Pre-production and Script Development

I joined this group after being impressed by the creativity in their taster film although I knew there was a lot more development needed to make it into a successful final project.

There was some indecision in the script development phase, amplified by the fact that our group had two writers with quite different ideas. As the producer, I had to facilitate these discussions and I think the three of us worked well to compromise and reach a script with a strong narrative which was true to the tone of the taster film. I also had to keep the writer to schedule as they were both also working on fourth year films which took up a lot of their time. While the script was still being redrafted, it caused quite a lot of uncertainty about which locations and actors we would need. While this posed some challenges (see below), I think we were able to minimise this impact by coming to a decision as quickly as possible and sticking to it.

One of the main challenges of this film was accessing locations. Initially, the film was to be set in a car park, a doctor’s waiting room and a consultation room. I spoke to several local surgeries, some of whom were keen to be involved, and found a few waiting rooms and consultation rooms that would have worked.

Joe and I also did a recce at the Napier University medical training facilities at Sighthill Campus. However, these rooms looked more like hospital wards than doctors’ offices and it would have been challenging to find a time when they were free. We also looked at several non-medical offices in the campus and spoke to several people who were open to us potentially filming in them. While we were at Sighthill, we scouted the Edinburgh College campus and found a waiting area in the Enterprise Centre that we thought would be perfect.

Ultimately, we decided to film in the Edinburgh College waiting room as it fitted our film’s aesthetic and was accessible on weekday evenings. Changes to the script meant that we no longer required a consultation room. I spoke to the Enterprise Centre manager and a member of the security team who were very helpful and granted us permission to film on the evenings of two weekdays.

We decided to film in the rear visitor car park at Merchiston Campus as the colourful wall panels fit nicely with the film’s style. I arranged this with the campus manager and a health and safety officer. Being a medium-risk area, we agreed that this location required an especially thorough risk assessment and extra care was taken on-set to ensure all cast and crew were wearing hi-vis vests while not in the car and that all people and equipment were on the pavement whenever possible.

We were very happy with Amy’s performance in the taster film so we decided to cast her as Josie in the final project. On Leon’s recommendation and after seeing some of her previous work, we asked Freda Macdonnel to play Ellen, Josie’s mum. She was also excellent and well-suited to this role.

We initially decided to put out a casting call for the doctor as Mia (who played her in the taster) seemed slightly too young. However, I had to inform respondents that script changes meant that we no longer needed an actor to play the doctor. This obviously was not good practice and should have been avoided by making sure that we had the basic story locked down before beginning casting. Eventually, we asked Mia to read the doctors’ lines for the sequence when we hear the doctor speaking to Josie through the tannoy. As this was a voice-only role, age was no longer an issue and Mia was very happy to come back on board the project.

We sourced some crew from our class but also asked friends we knew from previous filmmaking projects, including some people who will starting our course in September. Everyone was experienced in their roles and worked well together, leading to a good on-set atmosphere. Other pre-production tasks included scheduling, kit booking and arranging catering. Overall, despite some challenges around script redrafting, our pre-production phase was very successful and set the stage for a well-organised shoot.

Photos from various location recces:

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