Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Stop/Eject hits the Internet!

Hello everybody,

   Less than a week since the Stop/Eject website went live, and it's already recieved a lot of hits. If you haven't checked it out yet, now is the time:

    And of course, with the website came the release that we've all been waiting for with baited breath - the first trailer! I think that Neil did a great job of the edit, and I'm loving all the comments that have been rolling in. Already people are comparing it to Amelie and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.

   Not only is there the trailer, but this is also followed by a message from Neil himself (being the most enthusiastic I've seen him be) plus a hefty handful of behind-the-scenes snippets, to mark the start of our post-production funding campaign. You can see both the trailer and the new pitch video in one go - just look below:

   And as if that's not enough, in honour of our raising over £200 so quickly, I've also uploaded a little podcast from Shoot Day 6 (we were going to release Shoot Day 1 first but we smashed through our targets before that podcast was ready). The sixth filming day actually took place after the principle photography was over, so we were left with just the two actors (Georgina Sherrington & Oliver Park) and a skeleton crew, and the footage was captured on my stills camera.

   But it's a hilarious example of guerilla filmmaking at it's 'best', so we hope you enjoy watching the cast and crew getting soaked - as well as hearing Neil Oseman's interesting speech about ducks! Enjoy:

   There's plenty more podcasts to come (I should know, I'm currently ploughing through DVDs full of behind-the-scenes footage and editing the podcasts myself), but the only way you'll see them is if we raise more money in our post-production funding campaign. People assume that, just because a film's finished, no more money is needed, but that's not true. Just watch the new pitch video (on the end of the trailer) to see what's left to spend money on. One of these things, for example, is our premiere - those don't come for free - and I'm sure some of you would love to go to that. And if you want a DVD copy afterwards, then more costs are induced, such as buying the blank DVDs (and Blu-rays) and printing the covers.

   So, if you have a few pounds lying around, and you want to get Neil Oseman's beautiful little film released into the world (and recieve "absolutely loads of rewards" in Neil's own words) then hop on over to the website now.

Thanks guys!

Sophie x

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Stop/Eject Blog 2: The Living Room Set

Hey everybody,

   If I've published this post then that means that at least £100 has been raised on the Stop/Eject Pre-Production campaign, and that you are all wonderful. So I'm going to make this post as full, fun and interesting as I can, because you've earned it. Keep giving to the campaign and you'll unlock more rewards, including videos and other blog posts from people like Neil Oseman, the film's director.

   Go to the website now for more information on the new campaign, plus a frankly lovely little trailer and new pitch video:

   As frequent readers know, I wasn't just the film's Co-Producer, but also it's Production Designer - in fact I entered the project under that role and later got promoted - and Neil's requested that I go into a little more detail here about the design of the film. In the end the film had about twelve locations, seven of which required dressing in full or in part, so a break-down of all of these would be ridiculously long. Instead I've agreed to do a breakdown of the one set which required the most decorating, and which encompassed all of our themes, colours and inspirations for the film's design - Dan and Kate's living room set.

   Here's how the design began. At the end of Summer 2011, I had a meeting with Neil, costume designer Katie Lake (who I collaborated with heavily so that we could create an overall 'look' for the design of the film) and Executive Producer Tom Wadlow, in a cafe called The Black Cat - which was actually one of the locations for Jar of Angels - and a lot of buzz words were thrown around, such as 'retro' and 'happy' yellow colours contrasting with moodier blues. To back-up Neil's ideas, I was given a load of magazine clippings, and Katie even produced some fabrics that featured the intended colour scheme and suitably 'retro' prints:
Fabric samples in The Black Cat Cafe, Matlock.
   Before the week was out, Neil and Katie had set up an online pinboard full of further inspirations for the set dressing and costumes, and they sent me a link to that. I saved and printed out all the pictures relevant to me then put them with the magazine clippings and created a collage/moodboard on the back of my office door:

The Stop/Eject inspiration wall, which has been up in my office for nearly a year.

    On top of this, Neil (who is often finding inspiration and creativity in unusual places) sent me a photo of a coffee cup he'd found (see right), because it featured a lot of areas of the colour scheme and had a good retro style to it. So I added it to the list of inspirations. 

