us Brits anticipated!
The team really pulled together. Danny’s performance, Marcelo’s set and Frank’s lighting coming together on screen inspired everyone to give everything they’ve got.
Watching back Danny’s amazing performance as Deen Peels
Nadaav and Frank plan the next shot
International Film Crew
Working with a foreign crew has challenges; the language barrier primarily. This was overcome with a mixture of patience, drawings and google translate, as well as the efforts of bilingual 1st Assistant Director Josemari Martínez. By the final day, it was barely evident anymore and British DoP Frank Dow finally remembered his Spanish gaffer’s name. (Thanks for your patience Adolfo!).
L to R: Nadaav, Marcelo, Adolfo, Frank and Danny
Nadaav, Naomi, Marcelo and Danny nervously watch playback
The final shots were a triumph. All the departments came together and pulled everything out of the bag. As Marcello’s set was blown up, Danny’s character stumbled through his wrecked home. Marina H’s makeup was spot on, smoke and lighting was perfect, props fell at just the right moment, and even the dog barked on cue. We had one chance at that closing shot, and we nailed it.
Marcelo, Nadaav and Frank prepare the final shots
Nadaav and Frank on set
Danny as seen from the playback monitor
Exhausted but satisfied, all that was left was to pack up the van and get back to London, in time for a well earned Xmas break.
Edit and Post-Production
As I write this, Nick is busy completing the log and we are preparing for the edit. There’s still a lot to do. Edit, vfx, grading, foley, music and sound design. Plus a few pickup shots we need to get in London. We believe this will be a really special piece so we’re not going to hurry – we couldn’t afford to even if we wanted to!
Thanks to all the kickstarter backers and friends and supporters of the project. You can keep an eye on the film’s progress on our kickstarter and facebook.
Josemari, Nadaav, Marcelo, Frank and Adolfo
Starring: Danny John-Jules
Producer / Director / Writer: Nadaav
Producer: Dino Webber
Director of Photography: Franklin Dow
1st Assistant Director: Josemari Martinez
Art Director: Marcelo Renieblas Paredes
Sound Recordist: Juan Carlos “Charlie” Arribas
Gaffer: Adolfo Berzosa Rodriguez
Makeup Artist: Marina H
Costume: Sammm Agnew
Original Music: Rich House
Camera Assistant: Naomi Hancock
Art Department Assistant: Luis Morales
Production Assistant: Nick Gaven
Runner: Kristen Abel
Dog Trainer: Mariano Galán
Cuddles the dog: Cavatina