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Last Updated: Friday, 21 November, 2003, 10:00 GMT
Director's diary: Month Two
Documentary film-maker Shreepali Patel is spending six months shadowing Roger Michell as he directs a film version of Enduring Love.

The scheme is part of Women in Film and Television's Directing Change programme, and organised in association with UIP, to increase the numbers of women in feature film making.

She will write a monthly diary of her involvement on the production.


Month Two

October 2003

Week One
Patel (centre) watches rushes with Roger Michell (left)
The film is based on an Ian McEwan novel
Still chasing myself a little, moving from Cardiff to London, from project to project, home to home, emotion to emotion.

As I return back to the Chilterns for the second week of filming, the blue skies that blessed the first week of filming have finally given way to rain.

Shorts, sun-tan lotion and t-shirts have given way to wet weather gear. The sun finally comes back out but accompanied by a bitter autumn wind.

Stunts and balloon flights are carefully co-ordinated and filmed under the watchful eye of 50 or more "stunt sheep" quite ignorant of their starring role in the film.

Daniel Craig, who plays Joe, and Rhys Ifans, who plays Jed, sit buried, huddled in their coats waiting to shoot as the sheep chew the grass around them.

Lee, the stunt man, lies buried waist deep in the side of the hill as his dead and mangled body is painted and made over by make-up and prosthetics. The finishing touches added as "stunt flies" are gently warmed and brought back from cryogenic slumber for their starring role next to the dead hero.

Surreal doesn't even begin to describe it.

Week Two

The filming moves back down to London and into studio at Three Mills.

For me personally, it turns out to be a bit of a shock to the senses after the previous two weeks in the open fields of the Chilterns. As the studio doors shut and the red light goes on, everything seems to close in. And I begin to witness the different worlds that can be created within four walls.

As the production weeks pass by - I slowly begin to understand how each department works - individually and together.

The crew of set designers, props, lights, camera operators, focus-pullers, loaders, continuity, make-up, costumes, grips, riggers, the runners, location assistants, the assistant directors - each putting another piece of the jigsaw puzzle together for the film.

In Three Mills, they created a frenzied home of breakfasts, dinners, haven's for desolate characters. They became cloud busters, creating and controlling the weather - from dawn breaking, to sunshine, rain and finally night time. And within these worlds came the actors.

Each with their own personalities, each with their own way of creating the characters they portrayed. Some shared their thoughts on acting and their relationship with the director. And what came out quite clearly was the respect they had for Roger Michell and the respect he showed them.

Week Three

Back out on location after Three Mills. On Monday we were in a wonderful bookshop tucked away in Bloomsbury.

Every so often there have been visitors on set; today it was Liz Hoggard from The Observer, she is covering the Directing Change scheme as part of a larger article on female directors in the film industry.

I felt slightly nervous, I think understandably. It seemed to me that for Roger, it was an apparently seamless transition from finishing a take to being photographed for the broadsheet.

The rest of the week was spent filming at various locations around London. These included a North London swimming pool to film underwater sequences - this was something I had been looking forward to for a long time.

As a diver, I had always loved the perspective and feel of being underwater - almost like being an astronaut. I left set early that week as I had to return to Cardiff - I did so reluctantly as this world was drawing me in.

Week Four

I drove back from Cardiff on Monday - after days of writing up proposals and commissions.

I'm still disorientated. Roger had a day of interviews to promote his last film, The Mother, to be released in a month.

I joined him half way through the day as Liz Hoggard returned to interview both of us away from the set.

Though I was still nervous about being on the other side of the microphone, this was for me, valuable time with Roger, to sit back and reflect back on the learning process, its aims and objectives.

The next few days were spent filming in Hampstead Heath. The end of the week relocating to a disused warehouse in Dalston. There seemed to be a strange juxtaposition as outside, the warehouse, a market glistened with fish, fruit and vegetables - all sold with the strongest East London accents.

But inside, another pivotal sequence of the film, the physical destruction of a carefully designed set, was being captured on film.


SEE ALSO:
Director's diary: Shreepali Patel
30 Oct 03  |  Entertainment
Boost for women film-makers
07 May 03  |  Entertainment
Women directors fight back
08 Nov 02  |  Entertainment


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