    The next step - as always with Production Design - was to start doing some concept art. I'd known from day one that the Living Room would need the most set dressing, which is why I only did a design for that room, although I did do some concept art of the 'weir kiss' and a various sketches for the alcove set. The living room had to be the perfect image of two personalities trying to cohabitate - Kate, the costume designer, with her love of colour, fabrics and nature, and Dan, the Sound Recordist/Mixer, with his slightly more grounded love of mechanics, 70s dark wood and retro geekery (I'm aware that I need to find another word for 'retro', but it really was used a lot during pre-production). Working references to sound into the design, such as images of tape cassettes, not only suited Dan's character, but gave a knowing nod to the audience who, by this point, will have seen the magical tape recorder, and know it to be a symbol for time (in Dan's case, a lack of it).

   So this room was my opportunity to get all the design ideas into one space. For that reason I had to pick a perfect wall colour - a lot of the colour scheme seemed reminiscent of the 1970s to me, which was in fashion at the end of Summer 2011, and the main colour which kept cropping up was mustard yellow, so I chose that. I also knew that, being in fashion, it would be easy to find that colour paint around the time of filming (not knowing it would end up being pushed back seven months). I also wanted to work some form of writing onto the living room now. Anyone who knows my work will have noticed that 'words on walls' is a reoccurring motif for me, and it all started with a love of Baz Luhrmann's films (I won't go into too much detail but, seriously, watch his films and try and find one which doesn't feature a massive word with people kissing/singing/dancing in front of it!). For me, the word that summed up the film was 'live' - because Dan loses his life, but also because Kate finds a way to move on and to keep living without him. In a way, also because all the tapes stretched out are a perfect image of life captured. Plus fabric lettering would work in the set, being the type of thing crafty Kate would make in her spare time.

   Neil first green-lit the 'live' wall-word and the mustard colour during our second location recce, when I did this sketch for him whilst we were on a train from Matlock:

The very first concept sketch for the Living Room
   The first 'proper' sketch was done using a basic water-colour painting of a room with mustard walls, which I used as a background-then digitally added items from the inspiration wall as well as photographs of things I had in my possession which I thought might be suitable:

My original concept art for Dan and Kate's Living Room
   Back then we didn't know where the location was going to be, how big it would be or how much furniture would be supplied. If we'd had to buy extra furniture then we would've not only had to budget for it, but also find ways to raise the extra money. It was one of the first major worries I had when we did the project. Of course, back then I wasn't Co-producer, and I didn't have half as much work or concerns!

   When the project got back on track, I started looking for the house location pretty early on so that I would know how much work had to be done. I even looked into local houses which were up for rent (or for sale but doing badly) where we could pay to film in as well as accommodate the cast and crew. This meant talking to estate agents and taking sneaky photographs such as this:

Photographing a potential living room through the window - I don't recommend you try that at home!

   Then, during the third (or was it fourth) location recce, me and Neil had a stroke of luck when we found suitable rooms not only for the living room but for THREE OTHER settings right above Magpie, the location for the film's charity shop. The problem then was not finding a living room, but choosing which room to use!

   We narrowed it down to three, and my preference was this room, not only because it seemed a believable size for a living room in a flat, but because I thought that the wooden panels fit perfectly with the film's style and colour pallet. I also loved the way one of the walls (not pictured) was at an angle - I hate how plain, box-shaped rooms on camera - plus it had a good fireplace:

My personal choice for the Living Room location
   To help get my point across to Neil, I then did a new concept art for the living room - fully using Photoshop this time - setting it in my choice of room and decorated accordingly:

Concept Art for Dan and Kate's living room, mark II.
   Ultimately, after much thought, Neil chose a different room, one which unfortunately didn't have wooden panels but was bigger so provided much more space for the all-important shots. I was disappointed, but I got over it, and the room I would've chosen ended up being the perfect space for hair & make-up, costume changes, and catering. (And the resulting tracking shots in the living room do look great!).

   So, we had our room, and we had our furniture. My own sofa was used (kudos to everyone who had to lug that up and down three lots of stairs) and the rest of the furniture was borrowed from the shop below. This was great because it saved us money, although we were restricting to working with whatever was there.

