I knew it would be challenging shooting a music video outside in the Dorset elements in February – but somehow when I get an idea into my head, it's impossible to let go! The gist of the video was three friends having a lark on a day out. Just doing what we do. As Creative Director I'd factored in the time of year as a part of the vibe to the video – but not necessarily how exhausting it was going to be working under those conditions. And I was going to be on camera – it was up to the team behind the camera to keep the shoot on schedule. All we had to do was sing, and dance, and look happy all day. Easy, right?
The alarm went off at 6.30am and I woke the on-camera troops: main man, recording artist Jo Burt, and fellow backing vocalist Kathy Samuel who had come down from London and was staying with us. Kathy and I did our best to make up for a daytime, outdoor shoot in low electric light – we favour mood lighting in our house – and dressed in layer after layer of warm, colourful clothing. We'd checked the weather report and knew we were in for a chilly day! The colour was to compensate for the grey February weather.
At 7.45am a text came through from Director, Graham Trott. It read “Bring umbrellas if you have any.” Umbrellas. Plural. So it was going to be THAT kind of a day!
We had filmed the first scene the previous night at the end of a tough vocal recording session in the studio. The first stop today was going to be in Thorne, Somerset, where we were filming a scene at their village hall. Outside the village hall to be exact. In the driving rain. Graham is a perfectionist – one of the reasons we love to work with him – and we ran the scene six or seven times before he was satisfied enough to move on. Three scenes later – each run several times – and we were completely soaked through! And it wasn't even 11 o'clock. Thankfully we had a hairdryer with us, so a quick blast and we could move on to one of the main events of the day.
We had been loaned a fabulous VW campervan for the day – for which a big thank you must go to Ian Bletsoe. Our team for the day included Martin Atkins – our very own Mr Fixit – who can turn his hand to just about anything when it comes to equipment, cars, trailers and yes, even trains! He is the original 'Man Who Can' and it was through him and his lovely wife, Niki, that we met Ian in the first place! Martin spent the day in the freezing cold loading the campervan up and down several times onto his trailer, and towed it where we needed to be. Why tow it, you may ask, when it clearly drives? Well, as we all know, VW campervans can be somewhat unpredictable – and besides, we had a cunning plan for the driving scene.
The sun began to shine as we headed towards West Bay, so we veered off towards Powerstock, which we had thought we may have to abandon until much later in the day due to the lousy weather. With a break in the rain, we wanted to get the driving scene in the can before the heavens opened again. Leaving the campervan on the back of the trailer, the on-camera team jumped inside while Martin gave the windscreen a good polish to make sure we would be seen through the glass. Graham and his right hand man for the day, Adrian Mitchell – another absolute gem of a man – climbed into the open boot of the range and got ready to film as Martin drove off (with his daughters in the back seat watching DVDs!).
Sitting in the campervan we laughed, joked and sang, all the while doing our best to ignore the two cameras pointing at us through the windscreen, and the GoPro camera with which Niki was standing up through the sunroof and filming. We must have made an amusing little convoy! During this entire scene, we had to leave our Production Assistant for the day, Jessica Sánchez, back with the remaining cars and as we left she captured some of the proceedings on my phone.
Then it was time to unload the camper and film driving it for real. Just as the moment arrived to unload, the heavens opened and we knew we would have to wait it out. It seemed a good moment for a bathroom break – the only trouble being we were in the middle of nowhere and it was freezing cold and pouring down – so not the weather to crouch behind a bush! Four of us drove off in search of a fuel station and after about 10 minutes came upon one in Maiden Newton which housed a singularly unhelpful woman who told us the nearest public convenience was in Dorchester. Seeing as we were in the middle of a shoot and about 15 miles from Dorchester, this was decidedly INconvenient! Long story short, we found someone a great deal more helpful and around 7 minutes further on, our search was rewarded. By this time we had been gone for about 20 minutes and typically, the sun had broken through and was shining brightly. As we raced back across the hills, muttering “Graham is going to kill us!” we received a call from Mr Patience himself, Martin. “We've got the van.” he said. “We've got the cameras all set up. We've even got the sunshine. What we don't have ...” Well, you can guess the rest!
Fortunately the team are nothing if not good-tempered so we weren't in too much trouble. But we were cringing with guilt when we pulled up to find the rain once again coming down and Graham and Adrian huddled on an exposed hillside attempting to keep the camera equipment dry.
Eventually we negotiated the single track road with cars, vans & more – and filmed the distance driving scene. From the rushes we saw shortly afterwards, it was ABSOLUTELY worth the stress. Oh – did I forget to mention the stress? There were one or two short tempers in the on-camera team inside the campervan – and let's just say, they weren't Kathy! Fortunately we're grown ups and put the brief marital discord aside as quickly as it arrived!
Scene three of the day in the can, we relocated to West Bay as originally planned, and with only a couple of hours of daylight left, headed up onto the beach to take advantage of some rather dramatic skies. Messing about on camera is harder than it looks in the freezing cold, but Jo, Kathy & I are 'The Tripod'. We have been friends for many years and being silly is second nature to us. During the beach shoot we were thrilled to see a bright, double rainbow appear and made the most of it – nature provides the BEST backdrops! At the time of writing I haven't seen the rushes of this scene so I distinctly hope the rainbow came out on film!
From the beach we headed to the little harbour, which is where we planned to sing to track – and once again muck about in a totally random manner. It was a great way to warm up after freezing our assets on the beach, so we made the most of it. The passers by were amused by our antics and we brought smiles to an otherwise dark and dismal afternoon. The optimum shot meant that we ended up dancing in a deep puddle, and try as we might, every time we moved away, we ended up back in that damn puddle! To say our feet were a little wet – and cold – would be a massive understatement! But once again, it was worth it.
Dancing around like loons complete, we headed for one more outdoor shot to catch the last of the daylight. This time we climbed up on the campervan and sang along to track a few times. All the while trying not to let on that we were totally frozen! How on EARTH Jo managed to continually play his twelve-string with hands that cold is beyond me!
As dusk fell we packed up and headed for one final – and highly anticipated – scene for the day. The 'pint' scene! Production Assistant, Jess, rang ahead to the Rose & Crown in Longburton and arranged a blazing fire to warm us before we shot the final scene. The pub – which is already known to us and one we love – was warm and welcoming, and that first sip of cider was like nectar! Filming the pint scene was the easiest and most comfortable part of the day – but none of us are actors so if we hadn't had such an exhausting, freezing day, we might not have been able to get across just how fantastic that first sip was!
We topped off the day with a delicious meal at the pub and yet another pint. This time off camera as we relaxed and toasted a successful day against all the odds!
A massive thank you to the amazing, patient, and in most cases HARDY team for the day: Graham Trott; Martin & Niki Atkins (and a shout out to Megan & Rossy who hung on in there all day!); Adrian Mitchell; Jessica Sánchez; Ian Bletsoe for the loan of the VW; Marianne Edwards for the picnic which kept us going on a cold, wet, Dorset hillside; and Joe and Franck at the Rose & Crown for warming, feeding and watering us at the end of a long, tiring, but fabulous day.
The video has now been released! Click here to view Indestructible, by Jo Burt.