Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Guess The Desk No. 4

Not much to go on in this picture....or is there?

Guess The Desk No. 3

Is it who you think? Have a close look......

Crew Interview Number 2 - Billy Sneddon

Here's the second interview with GW crew members.

This is with Billy Sneddon....read on and enjoy....

1) Who are you, and what is your title?
My name is Billy Sneddon, and I am one of the two editors of Green Wing. The other one is Lucien Clayton. As you can tell from the name he's the posh one, I'm the bit of rough. We can also do good cop/ bad cop impressions.

2) And what exactly does an Editor do?
While you're all off filming in the bum end of nowhere, I am tucked away in a warm room, hunched over a computer watching what you got up to the day before. I will look at all the footage and choose the best bits and create an assembly edit of the show while you are filming, then when filming ends I am joined by Victoria (Producer), and together we begin the long process of turning the assembly cut, which can be anything up to 90 mins long, into the 49 min final programme.

3) What sort of training have you had and how did you get into the Industry?
15 years ago I was out of work and met an editor in a pub. He was looking for an assistant so I told him editing was what I always wanted to do, even though I really didn't even know what it was. Unbelievably, he bought it and gave me a job, and here I am. It's ridiculous I know, but it's true.

4) Green Wing is a mammoth project. How do you keep track of all the footage?
I read somewhere recently that there are thousands of hours of footage shot for the series! It's not quite that bad, it's probably more like 300 hours, but I'm only guessing. Thankfully it's all done on computer these days so it's pretty easy to keep track of it all. It's shot on digibeta tape, then digitized into two Avid editing systems. We also have a lovely script supervisor called Lesley who gives us edit notes (a brief explanation of what is being filmed and selected takes), which I pretend to read...

5) You must watch a scene over and over (and over again) when you're cutting it. How on earth do you look at a final cut objectively and with a fresh eye?
The honest answer is it's impossible. By the time it gets on the telly, I feel like I've watched it hundreds of time already. You just have to try and remember how you felt the first time you saw it. In fact if I can get away with it, I don't read the script or look at the notes before I watch the rushes, just so I can see it the same way a viewer would, without any prior knowledge. Then I try to remember that feeling when I'm watching it for the 43rd time and want to throw myself out the window.

6) Whenever I've seen you at work, you're tucked away in a darkened office/edit suite. What do you do to switch off from work ?
I lie on my living room floor naked with a half empty bottle of gin, sobbing quietly. No, actually I've taken up golf recently. I appear to be slowly turning into my father...

7) They say that good comedy is all about timing, which is particularly pertinent to your job of editing cutting in and out of a scene. Do you think you can be taught that knowledge of timing, or are some people more adept at it than others?
There are a lot of techniques and tricks that can be taught, but I've noticed a lot of the best editors are also musicians of one sort or another, so maybe there is some truth in the notion that it helps to have 'rhythm'.

8) Having worked on Series 1, did it make it any easier to edit Series 2?
Yes and no. Yes because we had already worked out the visual style and look of the thing, and no because on the first series we didn't really know the scale of the task, because we had never done anything that big before, but this time we knew what we were in for, and that made it pretty daunting to be honest.

9) Are there any scenes that you feel particularly proud of and why?
I can't remember which episode, but there's a scene where Statham goes into Lyndon's office and strips and rubs his bum along the desk. For me it's a good example of where the speed ramping effects work really well in sync with the music.

10) It was always nice to see you on set, albeit fairly rarely, but you made an appearance in Series 1 and Series 2 (I think?). Would you ever want to be an actor?
I was the homeless guy at the beginning of episode 7. I have been hassling Victoria for a bigger part in series 2, and she kindly gave me one, but sadly I was nervous and arsed it up! So I may hit the cutting room floor. Oh the irony!

11) What was your happiest moment on Green Wing, and what was your saddest/most trying?
Happiest moment was meeting Tamsin as I've always fancied her rotten. Turns out she's married to a really nice bloke, damn! Most trying is always the last day before locking off a programme and you're still desperately trying to find a way of cutting it down to the required length.

12) What tools are crucial to you work and what if any luxuries do you have (like a gold-plated mouse)!?
I'm old enough to remember the days before Avid but I could never go back to cutting on film or tape, I'd rather be a plumber. Come to think of it, plumbers do all right don't they? As for luxuries, give me a bacon sarnie and a cappuccino and I'm yours forever.

13) For people that don't know, I'd say that there's a very fine line between Directing and Editing because they are very similar disciplines. Would you ever want to Direct?
I directed Billy Connolly's World Tour of New Zealand two years ago and that was a blast. There isn't an Editor I know who isn't a frustrated director, we've all got the T-shirt.

14) You're clearly a very talented chap, do you spend ages editing all your home movies?
Noooo way. I'm like the builder who's own house is falling down. My sister asked me to sort out her wedding video, I said I'd get around to it. That was over 10 years ago...

Billy Sneddon, Editor extraordinaire, thank you for your time.

Jonathan Green, designer to the Gods, you need to get out more. heh heh.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Crew Interview Number 1 - Finn Hopson

As promised, and a little later than I'd hoped (but then at least there'll be lots of fun things for all you GW fans to read now the series is over)

The first interview is with 3rd Assistant Director Finn Hopson (pictured in a photo with Mark Heap posted earlier)

1) What's your name and what was your job on Green Wing?

Finn Hopson.
3rd Assistant Director. Which means I spend my day on set with the 1st AD
and director. I direct the extras on set and liaise with the 2nd AD to make
sure we have all the right people in the right place at the right time.