   Next job was to paint the walls. As I covered in my first Stop/Eject blog post, I had help to do this from a volunteer called Ellie Ragdale. I also had a floor plan from Neil, which was important because it showed me which areas would be in shot, so I knew that we only had to paint three of the four walls. By this point, mustard yellow was out of fashion, so I had to mix the colour as closely as I could using three parts 'Happy Yellow' to one part 'Coffee'.

   I came in the next day, when it was dry, and spent the whole afternoon dressing the set. I won't take up even more space with a breakdown of every item, but the things used were a mixture of some bought especially for the project, some from my own personal collection, and a few more objects borrowed from the shop. 

    And of course, I took the characters personalities into account - amongst the sewing miscellany for Kate, I made sure there were a few hand-made items which she could have done. I personally made the fabric letters for the word 'live', and the sofa blanket & one of the cushions were things my Mum had knitted in the past. I also got a couple of people to make quick origami birds, which I dotted around the place as things Kate might have done when she was bored and fidgety.

   Here's how the room took shape over the space of that first set dressing day. At the start of set dressing (blank painted walls):

Half-way through the afternoon (most items on walls and unsightly pieces like the the sink and fireplace covered by fabric):

And at the end of the day (almost finished, just waiting for the furniture I couldn't carry myself):

   You may notice a few round things in the room. Neil wanted to bring as many circles into the film's visuals as possible, not only to echo the cogs of the magical tape recorder, but also to represent time, or the passing of time (see Neil's blog post about this, because he describes it better!). Putting Vinyl records on the wall worked well to support the circle theme as well as suiting Dan's character and his love of sound as well as all things (dare I say it) retro. I also carried the circle motif further by creating a collage above Kate's sewing area out of paper-covered cardboard circles. The vase of poppies and little things like circular coasters in close-up shots also helped to carry the theme.

   The photos on the walls were almost all provided by Darren Johnston of IDJ Photography, and you can check out his work here.

Update: Tommy Draper caught me in the act, making the finishing touches on shoot day 1.

   There were some things that I couldn't do to the living room until the shoot. For example, Georgie and Ollie didn't meet each other until a day before the shoot, so I had to wait until then to get 'couple photos' of Kate and Dan. Neil also provided a lot of Dan's sound kit - and we tried to work some of Katie's costume work into the set too - so they brought all those bits with them when they travelled down to Derbyshire.

   So, without further ado, here is the living room set as it appears in the film's rushes:

Kate goes through Dan's old stuff. Note the main costume from The Dark Side of the Earth on the mannequin behind her!

Kate uses the tape recorder to go back and visit Dan, working at his desk.

   When I do concept art, it is because I know how I want something to look in my head, but need to show it to other people. Then, as long as the finished set looks my drawing (and as long as the director approves) then I'm happy. If you compare the concept art with how the room appears in the film, I think you'll see why I was satisfied!

   If there's one thing I could've changed it would've been Dan's desk, and not in a bad way. Like I said, working with the furniture there, we were limited with what we could use, and Dan's desk was a little too small to fit on a few of the techno geeky items I had for him. But the desk still looked good and was big enough for Ollie to act with, so I don't really mind at all. 

   One of the things which did make its way onto Dan's side of the set was a retro (oops, said that word again) wooden hoopla game, which you can clearly see in the shot above. I was slightly delirous from flu when I bought some of the set dressing, and a mix of the circular hoops plus my wanting to portray Dan's playful side (even in his working space) pursuaded me to buy it. It was only £2 and, although Neil's eyebrows did go up a little when I first produced it, I think it worked. It's nice to throw in the odd unsual item amongst the usual predictable pieces of dressing, and it's something a viewer might notice the second or third time around. And, of course, anything which promotes multiple viewing of a film is good!

   Right, now you know everything there is to know about my work on Stop/Eject's Living Room set.  I hope that you enjoyed it, and that it inspires you to keep giving to the post-production campaign. There's lots more rewards coming your way, including podcasts from each shoot day, which are definitely worth a look.

