Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Mortus illumina 2nd Incarnation

Read about the first incarnation here

I've mentioned in the first incarnation, that not much changed in the script, from its initial conception to the first shoot, and at last nights Bettakulcha (video going online in the coming week) - which was a fantastic night, get yourself down to the next one. I mentioned that the first and second shoots were mainly driven by enthusiasm. Which is great, but no substitute for planning.  In hindsight, if we had spent, even just an extra three months before shooting, on rewriting and rewriting the script. That would of probably saved about a year in post production. As it was, there were several rewrites as we went along.

The 2nd Major incarnation of the script came immediately after the first shoot. We had spent nine days at a Country house in Norfolk, filming the hammer horror incarnation. So we had plenty of footage of nuns - doing erm nunning things, and some really weak scenes, down to a poor script.

There were, however some good scenes in there, and one of the major reasons for a shift in direction was down to the fifth night of filming on that shoot.

The fifth night, was the filming of the car scene. Which you can see a quick snippet of, in the original trailer.  To bring you up to speed, we had lost our original planned location for this shoot, very near the shoot date itself. We had less than a week to find another location, which we did, but it threw our original shooting schedule out the window.

We lost a day on location, due to having to familiarise ourselves with the surroundings, which put a huge damper on morale. Also, facilities weren't great - we ended up smuggling  several crew and cast into nearby Norwich university to use the showers. Catering wasn't great and the first few days of shooting were something of a slog.

Due to the low budget nature of the film, as most of our shoots were inside, we only hired internal lights (far cheaper) but we had a few external shoots to do, one of which was the car scene.

Now the differences between external and internal film lights, is effectively down to the grounding and insulation, also to note, we are not running on domestic voltage here.  We are running from a 120 amp feed.

You can use the lights outside, not a problem - as long as it doesn't rain...

It rained.

Now, we had set up the lights, late afternoon and the car (a 1920's Jaguar) arrived on set around 6pm and was due to be on set for four hours. We were waiting for it to get dark and everything was in place, so we could move quick.

Before it turned dark, the first spout of rain came down. It was only drizzle and the crew went around putting black bags over the lights. Then it began to pour and all the lights were bought inside.

Then it stopped

and the lights went back out

Then it rained

and the lights went back in

It was now dark and fast approaching the time, when the car should of been returning. The guys who lent us the car were happy to wait a bit longer and we kept them entertain with tales and food around the fireplace, in fact all the cast and crew were around the fireplace as there was nothing else we could do.

By about ten o'clock, there was a break in the clouds and we got all the equimpent back outside; camera in place , cast in make up and costume  and we were about to turn over. ... When the heavens opened. Once again it was the mad dash to take the lights in and every availiable hairddryer was aquired and put into use.

Come midnight, and amazingly the car hire guys were still happy to wait and myself, the DOP and lighting director and the production manager had a emergency meeting. It would be possible to turn the lights on in the rain, but once they were on, they would have to stay on. We would effectively be creating a live circuit. It was a huge risk (if a bulb went, there would be no way to replace it there and then ) but manageable. The call was made. The crew then jumped into action and starting putting up the lights and insulating cables as best they could. The
production crew, went into health and safety overlords as safe paths were marked off , risk assesments done and lines of death drawn.

The moment we started shooting, we would have to shoot continuously, which involved the crew and cast being out in the rain for several hours. Everyone, and I mean everyone went above and beyond the call of duty that night to look after each other and make the shoot happen. A continued supply of hot drinks were rushed to the front line, Chocolates and sweets distributed and warm jackets at the ready, for those few breaks that were taken.The cast did a great job both in front and behind the camera.  For those hours we shot, until the sun came up, battling against the elements, there was a fantastic feeling of camaraderie - one of my favourite times on a film shoot.

After this shoot, I felt that the script was not doing justice to the effort that had been put into it.  I went straight into changing the script. There were about four or five drafts to the second incarnation and below are some of the major changes.

  • The introduction of the character doga (pictured right). Originally , Veil and the beach scenes would just be himself and the character Rico.
  • Mary's and Rico's back story was expanded.
  • The whole universe and the book Mortus illumina was made central to the storyline. Mainly through Doga.
  • A shift away from the Hammer head horror, to a more supernatural tale of horror.  

This incarnation of the script, lasted between 2001 and 2002 and was used as the basis of the:

2nd shoot (Beach/Deadlight scenes)

3rd shooot (London shoots)

4th Shoot (Chapel Shoots)

This trailer was cut, shortly after the 4th shoot and should give you a feel for how the second incarnation would of looked.

