Wednesday 24 June 2009

Shop Girl: Take 1, Camera, Action!

“How much do you want this?” my brother had asked me, back in September.
“More than anything.”
And he’d rolled up his sleeves and launched into a speech on how to promote my blog.
I took his advice and one quiet day from behind the counter, I started leaving my link on internet sites, including SE1, a local forum.
Chloe Thomas, a TV director and producer, mailed me a few days later.
My blog had got her thinking.
She asked me if I fancied a cup of tea.
I did.
We had two beers and Chloe set out her vision and asked me to turn the blog into a screenplay.
And so began the Shop Girl Blog film project.
I’d never written a script before.
The date earned gold stars by giving me a master class. He gave me the screenplay of The Usual Suspects to follow as we watched it on the telly. He explained what should be included and what could be left out. He also gave me a script-writing template. If he hadn’t done that I’d still be back-spacing or trying to centre the dialogue for the first few lines.
Draft 1 followed.
Then 2, 3, 4, 5, 6....
7, 8, 9, 10
11, 12
And lucky 13.
Chloe roped in all her contacts and Cassandra King organised the casting.
I’d never been to a casting. It was a bit like being in the shop; lots of random people coming in and talking to you without buying anything.
But I was touched so many people turned up to the audition.
After the first day of casting I went to see the date feeling emotional.
It didn’t help that I hadn’t eaten lunch.
“Some of them came from such a long way,” I sobbed.
“That’s what actors do darr-ling."
“They ju-uh, ju-uh, ju-uh...”
“Are you okay?”
“They ju-uh came to read Shop Girl.”
“That’s a good thing darr-ling.”
On the second day of casting I made sure I’d eaten before.
This time I left the studio happy and excited. We’d found our cast.
Meetings followed; the shop was blitzed.
On Friday, we opened up at 6.30 am, which was quite something for our shop.
Four hours earlier Petra, who’d undertaken to be the entire Art Department, had been ironing costumes while Mum and I had cleared up.
And so it began.
The camera crew arrived with all their equipment.
The date arrived to do sound with the boom operator.
“Have you said hello to yourself yet?” he asked.
I looked over at Shop Girl and suddenly felt shy.
It wasn’t weird having someone play me as everyone thought it might be. It was only weird when I had to show her how to pin crystal.
“I could get into this,” she said, “come on Emily, I can help, give me stuff to do.”
Her pinning wasn’t bad but she wasn’t fussy about what she pinned to what. That said, a bit more training and I’d happily leave her in the shop while I go on holiday.
I never realised how intense filming is, how many takes are taken and angles covered. I sympathised with Natalie, in charge of continuity, since we were moving lights all the time to accommodate the camera and boom.
In spite of the notice that had been on the door for days, a few regulars did turn up. Veronica came in hoping to sell some more second hand jewellery.
“Sorry, we’re closed for filming,” I told her.
She looked irritated, “Well how long are you going to be? I’ve got this bracelet here...”
“Two days.”
Later she caught Mum and pushed a denim jacket into her hands.
“You can pay me next week if you like it,” she said.
Connie called in too.
“What are they filming for?”
“I’m not sure.”
“What do you mean you’re not sure?”
“Some advert, I think.”
It’d been ambitious to film the script in two days but the crew and cast managed to pull it off, stepping over the anticipated filming time by only 1 hour.
For those two intense days of filming it felt like my shop was its own universe and everything in it mattered.
It was an amazing feeling to be part of the crew and I can’t wait to share it with all you Shop Girl readers.
Thanks from the heart to all those who made it happen and for all those that are reading:

And now for the credits:

Executive Producers – Damon Beesley and Iain Morris
Head of Production and Catering – Leo Martin
Director / Producer – Chloe Thomas
Producer – John Kennedy
Writer – Emily Benet
Editor – Mick Johnson
Production Designer – Piera Lizzeri
1st Assistant Director – Christine Luby
2nd Assistant Director – Rhianna Andrews
Driver/ Runner – Colin Phillips
Director of Photography – Justin Evans
1st Camera Assistant – Dan West
2nd Camera Assistant – Tom Williams
Sound Recordist (day 1) – Juan Diego Sánchez
Boom Operator – Laura Fairbanks
Sound Recordist (day 2) – Richard Munns
Boom Operator – Raul Dias
Casting Director – Cassandra King
Script Supervisor – Natalie Scicluna
Costume Designer – Piera Lizzeri
Costume Assistant – Claire Wardoper
Make-up & Hair Designer - Emma Maris
Make-up & Hair Designer – Jennifer Nash

And thanks to all the actors –

Shop Girl – Katy Wix
Mum – Annette Badland
Ali – Davood Ghadami
Rose – Leila Hoffman
Mr Roberts – Rhod Culbertson
Danny – Blake Harrison
Guardian Seller - Kourush Mavaei
Belle – Lou Conran
Raf – Paul Sharma
Lucus – Jeff Leach
Postman - Dave Shelley

And a massive thanks to my wonderful family for all their love and support -

Mum – Jill Benet
Papa – Antonio Benet
My Brother – Oriol Benet
My Auntie – Keri Hacker


The Date said...

Oh no! my secret identity has been revealed! Autographs only on Fridays, please

Petra said...

unlike the date i think i'm safe from publicity. well done hon xxxx kangaroos away!!

T & A said...

Thats so exciting :)
When do we get to see it???

Jeff Leach said...

It was my pleasure to be involved. I'm glad it all went so smoothly and I cannot wait to see the end result at the wrap party! I'll be reading this blog regularly now Miss.B, would you do the same for me?