  I leave you now with a photo our Gaffer took of the cast and crew on the living room set. By this point in the shoot I was pretty haggered and had hair like a female Tim Burton, so certainly wasn't in the mood for a photo, but I'm still pretty chuffed that the living room was chosen for our group shot:

Photo of our lovely little crew by Colin Smith

  Sophie x

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Sophie On: Jema Hewitt

Hey guys,

   A few months ago, I did a survey on my Facebook Page to find out if there was anything my readers/fans wanted to see more of. Amongst the replies (such as 'more Manny the Guinea pig') was a request for me to write about different individuals and businesses I've met or worked with, rather than just talking about myself.

   This makes a lot of sense. I've encountered so many wonderful, inspirational people throughout my filmic adventures, and anyone who reads my blogs to learn about the industry would probably value the diversity of my profiling someone else.

   For my first post about an 'outside contact', I thought I'd dip into the world of costume, as so many of you seem to be reading the posts I write about that area. I used to be fairly cautious of meeting other costume designers, particularly when I was just out of university and worried about competition when it came to job-hunting, but recently I've enjoyed working with Katie Lake (costume designer on The Dark Side of the Earth and Stop/Eject) and rising-designer Gina Hames, who I've been training along the way. But today I'll be talking about the first professional costume designer I ever met, Jema Hewitt.

One of my early pieces. Don't judge - I was only 17!
   Hewitt, who originally trained in Theatre Design at Nottingham Trent University, is one of the Midland's (relatively) undiscovered jewels. Not only does she make the biggest dresses I've seen in person - which she sells worldwide through her business, Kindred Spirits Bridal Originals - but she'd also a published author, accessory maker, and a regular hit at the UK's Steampunk conventions. I first contacted her when I was doing my A-levels and they required me to get a professional's feedback on my coursework. The work in question was my first Art Deco piece (and officially the last time I tried to do machine embroidery), and she was very complimentary of it, kindly brushing over the fact that all the little shapes I'd done were sewn on wonky!

   Fast-forward nearly four years, I was in my last year at the University for Creative Arts, and we were required to do a study on a professional under a unit called 'The Business of Film'. At the time I was specialising in Production Design and was getting a bit of a reputation for my interest in Costume, so it made sense for me to talk about someone in that area. I remembered Jema Hewitt, and she remembered me; and luckily for me, she found time to let me interview her during the Easter Holidays, when I was back in the Midlands.

   She gave me a lovely long interview, full of useful advice, and whilst I found it all fascinating, I'm not going to inundate you with it all now. But, for the first time, I am going to share key parts of that interview, in the hope that you will not only learn from it as I did, but that you will also discover Hewitt as the artist that she is. What's most interesting for me now, reading back over the interview, is how eager I seemed, even though at that time I was nearing graduation and had no idea what work I would find (if any) when I moved back home. I didn't know of all the wonderful work that would come my way in the next two years, whereas Hewitt had already been through that time of uncertainty, and come out of it a business mogul...


Interview with Jema Hewitt: Spring, 2010
Having climbed numerous stone stairs, and weaved my way through a maze of old rooms, I find myself in a stylishly cluttered little studio, sat across from the Midland’s biggest name in Costume Design – Jema Hewitt.

Having mused over the practicality of her studio’s whitewashed wooden floor, and the neatness of piped seaming on the edge of a bodice, we now sip at hot drinks while I interview her (and she assures me that the constant refills of coffee won’t stop when I make it into the industry myself).

Jema Hewitt in her Studio.

 Me: So tell me about your previous work in the industry.
Jema: Well, I started straight from Uni, and I did mainly small films, so I’d combine being the Designer with also being the Wardrobe Mistress on set, and organising the team to do that; making stuff, breaking stuff down again, making sure it all got to places on time.
I’ve done a lot of puppetry and things like that. I worked on Blood, I also... did a short film called Does God play Football?, which was set in the 1960's... The extras all wore their own clothes; after I had given guidelines, there was a costumed casting call to pick them and I provided accessories – headscarves, handbags… all sourced from charity shops etc. The priests robes were hired from a costumiers and the mothers fashionable dresses were sourced (and hired, as they were original pieces), from a local vintage clothing store.
 When I left uni, it was before the internet, and it was a completely closed shop. I didn’t know how to get a job. The only thing that I had heard of was The Stage. So I got The Stage and I looked in it, diligently, every week, and there was never any job that I could apply for. After about a year, I got completely disillusioned. And I was broke, so I started making costumes and things to sell, just as bits and pieces, and from that I started getting work on small films as a designer, just because people had seen what I did, and liked it. It was word of mouth; my first ten or fifteen jobs all came from people that I knew, who were doing similar things.