In part 3, I'll explain the reason for the shift to the third and final incarnation, but below is a  storyboard sequence, from the second incarnation that was never filmed. It was going to be the opening of the film.

Finally, to end, if you click on the read more, there are some emails from cast and crew at various stages, talking about the shoots.

From: "Tony Gowing"
Date: Wed Apr 25, 2001 10:18 pm
Subject: Well done
A big thank you to everyone
Despite the weather we pulled it off
Without the team effort this would have been impossible
What more can I say

From: "Lifegamer"
Date: Thu Apr 26, 2001 11:57 am
Subject: Re: [5YLAC] And Relax.............................
Anybody out there got a spare lisp???
Whilst I lay here in my sick bed suffering from a killer case of
flu I have hallucinatory images of Nuns and mansions flitting
through my head. What's really strange is that I know they
actually existed and Chance now has them captured on tape.
In between vast quantities of fluids and medicine I have had the
chance to look back on what we achieved in such a short time and,
apart from the occasional grumble and a little problem here or
there in communicating departmental etiquette, we really got down
and did the job.
If there is one thing I would like to say to one and all, you did
your part and without you we would be lost. As I said at the
beginning lest it be forgotten THANK YOU.
See you all for the debrief on Saturday???? PAM All Bar One,
SOHO!!!! If you can't make it please drop one of us a line or
ring/carrier pigeon etc.
PS Remember Joes buying the beers on Saturday so make the most of
From: Kathy
Date: Wed Sep 19, 2001 2:49 pm
Subject: Re: [5YLAC] Weekend in Hull??
What is this debrief thing- do I need to go?
Great fun at the weekend, good work everyone- off to edit my film/
write stuff
for my website, see you soon

From: "paul holden"
Date: Wed Sep 19, 2001 6:14 pm
Dear all,
This is Paulie (Rico) with a message to the crew present on the
beach of
death at the weekend.
I would like to thank you all for your unassailable efforts and
under such extreme weather conditions.
Your devotion to the cause meant that I suffered less! Sitting in
A-team van huddled away under a blanket, safe from the elements,
non-sequiturs, blowing off indiscriminately and emerging only as
All involved executed their tasks without complaint and with true
professionalism .... enabling me to bugger off quick sharp back to
I have nothing but admiration for the hours you put in so
resolutely. I
doubt I could have had such resilience. Not that I am a big girls
blouse or
anything .... okay, so I am, we actors can't all be as butch as
you crew
The irony in the presence of such incredible winds is that it will
make the
footage look that much (wilder) better. On viewing it I am sure
people will
wonder what sort of equipment was utilised to achieve such
I know that Susie (this weekend, a part-time crewie herself) and
Darryl echo
these sentiments as they had said as much on our journey home.
It's a well done all round and a big thank you.

Subject: [5YLAC] something for the weekend?

Created by Eddie on 24 Apr 2002 19:51:35

1 Message #1 of 1: Date Posted: 24 Apr 2002 19:51:35 by Eddie


Hi there

I just wanted to say thanks for a great - if incredibly long Tuesday.

It was good to meet most of you guys on Tuesday, and see the folks that

is making Mortus Illumina. I had an excellent day - I apologise that we had

to take off pretty quickly and avoided much of the clearing up, but as it

was we didnt get home till 6.30.

Hope all of you that had to go to work got there OK.

All the best

Eddie – Bar Men In Bar Scene

Subject: the shoot

Created by Kathy on 24 Apr 2002 22:33:05

1 Message #1 of 1: Date Posted: 24 Apr 2002 22:33:05 by Kathy


Just to say to everyone great work over the 4 days. Hard work but good fun.

We seemed more pulled together as a team than last time- which is good

after the 6 month gap- lets not leave it so long next time. anyway see

you all at the debrief if we can find a location for one ;)

Kathy – SPAM Team

PS- Nikki says if you are hungry then you're stuffed- shes not cooking!

Subject: Thanks for having me....

Created by Joe Pritchard on 24 Apr 2002 22:51:07

1 Message #1 of 1: Date Posted: 24 Apr 2002 22:51:07 by Joe Pritchard


Hi all,

And just to echo Chance....BLOODY WELL DONE!!!!!!

As a first timer on set I was fascinated by how everything came together,

and was once again struck by the 5YLAC professionalism. Apologies for

not being around for Monday and Tuesday, but my day job decided to intervene....:-(

Seriously, everything seemed to go swimmingly well, and I'm looking forward

to my next on-set experience. I just hope I didn't get in the way too


I won't be able to make the debrief this weekend due to prior GMOs (Ghastly

Moral Obligations) but would invite you all to pencil in Saturday 11th

May when I'll be coming down to do two things - a Marketing / PR / Executive

Producer type meeting AND hopefully an opportunity to buy folks beers and

stuff in the afternoon and early evening and to thank folks that I didn't

get around to thanking!

