Tag Archives: filming

Questions about Magda

Making films is not just a simple case of writing a script, getting together a few camera angles and hey presto, you have made movies. It is always a lot more complex than that. As the preparations for the shoot of Great Brytania continues, I have been in communication with Marzenna Więcek (who plays the part of Magda) and have been answering her questions about the character. As the writer (and the director), it is me who has to create a mold so that Marzenna can fit into the character I want to portray on the screen. So below are some of the questions she asked, and my answers.

Next week, I will answer the final, most important Question about Magda:

What is Magda’s target? To Adapt?

To Survive, plain and simple.

What are Magda’s aims?

To get more drugs. She is hooked, and both the physical and more importantly, the psychological hold of the drug on Magda is, at the moment, unbreakable.

Is Gemma her first girlfriend? No. Magda is a lesbian, not bisexual. One of the reasons Magda left Poland was that she could not resolve the conflict between society and her sexuality. Running away to the ‘big city’ is a common phenomena amongst young gay/lesbian people seeking a more tolerant backdrop to their sexuality ten or twenty years ago.

Has Magda slept with guys before?

Yes. Magda experimented when she was younger, but was very uncomfortable sleeping with men. This is how she knows that she is fully lesbian rather than a lesbian identified bisexual.

Was she in love with some guy?


Has she had before some sexual experiences with any woman? Or with Gemma?

Yes, she has been sexually active with women both in Poland and London. Magda has had more female sexual partners while in London.

Is the relationship with Gemma more psychical / platonic love?

Magda and Gemma love each other. But obviously, Magda is quite sick, and Gemma has given birth recently, so their sex drive has diminished recently.

Does Magda want physical intimacy? Did the drugs not kill her sex drive?

Magda is as sexual as the next human being. The drugs both enhance and depress her appetite for sex. Obviously, the drugs have a major effect on her mentality, and the obtaining and consumption of drugs is Magda’s priority. But like anyone else, Magda wants sex with her girlfriend, Gemma.

When was her mother dead?

When Magda was a teenager. I would say around 14 years old.

How did Magda’s mother die?

Cancer, easy answer, difficult for the character to deal with.

How did the father deal with her death?

Badly. The major reason he drinks is that he has never been able to reconcile his grief.

Is she accusing the father because of that?

There is definitely resentment and anger directed towards her father. Grief is a complicated emotion, and while she does not blame her father for her mother’s death, their is anger (misdirected at the father) for why she had to go rather than him. Also, remember that the father does not accept Magda’s sexuality, which further adds tension to their relationship.

Is she accusing the mother?

Of course there is also anger towards the mother at why she had to die and leave her behind. As I have mentioned previously, grief is a complicated emotion. I will talk to Marzenna about this when I come to Poland.

Was the mother happy with the father? Yes.

Did M. talk with the mother about her sexual orientation?

No, that was not done in 1990’s Poland.

How the mother reacted on this?

While the mother might have suspected about Magda’s sexuality, to be honest, she died before Magda reached any form of sexual maturity.

Did the mother betray the father? Do You have suspicions about it?

No, they stayed married faithfully, with their ups and downs.

How was the mother treated by the father?

Like a Polish housewife. Remember, the mother would have died around the time of the early 1990’s, and socially, Poland was a very different place from now. Less divorce, more conservative family values. People stayed married for longer.

How long did Magda take drugs?

Petty drugs (alcohol and cannabis) would have started from mid-1990’s, when Magda was in her late teens. Heavier drugs, she would have encountered in London.

Did M. love someone before Gemma?

Of course. If Magda is in her thirties, then Gemma is not her first love.

Did she face any love disappointment before she was betrayed?

Yes. Her girlfriend in Poland probably betrayed her for a man. Remember, she looks at that photograph at the bus terminal, and is one more reason to leave Poland. Magda feels that Polish girls (when she was there in the 1990’s/early noughties) will eventually bow to society norms and ‘become’ heterosexual.

Did she hurt anyone?