Me: So when did you start building this? (I indicate the studio around us)

Jema: This business [has started] since I finished Uni, because I learnt how to make corsets for the historical/theatrical side of things, and I was fortunate enough at the time that no-one else new how to make corsets! So I was running a sort of small business, making bespoke corsets, continuously. Wedding dresses grew out of that, side by side with doing bits of film, bits of puppetry, bits of design work, and so on.
     I moved to this studio in 2000, and before that I was running my business from my front room in my shared house!

Detail of an 18th Century gown by Hewitt.
Me: Do you think that Britain is the best place to run a Costumer’s business in? Are there places overseas that are more supportive?

Jema: To be honest, I think that Britain is hard because we do have a Film industry, and we do have a good Television industry, but it is dominated by the BBC and a few big companies. It’s dominated by Pinewood, Cosprop, Angels, and there isn’t an awful lot of room for smaller general Costume people, or Costume Companies. There’s quite a lot of room for specialists, like people who make 18th Century covered buttons, if that’s all you do. Or if you make handmade lace, you might get continuous business from films, all of whom are doing period things, and you are the only person who makes handmade lace. But that’s not the same as having a Costume Company.
     A lot of manufacturing has gone abroad. There’s a lot of work being done at costs so much cheaper than we can even contemplate doing it here, particularly for historical things. Most Costume Designers are sending their work abroad to be embroidered, embellished, even if they are then getting it back and making it up in a workshop themselves. 

Me: Is it better for an industry to specialise in a certain area, to offer a specific type of costume, or do you need to be more varied to keep the business going? I mean, you said about people who make lace and buttons, and they always get the work…

Jema: Yes, but they’re not just getting work from films. I’ll use a friend of mine as an example – she’s a braid maker. She hand-weaves different braids. She’s very skilled and she makes braids – that’s all she does. She’s a weaver, and she does it for re-enactment, she does it for film, she does it for museums, and gets continuous work. But she’s a braid maker, not a costume maker. 
To continue to run a business, making costumes, you’ve got to be incredibly versatile, and you’ve got to be able to make historically accurate ones for museums, you’ve got to be able to make beautiful, fantasy, fairy-tale ones for brides, and anything in-between. Or you’re going to be one of the very big companies that people already hire costumes from
There aren’t costume companies that just make costumes for Film. Costumiers come together for a film, and then they all disperse again. So your Costume Designer might put together a workshop of her own people, and she’ll have a pattern cutter that she always works with, that she likes, and they’ll source fabric, and she’ll have someone else, and they’ll hire a warehouse, and you’ll have a costume department that only exists for a year, and then it just disappears again. That’s how that works.

Or you have a big hire company. I mean, even Angels have had to diversify into fancy dress. 
'Queen of the Night' gown by Hewitt
 Me: Do you always have your own style that you put into your work, when you make a costume, or a particular type of costume that you always make? Or do you have to conform to make the money, for a client or for a film?

Jema: I do have a house style, now. I think that most people who know my work would recognise it straight off. Obviously, when you’re working in modern clothes for an advert, or something like that, it’s very different. It’s not obvious that it’s yours because you’ve bought it, you know, from the high street, so it’s a lot harder to distinguish. But if I’m doing big dresses, yeah, I think people would spot one of my dresses.

Me: So you don’t think that you have to conform too much, for the sake of the money?

Jema: When I’m making wedding dresses, obviously I have to listen to the bride – listen to what it is that they are wanting – and on film I have to listen to the director. But again, when you get to a certain stage, people don’t come to you unless they like what you do. They don’t come to you because you’re the only one, they come to you because they want you, and if they want you, they want you for a reason. And the reason is that they love your style. So, yeah, I think it’s important to have something special about what you do that makes you individual. I mean, you can recognise one of Colleen Atwood’s dresses a mile off!

