Last week I was lucky enough to be asked to nip onto the set of the new movie by Neil Marshall. It was doubly exciting because a) I’m a big fan of the guy – I still think his Dog Soldiers is an exceptional piece of British genre film making – and b) I’ve been hoping for a chance like this since we did the Indy thing in Cannes last year.
I’d already been mulling over another trip to Cannes to see if we (we being probably myself and Dan Light again) could do something fun there one more time. But the problem with doing anything once a film has wrapped is that things very quickly fall into a very ordered junket machine. There’s room on those now for social media types, of course, and I’m always happy to go along, but it takes a lot of persuasion to do something truly new and innovative as I think we did with Spielberg, Lucas and the cast of Crystal Skull. Well, persuasion or a certain amount of subterfuge and luck.
The idea of letting someone like me (an idiot loaded down with phones, cameras and video crap) onto an actual set or location while a movie is still being shot should be a laughable proposition. But the ability to not fuck up in situations where its very easy to make a mess has garnered me a little reputation and something of a track record in doing exactly this kind of thing.
Still, I was surprised to get the email from @wez asking me down for the day – the Centurion set up until that point had been very secure with only one official photograph being released (the above shot of Olga Kurylenko looking very fucking awesome as the Pict warrior, Etain) and there’s a lot riding on this movie as a followup to the rather schizophrenic Doomsday. But after a meeting to clarify what the day would entail we were all set.
And it all went very well. We got lost a little, we spent most of the morning in a Roman fort watching an action sequence come together (fire, blood, screaming etc) and got to hang out with Neil and members of the cast who were on set – namely Olga, David Morrissey and Michael Fassbender. We spent some time chatting to the crew and I was also in the company of a chap from Pathe and @Nevskyp from Den of Geek who were there also to cover the production side of the movie. The main difference in our approach was that my content flew out directly from the set to the fans and also threw in questions sourced from Twitter. I took a lot of kit with me, but in the end opted for my newest social media tool – Audioboo.
I actually have a lot of video and photography from the day too, but the deal was that none of that gets out just yet. Which is fine with me – I only just today found an outlet for some of the stuff I’ve been sitting on from 12 months ago. The beauty of Audioboo on the day was it allowed me to get the feel of the production out alongside Twitter updates while not having to worry about releasing the visuals – although the makeup and special effects I saw were wonderfully detailed. You can read an overview of Audioboo over on @documentally’s blog.
The interviews I got up on the day were with Ian, the publicist, who allowed me way more access than I was expecting:
Closely followed by Nick, the supervising armourer:
Followed by the director himself:
Then David Morrissey:
And finally Michael Fassbender:
Myself getting in the car with Fassbender came about entirely by accident. He found me straight after David Morrissey meaning we both had to wait for Audioboo to do its thing. So instead of hanging around waiting for the upload to finish we shared a car back to a different part of the set. That the PR people were happy for me to drive off with the male lead like that speaks volumes about how open these guys have been. I was introduced to so many people as ‘Mike from Twitter’ simply because I was constantly tapping away at the iPhone or balancing my MacBook on a fallen log.
I also got to have a brief chat with Olga, but just as the wind picked up – meaning an on the spot decision not to use the recording. That was a shame because she spoke about why she was drawn to the role and how Neil likes to create strong female roles. Then we moved locations and were treated to the sight of fully armed Pict warriors accompanying our 4X4 into the heart of the forest to take a tour of one of the other sets – a beautiful and traditionally crafted Pict hut – where we got to chat to more crew and watch a little more of the action before heading back to London.
Happily I get to do one more piece of Centurion fun in the morning. Which I’ll mention in the next post…