I’m sure Magda is no angel, but Magda probably sees herself more as a victim, and that would be bound up in the grief of her mother’s death.

Is he afraid she can loose Gemma?

Yes and no. Magda is a bit older than Gemma, and part of her wants Gemma to have a better life without herself, the AIDS victim. But of course, if Gemma left Magda, she would be emotionally distraught. But remember, the problem with Magda (and Gemma) they love each other, but not themselves enough.

In which way the heroin made her emotionally wild?

Heroin in fact probably calms Magda down, makes her quite mellow. Crack Coccaine on the other hand will make her brave enough to laugh at Ritchie.

Does she have suicidal thoughts?

All the time.

Since when was Magda infected with HIV?

Okay, a bit of technicality here. The definition of AIDS is different from country to country. Here, in the UK, it is when the White Blood Cell count (the cells that attack bacteria and viruses) drops below a certain level. Now, while drugs can reverse this count upwards, in the UK, once you have been diagnosed with AIDS, you, cannot be undiagnosed and revert to HIV, even though your White Blood Cell count has risen to more ‘normal’ levels.

Magda got an infection, went to the local health clinic. A lot of outreach health workers are available in London to women working in the sex industry. They provide free (NHS) and of course, confidential help to all that visit them. Magda, while sick, would have got tested for HIV and was then found to be infected.

Now, to directly answer the question, Magda has probably had HIV for three to four years, but as she is bad with her medication (partly due to being a drug taker and so not having any concept of time, plus the fact that she really does not want to cure herself) means that Magda now has full blown AIDS. Remember, Magda’s cuts and sores are not healing.


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The editing pains…

Actually, this week, especially today, has been a good one for piecing together the bits and pieces of Great Brytania that was shot in May. However, it is important to put the footage shot into a bit of context.

Not that much was actually shot. We filmed for just two days, six scenes in total. Three of the scenes are in a block that lasts around two minutes, and record events that took place in the character of Magda’s past. The scenes in that two minute block were shot around Zielona Gora’s bus terminal:

The rest of the scenes shot are splintered, individual pieces. One scene shows the character of Magda returning to her Polish home after a day at work. That particular portion of footage will make no sense until the Internal Polish scenes are shot this Autumn.

The other two scenes are dream sequences, set in the Polish countryside – and we did a little bit of cheating when we shot this, but more of that later 😉

But these two sequences are set while Magda is in London. As the London scenes will not be shot until 2013, I can chop them together, but again, they are out of context.

Anyway, the three scenes at the bus station are what makes up the teaser trailer that I have been editing. Although it is finished, I was not happy with it. As there is no rush to get a trailer ready for this year’s Quest Europe film festival in Poland, I am going back to sort out the rhythm and pace of the film, to give it a less disjointed feel.

I am also going to use this extended opportunity to colour correct the teaser. Normally, I do not colour correct trailers, I think it is a bit of a waste. But as I have time until the next segment of the film will be shot, I think why the hell not. It will make the build up for Great Brytania much more spectacular!

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Film News – Great Brytania begins filming!

Last week I was in Poland and I was as busy as hell.  With bag of equipment saddled to me, I realised one thing.  I need to drive to this country for future shoots.  After flying to Berlin, getting the train to the German/Polish border then a walking through the ‘towns’ to the Polish bus station to get a bus to Zielona Gora…you know what, you can see the hassle when carrying camera, accessories, laptop, scripts, the lot.  And I barely had any clothes to wear.  Not that I needed it, as the weather in Poland was simply stunning!

