Songbird: An Insider's Perspective

Giller leading the team on the
warmest day of the shoot
   There is a crew member that's right down the bottom of the hierarchy ladder, but more valuable than most. They're always waiting in the wings, never in the way, but always there whenever you need them. They'll never be nominated for an OSCAR, but they need to have a wider range of skills than anyone else. That person is your production assistant - and the best production assistant I know is Steve Giller.

   Production assistants rarely get a voice, but they are a friend to everyone, they're on set every day, and they see literally everything - the good and the bad. So I thought it would be interesting to look at our latest production, Songbird, from Steve's perspective - and to share the personal photographs he took on his phone throughout the shoot. It's an insight into the crew and our Songbird 'life' that no-one else would've seen, and it's certainly not a view we would've requested to be captured by our professional photographers! If anyone's ever wondered what it's really like to be on a film shoot, this is probably the most realistic taster you'll get...

[The line-up on day one! We obviously weren't prepared for this photo, but I love it because it captures the genuine joy and excitement we had to be making the film - particularly early on.]

   "Working on films is something I stumbled into when I got the chance to be a zombie (who wouldn't say yes to that?), and being around people who were so passionate and dedicated about what they do got me totally hooked," says Giller. "The best thing for me about the shoot was the camaraderie and professionalism." 

[Another sneaky photo that captures so much. AD Liam Banks is prepping the background actors whilst DP Chris Newman and I are having a hug. I can't remember why exactly - I'm quite a huggy director generally - but we got some beautiful footage that day, so we're probably just excited about that!]

[Speaking of background actors, here's another side of film production people rarely see - all of our supporting cast had to wait very patiently off set (and in this case, in the hot sunshine) while waiting for their scenes. What a brilliant bunch!]

[Lying on the floor photo #1: Camera operator Dave Mullany & DP Chris Newman (of Motion Click Productions) will literally go to any angle to get the perfect shot - and I always tried to be right there with them!]

[How the 'voice stealing' scene was shot: in a real alleyway, all squished in together, fighting against the dying light. We didn't built any sets on this film - we just used the beautiful locations the Midlands had to offer.]

   Giller continues, "Songbird was the most fun I've had to date by far, partly because in addition to my normal duties I got to drive the star around! I was a bit nervous about that, as you can probably imagine, but Janet (Devlin) was really lovely; friendly, open, and easy to talk to, as well as very professional - when she wasn't working hard on the film she was keeping up with her commitments to her fans on social media. And she wasn't afraid to get her hands dirty, as you can see in the film's trailer!"

[Left: Janet, working hard in-between takes and chatting to her fans. Right: DP Chris, stealing her board later on in the day to ask for help in carrying the kit inside. Giller, where were you when he needed you??]

      On what it was like to 'live' Songbird for a week, Giller said this: "The food was great! We even got to sleep in a cabin on location in preparation for the now legendary Scene 17.
Despite the weather ranging from blisteringly hot on the first couple of days to torrential downpours on the last, the cast and crew kept each others' spirits high, and no-one hesitated to muck in where additional help was needed to overcome the difficult conditions."

[The team literally lived in the woods for two days and two nights. The landscape was our film set, and the trees were our furniture!]

[The log is ready for its close-up! This shot may look strange here, but it will make perfect sense when you see the film.]

[Lying on the floor photos #2 & #3: Sometimes the crew would offer to stand in for Janet, when she was getting her makeup done, or when we wanted to keep her out of the rain for as long as possible! This was done for the sake of the camera team, so that they could line up the shot ready for Janet's return. In these photos you can see myself and AD Charlie Clarke standing in - but I appear to be having a better time!]

Giller took so many photos of a hard-working but fun-loving team, so it was hard to decide what to share with you guys. We all have some incredible memories, and so some of those photos will be retained for the crew, to help enhance and strengthen those memories for years to come. In closing, the wonderful Giller had this to say (and I swear I didn't pay him to say it):

"Having seen how beautiful the shots looked played back on the small screen of the camera, I'm so excited to see the finished product on the big screen, it's going to look fantastic."

[The final battle. We literally filled the forest with smoke on the last shooting day, although the unexpectedly terrible weather meant that it didn't linger on camera for very long. And the man responsible for firing up the generator and spreading the smoke? That was Giller, of course!]

This special blog post was released as a public reward, as part of our Livetree funding campaign. Please help support our post-production and inject a boost into the film's festival run by donating now. You can even pre-order a copy of the film itself, if you want to see the fruits of all our labours!



  1. Great insight. It looks as though even the wet day was fun. Makes me want to get back on screen again.


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