So, after two long weekends of filming, we now have the vast majority of Spads shot, locked and lying in various hard drives around London. It seems like it would be a good opportunity to review how these past couple of weekends came about.
Given that the majority of the show is split between two offices – the Tory office and the Labour office – we split the shooting into two blocks, with two locations and two sets of actors. So our first weekend of shooting was spent with the Tories and our second with Labour.
As is always the case when you start a shoot, there was a bit more trial and error to be found in our first weekend. Charles, Evie, Sophie and Scott, the actors on the Tory team, were, thankfully, all very game and patient as we constructed the tone of the show over the first day. We had made some style plans at earlier meetings, but, because this was a super low budget shoot, the opportunity to get a camera into the location hadn't happened. Additionally, other than a table read a week earlier, the cast hadn't had a chance to go through the scripts as a whole.
Our first shoot was smack in the middle of the City, which is deserted at the weekend (practically the only time the area is bearable). This definitely played to our advantage, especially during a scene that will appear in Episode 7 of the show, but which I won't spoil for the time being. But, equally, that raises issues about catering services and prop acquisition if it hasn't been organised in advance. All things considered, the shoot ran smoothly, especially because, for the first time since I started filmmaking, we ran a two camera set-up which massively expedited the whole process.
The next weekend we were down near Temple, in an office with a spectacular view over the Thames. This was our appointed home of the Labour team. The contrast in the offices is something I'm pleased with visually: the Tory office is somewhat stuffy, cluttered and with lots of individual workplaces; the Labour office is cramped but modern and with the desks built into an L-shaped arc. I think that when these offices are played side-by-side, the juxtaposition will be quite aesthetically effective. That's the hope at least.
The second weekend was, to begin with, somewhat trickier that the preceding one, largely due to access factors with the location. But once we were in and the set was dressed, things began to click into place. Having a location with a spectacular view is a massive boon, though it's not always easy to engineer it into the rhythm of the shoot. When you watch Spads, you'll probably barely notice the fact that we were in a location that most no-budget filmmakers could only dream of, simply because of the proliferation of such imagery in mainstream TV and film, and because it was very rarely natural for us to draw attention to it.
The crew (all of whom had worked on the show the previous weekend) were more comfortable about the process of shooting the show. Obviously, everyone is experienced in their respective roles, but the Spads shoot was fairly atypical in that it was extremely fast shooting for a low-budget narrative project. We shot almost 15-pages per day, which, if you don't realise it, is pretty crazy.
After those two weekends, we've wrapped all the office shooting (and some non-office stuff too) for the show. We're now moving towards post-production, though there's still, as ever, more shooting to be done.