© Russell Whitehead photography
Filming: Apostle’s Manoeuvre
All is silent as the crowds surrounding the scene stare silently.
They are still, allowing movement to transcend into the scene.
The two leading characters begin the rhythm of action reaction,
playing off each other’s fantasy. Rudy, playing the mature
father, has a disarming charm that was once used more
rebelliously. This rebellious nature now sits opposite incarnated
in his son. Leo is a character of youthful trends just as most of
us were, though has abilities yet unflourished. In his stare stirs
a quiet stubbornness in opposition to the mellow laid back
demeanour of his father. Cut.
The short film is titled ‘Apostle’s Manoeuvre’ which I found referred to the phrase ‘To rob Peter to pay Paul; that is, to borrow money off one man to pay another.’ Apostle refers to a missionary, an advocate of a certain cause. They are filming at the Rialto Bingo Club in Coventry which consists of an unusual yellow room with a few bingo tables and machines. Strangely most of the hall has been hollowed out, holes are craters where tables once fastened.
Noise resumes as the actors and crew discuss various perceptions.
There are two cameraman, two lighting directors, two sound engineers
and various other continuity and production staff to ensure smooth operation.
“Ok lets go again” calls Brian the director, pursuing the cycle of re-enactment
and repetitions of scenes that become hypnotic in a rhythmic dance of
paradynamic shifts, creating memories of motion, sound and footprints.
Camera rolling, sound, clapper board, scene 3 take 4.. Action.
I stand back from the scene waiting for the decisive moment that a photographer
encaptures. I see a film set as three spheres, an isolated existence, surrounded
by a fortress of crude machinery escalating high and covering the floor with
cables of spaghetti, lights and lenses. Surreal equipment with cameras with
detached steering wheels and tentacle like apparatus reaching ceilings. Three
point lighting, sound equipment with dead animal fur imitation covers. The first of the three spheres is the played scene with the actors, the new existence which is created by the filmmakers. The second sphere is the filmmakers with their machines. The third is the voyeurs, extras and assistants clouding the others watching how the scenes are orchestrated. Its almost like a organic cell of our body, each with a crucial role in a larger system of rules and function.
The clapper board snaps before every scene like a switch of existences,
breaking one reality for another. The new scene, this new reality has the
capability to re-enact each moment to become perfect. Each take pushes for a greater significance. Brian shouts ‘cut’ signalling the end of the shot, bringing us back to reality.
The actor is curious. The players hide their anxiety of performing a life
not their own, clouded in desire and pretence one step closer to true
escapism. Action and scenes roll one after another. Brian cuts the
scene again, relaxed and confident, confides with the actors to refine
nuances. The director is like a psychiatrist, working with people to get
the most out of their persona. The director pursues a journey for our
vision based on his own, in order to create a certain suspension of
disbelief, a certain truth.
Beth and Amiee play characters distracted by the outside world, on mobiles and
flirting yet perform their characters menial tasks with mouth and tongue in cheek.
They are exuberant actors, bursting with admirable excess energy that only
performers harbour. A condition that any artist desires and learns to live with.
Tired faces of concentration, repetition and performance allude in ore of a film set,
breaking walls of reality, dancing with morals, extracting pinnacle moments. Soon
the final ‘it’s a rap’ will echo across all spheres. A sharp uncomfortable snap thrusting us back into our own realities like the transition from the cinema theatre to the sobering auditorium, or being awoken from a deep numbing dream. I am informed that this bingo club has already closed for business, possibly making this filming one of its last stories to tell. It will soon become yet another empty vessel of the economy, where memories echo in the hollow spaces, where noise once sung yet forever captured in film for the briefest of moments.