Monday, July 05, 2004

The Continuing Saga of a Young Man's Adventures in Bollywood.

I've lost track of what day it is. I believe people when they tell me it's Monday, but have no real sense of it. Apart from my continuing attempts to keep my conciousness where I want it to be, the film, and indeed the next film in the pipeline have become my dominant concerns - matters of time and place have become distinctly secondary.

First the documentary - this is going well - interviews in the can (ok, ok, on the tape) with Soni Razdan (who's flown back to India to start directing her first movie), Caroline Chikizie (of As If and Footballers Wives fame), and Karen David, who as well being in the new Batman movie, appears to be big in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. I've also done a few little pieces to camera with some of the crew, and an extensive interview with Roddy Matthews, the composer, about the process of writing the songs and incidental music for the film, which was fascinating for me - I'm thinking about campaigning for a little "how the music was done" featurette on the dvd. Tomorrow I'm interviewing Charlie Brooks, and the guys in the film as a group. The footage is being well received, and by the end of the process I will have shot more than 15 hours, so there should be plenty of stuff to turn into a "proper" documentary.

Ok - on to the film. Well, apart from the fact that behind the scenes, the organisation remains in complete chaos, we're almost bang on schedule and there's a really fantastic vibe on set. The actors have really brought the piece to light, and the director, Baz Taylor, has allowed them to improvise, and really play the comedy. As the script, written by Farrukh Dhondy was really strong in the first place, this is leading to some great stuff appearing on screen. The Indian and Western crews have started to develop a mutual respect. At the beginning of the shoot, there was a bit of a sense of "our way is best" from both sides, but that's eased a great deal, and now there is a tangible sense of coming together - I hope I can bring this out in the documentary, as I think that will really be what makes it strong.

One of the most memorable characters in the crew is the Unit Manager, Grover. He is know as either GroverJi, or Mr Grover, but his name appears on all the call sheets simply as "Grover." So it might say First AD: John Smith, Production Supervisor: Deepak Singh, Unit Manager: Grover. Like Cher, Madonna and Pele, he's transcended surname. He is the guy who's got the cash, and controls it with two main tactics - one is the left to right movement of the head which might mean, "sure, of course you can have this £10 for photocopying", but equally might mean "Do we really need to photocopy this? Can't we get someone to write it out?" (Hand written copies of script pages have been floating around today, written out by the continuity person, and dubbed Mumbai Photocopies...) His other method is simply not to be there when someone wants money, which he used a lot at the beginning of the shoot, leading to the early nickname of the disappearing man. He is also a really nice guy, and very funny. I particularly like him, as he's funny on camera, and sings at me quite often. Today he put an end to a fairly major incident when a very angry and drunk man came into the set and started threatening Phil the Grip (who has also transcended the surname, but his has been replaced with a job title). The drunk man was pacified by Mr Grover putting his finger up at him whilst walking away from him at a fairly high speed.

I spent much of today in "the office" which is what my dad, Baz the director, and Peter Joyce, the designer call whatever pub is nearest to the location. Much of it was spent in a rather volatile script meeting about one of the upcoming projects. On the strength of my contribution to the discussions, the director offered me the job as third ad on the picture. When I said I wasn't sure I wanted it, he said "how about 2nd?" It's nice to be offered jobs, even if they aren't quite the right ones. It's still something to think about.

Best wishes all, and see the folks at home soon,