If the writing goes tits up…

I’ve just had the most enormous fun making a trailer for Every Vow You Break. For me, writing is like running a movie in my head. So, it seems, is making a movie.

Last week, on a bitingly cold but brightly sunny day, I wrapped up so warm that I could barely move and set off into the wilds of Stanmer Park with YoungSon’s fancy schmancy camera. After half an hour of fiddling, I worked out how to switch it on, and I set off into the woods. I knew what I wanted, and, as soon as I realised how to get rid of my shadow and feet (hold it UP, and run INTO THE SUN, duh), I shot first-person point-of-view footage of what it would be like if you were being chased through woods. YoungSon assured me I could speed up the film in edit, so I took it easy and only fell over twice.

*SPOILER ALERT: YOU MIGHT WANT TO WATCH THE MOVIE (AT THE BOTTOM OF THIS POST) BEFORE READING THIS NEXT BIT*

The final part of the film requires a hand to be revealed, buried in the ground. After a bit of asking around on Facebook, I was advised to go to Revamp, a fancy dress shop in the North Laine, where they do a nice line in severed/zombie hands. I asked if they had something with a bit less blood on it, but they didn’t, so I bought this:

After an hour in hair and makeup (including a manicure – those nails were just too long) it looked more like this (if you want to recreate the look, use MAC prep and prime eye and some artist’s pastels):

If you know Brighton, you will know that, for anyone other than a total city girl, Stanmer Park isn’t the wilds at all. It’s rather a lot of lovely wooded hills within earshot of the A27, used by the people of Brighton and their dogs for their constitutionals. For the final scene I buried the corpse-hand in some leaves and took a good couple of hundred yards run-up to it with the camera. But unfortunately I had company. I just managed to beat an off-the-lead Staffy to the buried, severed corpse hand. It was a close shave. A moment slower and I would have had some explaining to do – although possibly some good headlines for my publicist to make use of.

Once the coast was clear, I re-shot the scene, incorporating the fall, which I accomplished so enthusiastically – so method, indeed –  that I quite badly bruised my knee on a tree stump.

Then I captured the breathy sound track by running through the trees holding my iPhone to my mouth while panting and wailing. By this point, I was beyond caring what the dog-walkers of Brighton felt, really.

Back home, I spent a very happy few hours editing in iMovie. It’s such fun! You can do just about anything you want, and the temptation is to make your film look all old-school crackles and dots and lightning flashes and negative bits. But my graphic design training – and my writing mind – kept telling me to keep it simple, so I pared back and pared back until I got something I was happy with. I only had to ask YoungSon for help about five times.

Then I handed the thing over to BigSon, who made a sound track for it, which ramped up the tension tenfold (you can hear some of his other work here and here). LittleSon helped me upload it YouTube (and you can see some of his other work here and here) and I proudly tweeted about its presence. But, almost immediately, BigSon thundered down the stairs (he does thunder on the stairs) and yelled at me to take the movie down, showing me that I had made a tiny, weeny movie which, at full screen looked a bit like pixellated cat sick. So I had to spend another eight hours re-creating it exactly, with 1/10th second accuracy to fit the sound track. But we’ve got there at last. And here it is, a labour of love:

2 thoughts on “If the writing goes tits up…

  1. Fantastic! Writer/film director! This sounds like fun and you’ve given me some inspiration to make my own trailer. Book happens mostly in Milan so isn’t that a great excuse for a Big City Day Out?

    1. It was enormous fun, possibly because I had such a clear idea of what I wanted, it didn’t involve any actors (beyond the hand) or costume, and the trees gave an interesting light of their own. I’ll definitely do it again, though.

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