First things first, the film is to be called Great Brytania. It seemed to coalesce into that direction over the previous week. The title fits, not too long on the mouth, easy for marketing, and easy to write on the slate – oh, this is important!!! The clapper board, where you focus your camera to before clapping it shut…I would love to get a slate, but vanity aside, it is easier for me to write on a piece of paper with a big fat marker pen. Okay, before I get into geek speech, let me garland you with a picture from the set, to explain the clapper board situation…

So it was one hell of a shoot. Six scenes, all outside, all shot in glorious weather. And with a hell of a lot of luck. Half an hour after we wrapped up shooting on Saturday, the heavens opened up! But we got everything, including an appearance by Krzysztof Machalica, a councilor from Zielona Gora whom I met last year at the Quest Europe festival and asked me to come back to shoot a movie in his town. Little did he realise I already had a plan to do so and his prompting gave me a little nudge in the right direction.

But the main actress I was shooting was Marzena Więcek. You have already seen her on the posters and since last year, I have been in discussions with her, so that she could play one of the leading roles in Great Brytania. It was a hell of a lot of fun to shoot with her, but really tricky too. Having to communicate with my terrible English and non-existent Polish, but I got a great performance from her, and I am looking forward to shooting the remaining scenes this year and next. Also, with my small crew, we got through the shoot. Luckily, it was not to difficult. In fact, I will be blunt, shooting was a breeze. Compared to Irfan or Caution Wet Paint, my two previous projects, this was an easy day’s shooting. I think a combination of experience, knowing exactly what I wanted, plus an incredibly busy April where I was planning the hell out of this film, meant that when the moment of shooting came, everything fell into place!

So what have I done on my return to the UK. ‘Simple’.

Upload all the footage onto my computer, and most importantly, back it up.

Secondly, get my continuity notes done. All these external scenes will slot in with the internal shots to be filmed in the Autumn. And that means, getting them noted now, while still fresh in the memory.

Thirdly, realise that I have run out of hard drive space. Oh yes, another expense is upcoming. But for now, I have rationalised my hard drives, so I can run the whole of Great Brytania off one system. It will make life easier for me, for now. Sounds geeky, but trust me, this ground work is essential to getting the-

Fourthly, editing. Oh yes, it is time to cut a little teaser trailer together…


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America in Glasgow

World War Z.

I don’t know. Zombies and me just don’t get along.

No offence, there are great zombie movies out there, but I am no big fan of the horror genre. It just, does not entertain me.

Unlike fried chicken, which most definitely does entertain me.

But the reason I mention this film is that they closed off half of Glasgow’s city centre to make this film.

That’s right, one of Britain’s major cities decided to close off a large chunk of its cityscape in order to make a movie.

Now if you are a local resident, this may be a pain in the neck for you.

If you are a visitor to the city, then this is fantastic!

I had no clue this was happening while I was visiting Glasgow last month, but I was well impressed when after wandering round the city in search of the perfect Haggis, I came across…Philadelphia!

And I was not the only surprised visitor. Lots of the local Glaswegians came to view their city transformed into a film set. To be honest, I did do a double take when I wandered through this part of town. I really did not think that the local authorities would authorise such a closure, but money talks, and why not? Movies are far more fun than banker’s bonuses or government parades or something tatty like that. Oh go on, here is a another shot of America in Scotland!

To wander through this part of Glasgow was astounding. Of course unexpected, but amazing to see how the city really did look like Philadelphia. And as a film geek myself, it was great to see how realistic some of the details actually looked. Ripping out the old lights and signs to be replaced by their American counterparts:

Film sets are busy places and to be honest, the larger they are, the more dull they can seem. A lot of people standing around, getting paid to do very little. The flip side is that most of these guys are freelancers. Once a job comes in, they have to milk it, as the next paid job could be many months away. Being on the film crew is not easy or forgiving financially, but when the opportunity arises, then go nuts!

Part of the reason for allowing the city to be taken over was cash inspired, of course. But also, there is a certain bit of savvy marketing for Glasgow in allowing the city to be taken over for the best part of a month. It allows Glasgow to be shown in a different light. Probably the most famous film to come out of GLasgow in recent years is My Name is Joe, a beautiful film, but it really did not portray the city in any positive light. And yeah, Glasgow is not the prettiest place in the UK (more to come later) statistically, it is also f**ked. So allowing a big Hollywood production to be shot in the city gives Glasgow something else to shine with. And more importantly, could this be the start of a beuatiful relationship with some of those big film companies?