But thanks very much for all your efforts....and I hope that children everywhere

have filled in timesheets and expenses....:-)


Joe - Executive Producer

Subject: Your all a bunch of sweeties! :P

Created by Noctis on 25 Apr 2002 08:13:01

1 Message #1 of 1: Date Posted: 25 Apr 2002 08:13:01 by Noctis


I just like to take a few moments to say THANK YOU. For everything this

weekend, again sorry for not being there monday/tuesday, i've finished

the "SoundSpace" thing i've been doing, so thats all finished and everything.

Thanks to Suzy and Anna and all those other beautiful girls that realllllly

picked my day up, whenever i felt down or tired all i had to do was spot

one of you, and if i was feeling brave chat with you :0)

You all gave me a chance and i respect everyone who gave me that chance

to be myself, without the "pity the deaf guy" thing. So thanks to all you

beautiful people *you know who you are!!*

I hope everyone liked the effects i created while i was there :)

Thanks again, and i look forward to all my big hugs and kisses from my new

female friends!! *wink*

Mark (Noctis) Henderson - SFX Make Up

Subject: what a weekend!!!!!!

Created by Susan-Anne Lees on 25 Apr 2002 12:13:26

1 Message #1 of 1: Date Posted: 25 Apr 2002 12:13:26 by Susan-Anne Lees


I really enjoyed worked over the Sunday to Tuesday night and meeting all you

guys :) I had a brill time and got to work with more than and cast and crew

of 8!!! (my previous best )

it was nice to see Joe as well as all the peeps who have been mailing me,

who I have never met..

hope you are all resting up as well as getting back to work :D

it was great and I really enjoyed working with such professionals and

chatting to you all and having the challenge of doing make ups on my own for

a day and masses of hair styles in a time period :D

hope to see you all soon, or at least being able to mail some of you :D

cant wait to the next shoot, hope its when im off college :)

oh and thanks for the best food ive had in months!!!!!!

lots of love hugs and powder puffs!!!

Sue – Hair Stylist


Subject: RE: The Weekend

Created by Matt Connolly on 25 Apr 2002 14:00:11

1 Message #1 of 1: Date Posted: 25 Apr 2002 14:00:11 by Matt Connolly


Well guys,

we did it, have to say I had a great time this weekend meeting all of those

I hadn't previously met and working with those I had. Filming in the Rythym

factory was a brilliant time, although finally getting to bed at 6am for

2 hours sleep and then gettng up at 8am to go to work took its toll, no shit!

Can't wait for the chapel shoot, the sooner the better!! Anyway just wanted

to say that I truly enjoyed it and it was pleasure to work with you all

- I think a well deserved thanks to the production team for keeping us

fed and watered - without the cans of coke I don't think I woulda' made

it. Anway I mustn't ramble any further,

Look forward to having a liquid debriefing with you guys soon, and remember...if

you're names not down - you ain't coming in.

Matt C - Camera Assistant

Subject: {5YLAC} Re: That's the Bugger!!

Created by Tony Gowing on 25 Apr 2002 22:42:30

1 Message #1 of 1: Date Posted: 25 Apr 2002 22:42:30 by Tony Gowing


Just like to say thanks to Brandon and Ran for the professional support

on set for the night club scenes.

With Nigel and Lloyd and Anna this was the best Cinematography team so far

. Everyone just got on with it: true professionalism. I even managed to

down fluids and food on this shoot, nice curry by the way.

Would have liked to have been on set for the whole shoot but unfortunately

illness took over.Apologies to everyone but I know that you all did a great

job throughout.

Well done everyone.

Tony – Lighting Director

Subject: [5YLAC]another lil comment...

Created by Zoe Smith on 26 Apr 2002 13:40:09

1 Message #1 of 1: Date Posted: 26 Apr 2002 13:40:09 by Zoe Smith


Hello, Zoe dept. newbie...and 1st time poster (or summit like that).

Tuesday was my first, proper, full on, 5YLAC experience...'n' I wouldn't

have missed it for the world.

I feel very lucky, proud, 'n' many more things to have been invited and

welcomed into this company...thanQ!!!

It was lovely meeting those I did...'n' look 4ward to meeting more of you...

Until next time...

uh...that'd be sunday...yey

zoe – Art Department

Subject: Mortis Aparrel

Created by Mark Wyndham on 29 Apr 2002 16:22:42

1 Message #1 of 1: Date Posted: 29 Apr 2002 16:22:42 by Mark Wyndham


Just a small note to say thank you to every one I met on the Moris Ilumini

shoot. I had a great time and enjoyed working with a bunch of like minded

professional people.

