The Location – Making The Shoot ‘Official’

You are always going to have problem making a shoot ‘official’ when it comes to securing your locations. One location was in Coventry city centre, and the other was at my house. But my main shoot was going to take place in Wainbody Wood – a public forest. Although it was open to the public though, that was just a fancy way of saying that the council owned it. I needed their permission.

I got in touch with the council via their website, and they were fairly quick in responding with a conditional go-ahead. All I needed to make the shoot official for public liability insurance (obtained from Coventry University – I’m covered because this is a university project and I am a student here), and a risk assessment form.

I managed to secure the public liability insurance without too much drama. The risk assessment also went pretty smoothly considering my past forays with paperwork (one of the reasons why I think ‘producing’ might not be one of my stronger areas in the industry!).

The Risk Assessment – Ultimately I was most worried about an attempted robbery of the equipment due to the isolated location. Use of a smoke machine was not included in the assessment, so I was sure to ‘stick to my guns’ once this had been sent off.

In the later stages of pre-production, it was brought into consideration using a smoke machine to re-create fog within the wood itself (not that I thought it could accurately replicate natural fog anyway – I have not used one before, and it would bring about more trouble than it was worth in the continuity areas of editing). I turned down this idea primarily on the premise that the risks of faking a ‘forest fire’ were too high.

Also, a body was found unearthed in the woodland about a week or so before  the actual shoot. It was just lucky that this did not affect my filming – it’s something that you think only happens in films! I was quite surprised at the news, and it did prompt another trip to the location to make sure all my shooting areas were still clear to film in.

Something that I completely missed was the notion of parking up – I knew there was a street nearby called The Spinney, and I assumed that was where crew could park up (remember in the presentation when I was joking about how easy the location was to access!). However, as this was an assumption, I made sure I went back a few days before the shoot to confirm. True to the worst case scenario, single and double yellow lines cleared out every street in a one mile radius of the shooting area. It was not a big problem, it just meant I needed to fund two taxis now instead (as originally we were getting driven there by a crew member and the actor). I was not going to risk my actor parking in an illegal zone – I could not ask this of him or my crew, and the risk was also too high, as if a traffic warden asked him to move his car, it would have taken an hour before we could continue the shoot as there were no nearby parking areas. (Being worried about getting a parking ticket may have also affected the actor’s performance, which wouldn’t have been beneficial to the production.)

Come the actual days of shooting, there was another factor that was always going to cause problems – the weather. I was just amazed at how bad the weather forecast updates for Birmingham actually were – the shooting day went from being forecast as ‘sunny all day’ on the Wednesday, to ‘mostly raining’ on the Friday. One the actual day, it was just overcast. Generally, I think we got really lucky with the weather – we only got caught in the rain once at the end of the second day of the filming, just thirty seconds of filming from the wrap! (Which I recorded anyway – I’ll see how it looks in the editing suite!)

Wainbody Wood – Straightforward enough to secure, but this place was just full of surprises! (Note the little wooden bridge at the top of the woodland path. It crosses a small dried up riverbed.)

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