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  • Writer's pictureEmma Thompson

Shoot diary: Mellah, Hitchin'

When I read the treatment for this shoot, I was excited. But quickly, the pursuit of this vision began to feel a bit Moby Dick - an obsessive quest that might well end in someone's demise.

Moby Dick is 378 close-typed pages and few of us read it, so instead here's an abridged version of how the shoot went.

Hitchin' is a road trip movie... starring a pair of disillusioned mermen (Mellah himself and Josh Loftin from Tiña), along with some unsuspecting passengers - Liane la Havas, Lucinda Duarte-Holman from Alaskalaska, and Kestra Laurent. These are the people making life look easy. With a cast like this, we're going to be alright.

Right, so we need beaches, and sun. Not wash-out London. What about Cornwall?

Where else might you find mermen. Okay, that's sorted. How about some people to jump into the Atlantic in October? Oh, yeah sure.

We also need a car - a classic convertible, but not too classic, more modern but not actually modern. Maybe an 80's or 90's soft top? Well yes, there's about three cars fitting that description in the whole of the British Isles - the rest were scrapped about the time when they got their fifth rust hole in the offside wing.

It's now a few days before the shoot, and there's suddenly only two cars fitting the bill left in the whole British Isles. The one we've lined up has been sold off without telling us.

It's not the end of the world - we've found another one. Oh, the same thing happened again? So we're now down to the very last not-quite-classic car in the whole of the British Isles.

Is the weather forecast likely to change when we're a day and a half before the shoot? Just to clarify, will it do a complete u-turn from promising torrential rain, to gentle sun and scattered clouds, so that we can film? What do you think?

Okay, move the shoot day. Move everything. Reschedule everyone. All of those things that have taken days to line up - move them all, and make sure they come. And do it quickly, because you will probably still need to find another car. This time, the one that doesn't exist.

You know I spoke of someone's demise? Well, that's not going to be the mermen. For the first time I'm aware of we've got a coasteering supervisor on-set - someone who knows the depth of the water and how to safely approach it. If we're talking about demise, then It's either mine or the last used-car salesperson I just spoke to.

Did you know that Germany has approximately an eighth of the length of coastline that the UK has? That said, Germany is where you go to order specialist mer-people tails - and they look just like the real thing.

Quality comes at a price, and if you want quality mer-person tails and Hollywood-grade CGI then we're going to have no budget for a tractor, as per the original treatment. That's okay, we can just get the kit van to drive past. Really, it's not as important.

It's shoot day! Everyone, be up and ready for just-past-midnight o'clock. Wow, the amazing vegan catering from Falmouth's Sloth and Sparrow - how delicious was that breakfast/lunch/dinner. Let's give them a shout-out on the blog.

It's time to shoot the part where you try hitch a lift from the kit van, but - hang on, is that a real tractor approaching? A great big, real life tractor rumbling down the lanes?

Finally, Poseidon and Neptune were smiling on us.

I love my job.

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