Me: I was just about to say Colleen Atwood! Because, honestly, she must put her diamond pleats on every dress.

Jema: She’s very distinctive! And part of what makes her distinctive is the collaborations she’s had with people. You know, she’s done the Lemony Snickett films…
One of Hewitt's most popular designs

Me: Violet’s dress was incredible. The box pleats on the bottom of the skirt…

Jema: Beautiful! But it’s fantasy fairy-tale, it was totally perfect. I mean, her work with Tim Burton, you know… her dresses look like they’ve been designed by Tim Burton: even when they haven’t been designed by Burton, they look like they have. It’s obvious that they would want to hit it off and design [together].

Me: But she could only have her style that much her style by working with Tim Burton, couldn’t she? I mean, if she was working with someone else, to begin with, it would’ve taken a long time for her to get those diamond pleats in.

Jema: Oh, definitely. You know, you get it in, in little subtle ways, but perhaps you’re not quite allowed so much mad reign. And budget is always an issue as well. If you’re working on a very small, independent film, you might not have the money to spend on making a fabulous dress with loads of different layers and intricate detailing. 
That’s one reason I side-stepped into wedding dresses, to be honest, because it does enable me to do dream things, rather than just getting another pair of blue jeans and a pair of scuffy trainers, and, “oh great, we need fourteen anoraks”!

Me: I completely understand…

Jema: It gets a bit dull. Fine, someone’s got to do it, but I’m a designer, and I’m someone who’s very creative. I needed to have beautiful fabrics, and amazing, fantastical corsets and things around me.

 I love to make things as well, so I like to be in on every single little process – I like to be doing the dying, I like to be sewing the beads on… Once you start doing enormous things, you become a factory owner, and you’re in charge of management, and that’s great, but it’s a whole different job, and I’m quite an obsessive. I quite enjoy seeing one thing come together from initial [drawings] all the way up.

Me: You get orders from around the world...
Jema: Oh yes. I’m working for a bride in Poland at the moment, who flew in a couple of weeks ago.

Me: So, we were talking earlier about how places abroad are more helpful to Costumers, but with your business, you’re fine because of the Internet. People come to you – you don’t have to go abroad.
Jema: Oh, definitely. I’ve heard that Britain is a lot more Cosmopolitan than a lot of places in Europe. People come to me because they can’t get things in Europe.
But again, it’s a different type of business to big film costume departments. I love what I do, it gives me an enormous amount of independence. Being a freelancer, it allows me to pick and choose what I want to do. But it’s also exhausting. I have a lot of responsibilities, and I’m constantly juggling four or five different projects – making a wedding dress, giving a lecture, designing for something… and that can be almost as stressful as designing for one big thing. 

Hewitt's 'Steampunk Absinthe Fairy' gown.
Me: You do give classes now. Is it something you’ve had to do recently, or was it a choice?

Jema: I decided to. I got asked by a couple of the Universities to go and teach their fashion students how to do corsets, that was the start of it. 
I really like passing on skills and knowledge. I’ve always been that way. I hate it when places and people are really mealy-mouthed about where they’ve got things or how to do something. I came across a lot of that when I was starting out my career. People just wouldn’t tell me how to do something, or where they’d got something, and I found it really frustrating and rather rude. So I decided I really wasn’t going to be like that.

I started offering weekend workshops, and I just got trampled in the rush, really! People didn’t want to go on a college course, or do things every Tuesday afternoon. I just expanded it as people kind of went “aw, I really love your top hat, can you show me how to do top hats?” Yeah, great, I’ll do a top hat weekend, then! ...We always have fun.

  Me: Any last words [of advice] before I stop the recording?

Jema: Don’t expect to earn much money! 


   Two years on from that interview, Jema Hewitt's still working, and still making fabulous dresses. It amazes me that she doesn't get more job offers in the industry (Colleen Atwood, if you're reading this, she would be the perfect assistant for you), but Hewitt's business is an established, lasting, quality thing which can only be applauded. 

Having worked in the industry myself now, I've had first-hand experience of the business of it, and particularly the harsh reality for those working on independent films. But I'm certainly grateful to Hewitt for having given me the heads up in advance!

