God Will Fall marked a major improvement in my filmmaking back in 2013 when I wrote one of my best short film scripts, a revenge movie about a satanic cult, in a firmly b-movie style in the tradition of Hammer horror. I crowdfunded the film, resulting in the largest budget of all my shorts, and for the first time (outside of film school) replied heavily on a crew made up mostly of 3 very close filmaking friends. The shoot would proove extremely difficult, not only due to the nature of shooting such an ambitious 35 page script on a miniscule budget with so little time, but also due to the tensions amongst the crew that this created. Everyone worked hard, and the conditions (tiny hotel rooms, boiling hot, crammed with sweaty crew and actors, for example) took their toll on us all, and inevitably the film itself. Most of the film was shot in October 2013 and the final day of shooting continued in 2014, minus one of the leading actors who I lost contact with entirely meaning heavy rewrites to the final scene. The lack of budget in these final shooting scenes (the satanic rituals) and the lack of time and energy meant those scenes suffered and overall prevent the film from being what I hoped it could be. Still, it remains a huge step forward for my filmmaking.
Below is my original Kickstarter Update about the film, following the initial shoot:
Shooting “God Will Fall” was hard work and often problematic (as with any film) but I think we’ve shot some great stuff and thanks to my cinematography team it’ll certainly be the most professional looking film I’ve made
DAY ONE! At the Hotel
We shot between the 1st of October and the 21st. Our first day was spent shooting in a stylish hotel in North Ealing, London called Hotel 55. We saved money and killed two birds with one stone by filming a scene that we’d scheduled to shoot at a restaurant a few days later in the hotel restaurant on the same day. This made our schedule very tight as we were choosing to shoot an additional scene on an already busy day. Director of Photography Jonny Petts did a great job of making the hotel restaurant look interesting. Unfortunately the restaurant was extremely noisy, not because there were people around (it was actually empty) but because of the amount of noise coming from the fridges behind the bar (and a noisy dishwasher too). I had to re-record the actors dialogue at home (this is called ADR) to make sure it’ll sound clean and clear in the film.
The hotel room we were shooting in for most of the day grew incredibly hot (it was actually a very hot day outside too) and it got incredibly cramped with the amount of equipment we had with us. The hotel staff were very welcoming and allowed us to shoot pretty much where ever we wanted, which was fantastic. My two actors Anthony and Helen, playing the roles of Eli and Adele, were fun to work with and settled into their roles quickly.
The Hotel Room
The second day was when the inevitable and unpredictable problems of filmmaking began to arise! I woke up in the hotel room at 6AM to find that at 3AM I’d received a text from the third actor who’d be key to the scene we’d film that day. They’d had a death in the family during the night and were unable to attend the shoot. I therefore was forced to cancel that day of filming and re-book the hotel for another day. Luckily the hotel was fine with this and it didn’t cost us any of our precious budget. I also managed to recast the actor and we eventually filmed the scene on the 21st, which Charlotte Roest-Ellis (who frequently performs in my films) doing an excellent job playing the part.
Due to actor availability we also had our schedule changed for our third day of shooting. We were filming in a stunning church in Ealing, but had about 4 hours less time than I needed to shoot. The crew and actors worked very hard and we actually finished the day an hour early! I was incredibly happy with the results of the day in the church and hopefully it’ll be just as good when edited into the final film.
I spent the next couple of days preparing for the weekend’s shoot, which consisted of a lot of set building. Most importantly we had to build a dungeon.
The Dungeon Weekend
To save money I planned to have the wooden sheets (that I needed to build the set) cut at B&Q and transported straight to the shooting space on the morning of the shoot (rather than have them transported to my house and then to the shooting space, which would have doubled the expensive transport costs). However, on the morning, B&Q claimed their wood cutting machine was broken, despite me checking the day before and getting the smaller pieces of the set cut on the wood machine. As the wood couldn’t be cut, it wouldn’t fit in the car! So I had to borrow a trolly from the B&Q car park and wheel these huge sheets of wood all the way to Ealing (a couple of miles!). I arrived at the shoot probably an hour late because of this, which made us fall behind. Luckily my crew and I managed to create a cool looking set, even though we had to cut the wood with a hand saw and then position the camera so we couldn’t see all the rough, wonky edges.
Again, my Director of Photography brought the set to life with some stylish lighting. Our Actress Helen had to roll around in hay, wrapped in chains and spattered in blood. Due to the delay in the morning we soon began to run out of time but just barely managed to finish the scene, having to cut a few shots from the shot list.
Adele awakens in the dungeon…
On the second day we shot scenes with Barrington De La Roche playing our lead villain satanist! Barrington is an very interesting character and was a pleasure to have on set, despite his terrifying, quirky performance. During one scene, Barrington’s long hair kept going into some candles and putting them out, so the set smelt of burnt hair a little. Luckily, he didn’t seem to notice…
The following weekend we were set to film the satanic ritual scenes. Rather than film on location, which would have cost us £2000 per day -on the location we wanted most- or around £600 per day in a crypt I found (I realized throughout the shoot that despite raising a fantastic amount of money, our budget was still microscopic in relation to the big story I wanted to tell), we shot for free in Ealing Studios on a set we built almost entirely our of red and gold silky fabric. It was our budget alternative and was hopefully still very effective. When I arrived to build the set the day before the shoot, I was told the set had been double booked and we weren’t going to be able to shoot! Therefore I had to move the shoot to the following weekend. Luckily all the actors were available to swap dates, but we did have to pay more to rent a Black Magic camera for an additional 2 days (we’d previously been shooting on that camera for free, thanks to our camera operator Michael, who had a contact we could borrow it from!).
Finally we shot the satanic ritual scenes, which were difficult, mostly due to the space we were shooting in. The set continually kept falling down, we must have got through at least 20 rolls of duct tape! The special make-up effects were time consuming, the blood and gore, and it took me about 45 minutes just to get a contact lens in Barrington’s eye! The contact then got stuck in his eye and he had to get it removed in Specsavers the following day… On this weekend, lead actor Helen was only available for half of one of the shooting days, so I expected the schedule to be incredibly tight and had accept the fact that we might not finish all of the scenes by sunday night. We worked as fast as we could, but eventually ran short of time.
The following day we were back at the hotel to film the scene we missed. We made huge mess (there was a shotgun involved) and a lot of noise, but everything was back in its place by the end of the day.
All in all, the shoot was tough, but we got great material and mostly had a fun time!