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babarouge.com – redux

As part of the busy times of the past week, I did a little redesign of my website. So do take a look at babarouge.com, tell me what is going on, how things are going on the site and take a good click at all the links – I hope they all work!

It is part of my organisation (some may also say procrastination) but I really need to update the news and going-ons of the past year. It has been a busy time and the tweaking of the website is part of that busy period!

You see, I can blog, almost everyday 😉


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Where have I been?

I completely apologise for my absence. I have been fine, but busy, very busy over the past week. Some of it has been good, and some has been bad. That is the way the cookie crimbles in thw world of El Director.

First let me get on with the great news. As many people who read this blog may note, the distribution of Irfan has been continuing with a fury not seen since the wrestling foundations changed their names. Irfan is in its first film festival, which is great news! We will be screened at the 7th Quest Europe film festival in Zielona Gora as part of the special screenings for jury members. Oh yes, I am gong to be a jury member at Quest Europe. Kind of freaky, it scares the hell out of me, but for some reason I am considered an expert in all things cinematic! But I just want to make musical comedies about flying milk bottles!

You can check out the hi-jinx that is Quest Europe – here!

Secondly, I have been involved in some corporate film work. Whether this will be a one off contract of the start of something bigger, I do not know. But it has been a really big project, and so that has taken over my life alongide the ‘real world’ in the past few weeks.

Thirdly, I have been looking into next year’s film projects and finishing the editing for Amigos Amigos. That is taking so long, but I will release a teaser trailer very soon to update on that particular project!

Normal blogging should resume next week! SHOULD!



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Irfan Post 18b – Correcting the Colours in the night…

(Note – I know a lot of these photos look pretty much the same, and for all you know I could be bulls**tting all of the corrections – but blame jpegs – a nasty codec that strips all humanity and soul from my blog posts…but take a look at the first and the last photos in the post and you will see the greatest difference of before and after)

This blog will look at the colour correcting of Irfan during night scenes, something very different from the last blog post which looked at an outdoor daylight scene.

Here, the grading is a lot more subtle. The whole point of a night scene is that it is dark. There are going to be few problems with digital fade which is often seen during daylight hours where the picture looks washed out. At night, it is the lighting on the set that matter – and thankfully the lighting was good during the shooting of Irfan.

This is the original footage from the prayer scene.

It is actually a beautiful shot, and something I will probably use in the publicity stills (later on). But there were a few additions I added to this shot. Firstly, I tinted the whole picture blue, in fact the whole scene is tinted blue. I wante to give that cold feeling to the audience, a chill, a sense of death. This may sound waffly, but I am a director, waffle is my bread and butter…or my syrup coated waffles…anyways, as part of the mechanics of the plot, this scene is meant to resemble death, and the blue tint across the whole of this segment of the movie for me gives a sense of cold.

Lastly, I put some subtle colours in at the Secondary correction stage. While not clear in this pic, earlier in the clip, when Irfan’s face and mosque cap is in shot, I tinted both those features to give a crisper looking Mosque cap and a more vibrant face so we can see the charater’s emotions.

You know what, let me back up a few frames in the clip, so you can see the effect the secondary corrections have on the picture quality. This is a shot from the same clip, with the blue tint (primary corrections) only.

And here is that same shot with the secondary corrections now in place. Note the Mosque cap is a lot cleaner while you can see a little more of Irfan’s features.

Colour correcting with regards to dark conditions is more subtle. In fact, it is easier. In the daylight, I have to account for the changes in weather, the angle of the sun etc. Night time correction is easiest of all. As it is dark, I am not trying to brighten up (or dull down) the whole picture – hey, it is dark. So the corrections I am making are more focused on subtle points to enhance the story telling aspect. It is more creative, yeah, fun, and less technical as the tech stuff has been done by the lighting crew during the filming.

More fun from the crayon room coming soon…

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