Journals of Erwich: Preproduction

In these articles, I will be exploring the stages of constructing Journals of Erwich, my final University project. If you haven’t seen it, check out the film below:

 

Although it was not strictly necessary to progress with writing, a core crew was assembled immediately. In part, this was a result of my familiarity and comfort in working with these specific individuals, however having a group of individuals to offer critique and commentary as I developed the idea was beneficial. The crew was as follows:

Joseph Aldous (Myself): Writer/Director

Daniel West: Assistant Writer/Assistant Director

Sarah Aitken: Producer

Joshua Butcher: Director of Photography

Andy Smith: Director of Photography

Daniel Thompson: Sound Design

Matthew Johnston: Editor

Group

As we began preproduction for the project at the start of June 2012, I was able to dedicate a comfortable amount of time towards developing both the narrative treatment and character profiles and backstories required to begin writing. With this extra time in mind, the period between June and the end of September was largely spent refining the script through the process of peer feedback, redrafting and repeating. While this period was specifically focused on writing, it is a routine I would continue up until the production process, as the complex nature of the fantasy genre could not be overlooked. A new draft based on suggestions and feedback was produced on a bimonthly basis. This would ensure that the script would be as developed as possible for further review from external parties (including Human Traffic director, Justin Kerrigan).

Journals of Erwich is a ten-minute short film, serving as an introduction to a wider world of conquest and wartime. A time in which bitter disputes between three, once great, kingdoms plague a ravaged world. Now, 100 years on from the signing of a peace treaty, events are in motion for a time of newfound conflict and suffering. Although a film that stands alone, it is a prologue to a feature film based in the same fantasy world, following on from the events of this short.

Journals of Erwich is a fantasy story centred on people, and the way in which it is structured is to push these characters to the very forefront of the film, ensuring that their motivations remained clear. This is something that took a while to achieve, but be it through purposeful camera movement, sound motifs, or through the editing style, its tone is dark, but compelling, as it builds up a certain level of anticipation and suspense.

With story development in place, the next step would be to find a location. Initially, a budget of £20,000 was estimated, and the location of choice was Austria, so a self-funded recce to the region of Tyrol was carried out. Although Austria seemed like the ideal location, several contingency plans (including Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire and Goliatha Falls, Bodmin) were also put in place in case the appropriate budget was not raised. Raising this budget was not going to be a small feat, so the period preceding the holiday period was spent accumulating as much content as we could for both promotional purposes, as well as content to ensure that the project would pass the green light process.

Rasthaus Zugspitzblick - Near Insbruk

Throughout the months proceeding, therefore, I communicated my original ideas for music, costumes, storyboards and everything in between to the relevant parties. Primarily, this period was aimed at readying everyone in advance for his or her delegated tasks, but I encouraged them to get started as soon as possible to ensure we could try a variety of alternatives. Alongside Daniel West, I produced mood boards as a guidance tool, and these would be developed accordingly to move the process forwards.

All of these elements were cultivated for the green light process, and the success of this process assured us that we would be equally as prepared for fundraising. A crowd fundraising campaign was launched on Indiegogo, with the aforementioned content serving as the backbone to our campaign. Unfortunately, the campaign was unsuccessful, writing off Austria as a viable location, and so we needed to explore our contingency plans further.

The first alternative location we looked at was the Forest of Dean, however its identity as a tourist hotspot meant that it would be unsuitable for filming. Still adamant about filming outside of Cornwall, we also scouted the New Forest, Hampshire. The location was more suitable, but as it is often used as a camping destination for family holidays it was still not ideal. Traveling as far as Hampshire was neither economic, nor practical and the location was dismissed. Finding a location had proven to be time consuming and extremely difficult, so we decided we would aim more locally for the shoot. We went on a location scout to St. Clements, Truro, and found the location to suit our needs, so secured permissions and scheduled to film there the week commencing March 28th.

Meanwhile, the casting process was in full swing, and first auditions were held on February 28th. Despite receiving a total of 94 applications, a small percentage actually attended the event. We were able to cast Benjamin as Phaedrus in the first session, and Olive was cast as Chrysanthe in the following round of auditions, however, we were initially without a Euripides. Fortunately, Richard (who had originally just been recruited to choreograph and teach the climactic fight sequence) volunteered for the role and, as he understood the role of Euripides perfectly, was more than suitable for the role.

With all three roles cast, all that remained was to rehearse the script. All three actors came in for daily rehearsal sessions led by Daniel West and I, in which the final touches to dialogue were made and any issues regarding the performances were confronted. Once this matter had been addressed, it was time to start filming…

– Joe Aldous

joe sketch3

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