We’re shooting Jadoo on film. To make a film-film you need people who love 35mm Eastman Kodak negative.
Roger Pratt BSC, our Oscar-nominated Cinematographer, wears a badge on his lapel that states, “Film Forever”. He truly understands film and all its extraordinary qualities having shot, in no particular order: Brazil, Mona Lisa, Tim Burton’s Batman, The Fisher King, Shadowlands, Twelve Monkeys, Chocolat, Iris, The End of the Affair…
(It’s odd writing a list of films and knowing with some certainty that, if you’re a film buff, at least one of your top-ten-best-looking-films-of-all-time is on that roster.)
But Roger is also modest enough to tell you that to capture the light that he designs with such aplomb you need a team that includes:
A Camera Operator – we have Rob Hart, a physically powerful young man who can frame a shot on a conventional head and move a Steadicam with equally sensitive ease.
A Focus Puller – a role that requires a bewildering mixture of mathematical precision, obsessive measuring and – if we’re honest – a dab of magic to make sure every actor’s nuanced look is pin-sharp. Sam Renton’s got the fingers, as they say.
An Electrical Team – whose role it is to make Roger’s lighting plans a reality: hoisting lamps, clipping on gels, flagging-off recalcitrant beams whilst making everything safe for cast, crew and Joe Public. Our team – and we are still pinching ourselves – is lead by Gaffer, Tommy Finch and his brother, Rigging Gaffer, Chuck Finch. Listing their credits would double the length of this Blog but suffice it to say, in 2006 Chuck won a BAFTA for his lifetime achievements in film industry. It really is worth typing their names into IMdb and letting your jaw fall open.
Right behind the Gaffers are Paul McDermott, Steven Wood and Ben Coldwell; constantly of the move, two-steps ahead, making this set tidy and then next ready to shoot.
Steve Weightman, our Grip, moves the camera with real grace. Tommy Holman, our Clapper Loader, is always there with the next lens, the fresh film mag, the chalk… almost before they’re requested. The whole team ably serviced by the indefatigable Harry Gamble, our Camera Assistant and Ken Price, the Camera Car driver.
Every day Tommy Holman calmly accepts his unique, terrifying responsibility – even though he’s one of the youngest members of the unit – and unloads the negative that’s captured all Roger’s beautiful light into thin-metals cans before despatching them to Technicolor to be stuck-fast forever. Six days a week, for five weeks. No pressure.
And every night Amit Gupta, the writer/director, sits with Roger and the team watching the rushes; giggling like schoolboys at the dialogue, making mental notes about actors’ best angles and marvelling at the beauty of 35mm film.