Also thank you to all who helped out with costume by bringing their own

stuff and not winge'ing when things didn't quite fit.

Hope to see you all on the next one,

yours from the darkest depths of vampire bliss.

Mark - Wardrobe Master

Message #2 of 5: Date Posted: 25 Apr 2002 14:00:16 by andy mealing (AJ)



May I say on behalf of the SPAM team, thanks for an enjoyable weekend's

shooting and a great Tuesady evening (albeit a little shorter for myself

having to leave at 11.40pm). Sadly, I will be unable to make the de-brief

this weekend as I am committed to work projects. But I trust everyone will

have a an extra beer in my absence.

The most important thing to come out of the last weekend is seeing how the

whole crew has started to gel as a team, and this makes everyones life both

easier and more enjoyable. Looking forward to the next exciting instalment


Oh, and by the way I managed to get one and three quarter hours of footage,

and will try to cobble together a rough edit some of it beofore the next



Andy (AJ) Mealing - Spam

Message #3 of 5: Date Posted: 25 Apr 2002 17:44:36 by darrell brockis


Apologies to all I didn't say goodbye to on Tues in my rush to join the

westbound taxi. Well done everyone; it was the most enjoyable day's filming

I've had to date.

Steve, I have the receipt for the Acton taxi - I took it on to Ealing for an

extra £5.

Darrell. – Actor Veil

Message #4 of 5: Date Posted: 25 Apr 2002 19:37:01 by Steve


What can I say that hasn't already been said? We came, we saw and we

undoubtedly conquered a pretty rough shoot.

We relied less than ever on the skin remaining on our teeth and pulled back

the cover on the future of 5YLAC.

We're hitting all the right notes and most of them in the right places. It

shouldn't mean we get complacent about it (There are still a few instruments

in this band that need re-tuning and tweaking!) but if we push off from here

then the rest of this film and future projects are just going to get better

and better.

A BIG WELL DONE and THANK YOU to all those special people who have slogged

day and night to make this happen. I know that modesty means you wouldn't

want me to name each of you individually!!! Enjoy the high and get some

rest for the Chapel.

AND FINALLY...... In case nobody else says it directly I would like to

propose a toast to our illustrious leader and thank him for keeping the

faith in his dream - Well Done Chance - That's the Bugger!!

Looking forward to ripping the remaining areas for improvement apart and

polishing up the nun rollocking roller coaster ride that is 5YLAC for the

final downhill on Mortus.(Oh and finally getting round to having my first

beer after the shoot)

Cheers All and see you soon,

Steve – Production Manager

Production Manager




ANA CALZADA. – Clapper Loader

Subject: Thanks and now on to the chapel.......

Created by Brandon on 30 Apr 2002 14:25:03

1 Message #1 of 1: Date Posted: 30 Apr 2002 14:25:03 by Brandon


To all,

Sorry to miss the debrief (read heavy drinking session?) but another film


Just wanted to say that the last shoot was one of the most enjoyable I have

worked on, and one of the best examples of teamwork to overcome problems and

make something visually exciting.

My own little thanks you's now (in no particular order)

To Chance first and foremost for the vision and drive as well as the energy to

keep in all moving in spite of little obstacles (Trucks and angry graveyard

keepers spring to mind)

To the cast, especially Paul who kept banging his head against the dock wall

untill we got the bugger!

To Nigel and the camera team for providing efficient movement and constant

humour and patience - especially Ran who sprinted off to steal dead branches

from the graveyard!

To Matt and JB for keeping everything on the shots moving along as an AD

should do - but somehow not managing to piss everyone off!

To Steve and all of production for looking after complaining techies and

feeding us all with a smile!!!

To James and Mark in sound for constantly amazing everyone with their

gadgets - any more Twix bars in those bags James? Or is that a plane?

To the Art department especially on the Bar Shoot for making such a great

looking set.

To Wardrobe for manaing to fit a pair of 44" pants on me, and fixing a

motorbike that the rest of us men could only stare at and ponder.

To hair and make up for coping with all the cast especially in the bar, and

getting them done so well and quickly.

To Samu who always knew what was going on - exactly!

Last and certainly not least to Jason for taking on the role of set whipping

boy with such good humour and all his help to everyone!

Like any good acceptance speech there's too many to mention individually,

but suffice to say I am looking forward to the Chapel shoot and am glad I've

been given the opportunity to work with this mad nun-beating crew!

Brandon - Gaffer

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