I got a bit of a pre-Christmas gift in my inbox today when Mark Brocking, the writer and director of The Double Cross, finally sent a link to the movie. Shot on 16mm black and white film, it is a throwback to slapstick comedies of Harold Lloyd and Buster Keaton.
I’ve always been someone whose arm is easily twisted to help out on a project – in fact, I’ve probably done as much pro bono work as paid work. Money aside, whether it’s to gain experience or to expand your contacts list or to kill time or to feed a compulsion, there are many merits in helping others out, and I certainly don’t want to talk people out of helping out others, but The Double Cross was the straw that broke this freelancer’s back.
We filmed in early 2012 when I was relatively new to London. Having only one other local production under my belt – as AD on a doomed short action series called Making Sparks – I was eager to find something new, fun and interesting to sink my teeth into and to expand my network.
I’d met with Mark in a cafe in Soho where he pitched me the script. He was a professional with a long history in post production and VFX work and the movie was going to be funded out of pocket. It’s London, I’m married and I have bills to pay, and I’m inching closer and closer to my mid-30s, so I’m not really in the best position to be starting afresh in a new market. Nor can I afford to work for free, but Mark was a nice guy, I really enjoyed the premise, and the story is obviously something different that you don’t see everyday, so I agreed to come on board as 1st AD.
I should have seen the red flags and walked away early, but I had committed to it and it was only a couple of weeks of prep and two weekends of my time – what could possibly go wrong?
Well, for starters, Mark was a first time director, filming took place in his own house with two small children, and the cast and crew was mostly made up of theatre folk or amateurs*. (This, and the lack of a production manager, might help explain how I ended up with a producer credit…) Also, the buffoon in charge of continuity had never seen a screenplay before and can now be found roaming around Shooting People events claiming to be a producer (and asking DOPs what it is they do on set.)
We ended up shooting 260+ slates over 4 days, and the only saving grace was that we recorded without sound, and the catering was tasty.
As lovely and talented as everyone involved was, the production just about drove me insane. It certainly fuelled my caffeine addiction, and it made my decision to retire from freelance life that much more easy to make. But we survived, and two years later it’s finally finished. It’s been submitted to a number of festivals and has won an award or two, which always looks good on the CV I guess. I’m really happy with how it turned out, and glad to finally be able to put it out there to be seen, and to vent a little bit about it.
After we wrapped, I decided to find a steady day-job outside the film industry so I could focus on developing my own projects which have lingered for far too long. Since that day, I’ve finished The Buskers + Lou, I’ve completed two feature scripts and a few short ones, and I’ve been working on setting up Indieground – we’ll have a thoroughly overhauled website launched in the near future, with all our available kit for hire, our co-production and DIY services laid out, and a calendar of events for all of you networkers to come meet up and chat. So in the end I can only thank Double Cross for helping me realise what I want to focus my time and efforts on. Also, to be fair, when we had fun it was definitely an enjoyable and memorable experience.
Anyway – hope you enjoy the movie, and that all the blood, sweat and tears that went into making it is worth it. Cheers!
* I would like to point out the camera and lighting crews were top notch professionals. Those guys rolled with the punches as well as any I’ve worked with.
(All photos by Patrick Moore.)