9 Days to Go... Ashes Behind the Scenes

Hey Everybody,

   Nine days left until the shoot. That's so crazy, and I still have a fairly big to-do list, but I've promised you all a blog post a day and if I say I'm going to do something, then I'm darn well going to do it!

Lacklustre BTS footage from The Opening Night
   I love behind-the-scenes or making-of documentaries. The plethora of wonderful bonus features on The Lord of the Rings have been inspiring filmmakers for over a decade, almost as much as the films themselves, and there are certain DVDs (such as The Golden Compass) where I didn't rate the film but bought it anyway to get a glimpse into the costume departments.

     And I'm not the only one who cares about bonus features; Going to Hell: The Making of Soul Searcher was almost as long as Neil Oseman's feature itself, and its brave decision to show everything that went into production - right down to the nitty gritty - got it onto Raindance's list of top making-of documentaries.

   When I made The Opening Night, my last directorial short, I got some behind-the-scenes footage -  mostly of rehearsals and b-rolls of clapperboards - which I edited into a little film as a thankyou for the crew. But I always regretted not capturing more of the hard work that went into it. Now, at a place in my career where promotion and marketing is perhaps more important than creativity (sadly), I would be a bit of an idiot if I didn't make sure to get plenty of behind-the-scenes footage from Ashes.

   Regular followers of my Youtube channel will know that I've been covering the pre-production of Ashes in my video diaries, during which I talk about the progress and show a few photographs, but it wouldn't be enough to make a bonus feature on a DVD. I need someone to make a proper documentary - even if it's just compiling scraps of behind-the-scenes and stolen interviews from the set - and for that task, I have employed Lara Elliot.

Lara Elliot
   I met Lara - a Manchester Met graduate - through creative networking (and with thanks to photographer Holly Booth for introducing us), and we discovered a mutual love of film. We both cared about portraying people, although I tend to do that through fiction and Lara through documentary. We both attended 5Lamps Films nights, one which screened the only documentary I've made (Margaret, a collaboration with Danielle Hailstones and Paolo Alemanni), and that went down pretty well with Lara. When she showed an interest in supporting Ashes - originally as a funder - I knew that she would be the perfect person to tackle the behind-the-scenes documentary.

   As well as enjoying my work, Lara accepted the job because the subject nature of Ashes was something she feels should be addressed in film. "I don't think that rape and sexual abuse are taken seriously enough by a lot of people; especially when they occur within the context of a relationship. There's still an attitude out there that there is some kind of distinction between being violated by a stranger and being violated by a partner and there isn't, it's something I feel extremely strongly about. 

    "I was also disappointed to see Sophie struggle to get funding for the film, I think it's quite a brave film so I'm keen to support it."

Photograph of Lara Elliot by Dan Wheeler, 2012

     Due to the rescheduling of the shoot, Lara won't actually be on set with us, but all the footage captured will be sent to her (along with the interviews she'll shoot) and edited into a behind-the-scenes documentary. This will be premiered in part on the Hatch'd Magazine website, a hub for all derbyshire creatives which Lara helps to run.

   Lara hopes, as we all do, that Ashes will be well received by our audience. "I hope people remain open minded and don't shy away from the subject matter, however controversial and difficult to approach. I'll be looking out for the way the visual style represents the shift in Sarah's emotions. I'll also be paying attention to the cinematography, because judging by the trailer it's going to look lovely!"

   I'm keen to see what Lara will make for us. Due to her love of vintage cameras and beautiful filmmaking, I'm expecting that the documentary will be as creative and lovingly crafted as the film that it represents.

   Check back tomorrow for a profile on the Ashes designer, Gina Hames, and an exclusive look at the set's progress!

Sophie x


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