What's more, she's still the queen of the Big Dresses in the Midlands. None of mine have even come close in size. Yet...

Hewitt in one of her recent creations, an Art Nouveau-inspired peacock feather bustle gown.

   If you want to learn more about Jema Hewitt (and I certainly advise that you do), you can check out her website:

Or, if you want to own one of her wonderful creations, then check out her Etsy store:

Right, that's all for now guys. I hope you've enjoyed the change from the usual blog posts. I'll be back next time with more updates from my own work.

Sophie x

Monday, 7 May 2012

Sophie On: The Latest Video Diary, and Public Donations

Hey guys,

   I've finished filming my latest video diary - the 'Spring Update' - and, once I'd sorted a little techinical hitch with the sound, it has been successfully uploaded onto Youtube.

   Although it was a fun video to make this time round (I got to talk about making Stop/Eject, getting onto IMDB, and working with Georgina Sherrington, plus I was able to share some fun  behind-the-scenes videos I'd captured along the way), it was also a difficult one to shoot, for reasons which will become obvious when you watch it.

   A lot of people have been asking me "how did the Ashes shoot go?", and I haven't responded to any of them, only promising that I would talk about it in this diary. Because the truth is that we didn't film it. There was a last minute cancellation with the location (I'd had to drop my original, ideal location because we didn't raise enough money to afford it. The location which pulled out was one which I had bagged for free a week before). The news was very upsetting for me and I'd been embarassed to tell people but I suppose anyone who's seen this video will know now!

   What the video doesn't tell you, however, is that the news of the location drop-out came with a double whammy of bad timing. Not only was it the day before Ashes was supposed to start, but it was also my Birthday! I was going to keep my Birthday under-wraps this year because it was the only time we could fit in the Ashes shoot, due to everyone's availability, but the loss of the shoot hurt twice as much for that reason. I didn't have a film, and I didn't have any birthday plans to fall back on, so I just stayed in and cleaned the house.

   But, of course, we must remember that there are many worse things in the world than rubbish Birthdays and losing films (although try telling that to Peter Jackson the first time the studios dropped King Kong). I will get another chance at a good Birthday next year, and - hopefully - another chance at Ashes soon.

   And I had a few things to cheer me up on my Birthday. I got to see my family - which I wouldn't have done if I'd been on set - and I got to see one of my old University pals who I usually only see when I go down to London. Plus I had the most BEAUTIFUL roses hand-delivered to me, as arranged by the principle Stop/Eject crew, and I had a lovely little card from the cast as well:

   So my Birthday wasn't a complete disaster. What I was more afraid of, however, was the response from the Ashes cast and crew. We'd been working on the project since late 2011 and had to change the date of the shoot once already because of people's availability. People had even worked hard to book the time off work - again - and there's only so many times you can mess people around. I'd finally got everything sorted and ready to go - or so I thought - and sorted all the last minute crew drop-outs, just in time for it to blow up in everyone's face again. It took me three hours between finding out the news of the location cancelation and telling the cast and crew about it, purely because I was dreading what they would say.

   I needn't have worried. I have the most amazing, understanding, dedicated cast and crew. Rather than being angry at me for losing the shoot/constantly changing dates, everyone was just really gutted that we weren't filming, and they all sent me kind condollences too. What's more, everyone's still really keen to make the film, even those with smaller roles (like our Production Assistant Ellie Ragdale). They raised my spirits, and now I want to keep going too.

Update: For those of you who were curious, this is what the back-up location looked like, and where we would've filmed if it weren't for them pulling out the day before the shoot.

   Public support has been pretty great too. I only put the video up last night, and already people have asked me how much more we need to get the film back on track (£500 will pay for my ideal location and guarantee it won't pull out last minute), and how they could donate.

   So, for those of you who are interested, you can donate straight to my account by clicking on the paypal button below. Please comment below to say who you are and how much you donated, and I'll be sure to give you public shout-outs on Facebook and Twitter. Plus I'll be sure to send you a flyer-sized poster and a copy of the film (ranging from a digital copy to a special edition DVD, depending on how much you donate.

   So, once again, thankyou to everybody for their support and for believing in me. Ashes will happen, no matter what it takes. And what's more, I feel very, very loved.

Sophie  x