2) It is fairly obvious just how integral and important every single job on the team
is. What do you think it was about Green Wing that produced such a
great team of cast and crew who all got on so well for so long?

It's a really funny show and I think everyone found something that they really liked about it. It was also a really long shoot on both series and when you spend that much time with the same people i guess you bond a bit. I certainly made a few good friends and that really makes the job more fun.
There was also a lack of big egos or people with very demanding personalities. The cast are all absolutely fantastic and very down to earth. From my point of view that was one of the best things about the shoot. Green Wing was challenging in that it was still being written during the shoot and things were liable to change at the last minute. I think it says a lot about the cast and crew that most of the time everyone still managed to work well together and we still managed to make a really funny series.
It was also fortunate that lots of the key people from the first series were able to return for the second, and those that were new also happened to be very good and fitted in really well with the way Green Wing works.

3) Your job is involves long hours, getting in before most and leaving after most. Did you still wake up in the mornings feeling excited to go to work?

In a word, no. I felt many things (tired, grumpy, bewildered, hungover, surprised, lost, cold, wet) but i don't think excitement was usually one of them. Having said that, when we were away from London and doing something a bit more unusual than the hospital locations, it did feel good to find yourself doing something slightly random each morning. Although I have had
to get up very early and travel a really long way to get to some of the Green Wing locations, we did visit some really great places and I often get to see them completely deserted at sunrise. Plus i could always feel smug in the knowledge that the Second assistant director Jon always generally had to travel about 50 miles more then me in the mornings as he lives on the
south coast. The crazy fool.

4) We all used to try to have a good laugh on set as well as getting on with the serious side of work. What was your funniest memory on GW?

Nothing made me laugh. I am the complete professional and remain dispassionate at all times. Plus it's very important to be quiet on set.
Actually it's really hard to think of one particular funniest moment. There were lots and lots of them. I remember finding Steve very funny in the operating theatre scene with all his keyboards. He spent ages working out which buttons to press and what bits of weird keyboard noise and tunes to use and it was a fantastic scene to watch. I also really liked his scene with the Jetski and the Swan. I was standing at the monitors just out of the shot and close to the action, and everyone watching was trying hard not to laugh out loud the first time he slapped the swan in the face. Tamsin has a ridiculously infectious laugh and whenever she cracks up half way through i scene, it tends to get everyone else going. There was one occasion on this
series where she collapsed onto Sue Whites office floor and just laughed for about ten minutes. I have no idea why but it was very funny. When we visited Basingstoke for the last time, everyone sat down together and watched "Team
America" and i have never heard anyone laugh as loudly and for as long as Tam did during that film. I also spent many hours in the camper van with Mark and Pippa, listening to their little improvised conversations in character and trying to pass on messages from Charlie the 1st AD whilst trying not to be clobbered on the head by everything rattling about in the back, or lying on the floor in the back to stay out of shot whilst mark swerved all over the road. It was like a big, terrifyingly surreal holiday.

5) You spend a lot of your time on set working with SA's (Supporting Artistes or Extras). What's that like?

Always interesting. SA's have a bit of an undeserved reputation for being a bit odd. We had over a thousand on Green Wing and the vast majority of them were very professional and did a great job, but there were also a few interesting characters and to be honest, a few who were just a bit rubbish. On a day to day basis, it was always much easier to set up the background action when the SA's were familiar with the location and had been in previously. Obviously as the shoot progressed, i saw lots more people coming back again and again and as we all got to know each other and they became familiar with what was required from them on each shot, the easier it became to set them into the action. Green Wing isn't shot in a very traditional way and this sometimes made things a bit easier for me because lots of scenes were shot in one long continuous take, and because we also never did things like a reverse angle on a scene or lots of different angles that would have meant tracking everyone's movements for precise continuity all over the room.
However, those long continuous tracking shots down corridors or 360 walks around the action could also be very challenging, particularly because they often took place in very large empty areas of a hospital and i had to find ways of making the most of our limited numbers of SA's. Fortunately most of the hospital locations are replete with sneaky little corridors and shortcuts so people can appear from all sorts of places, vanish down a corridor and appear again magically at the end of the scene. A bit of a cheat but I hope it kept it looking busy. The other odd thing on Green Wing is that there are several places that we film where the public play a large part in the background action. The main hospital corridor scenes are often completely full of real people (sometimes so full that we couldn't film at all) and on those occasions we just shot the cast in amongst the public and had no extras involved at all.

6) How did you start in the Industry and what was your first job?

My first job was as a runner on a Children's BBC show called "Crush". I kind of stumbled into it when a friend broke his wrist and needed an extra pair of hands on set to help him out. We spent a coupe of months touring the country with our set in a van, visiting primary schools and setting up a shoot in their school hall, spent the day herding children about and keeping everyone happy, then went out in a random town of an evening and had a drink with the crew. Perhaps this was good training for Green Wing.

7) What would you like to be doing 5 years down the line?

Touring the country in a camper van on a spin off series with Mark and Pippa. Or perhaps earning enough to drive a convertible red Audi TT with a personalised number plate. Roof down, cruising down the M3 to Basingstoke, wind rushing through my luscious long hair. Or perhaps that's just an impossible dream.

8) How did your experience on GW compare to other shows you've worked on?

I've been lucky enough to only do two really rubbish TV jobs so far and whenever Green Wing was being stressful and difficult, I could at least congratulate myself that i was no longer stuck on a canal boat with a hippy and his naked girlfriend somewhere near Leeds, trying to dislodge his boat from its position blocking the entire canal, where we had just crashed it.
I have worked on both series of Green Wing and have hung an ambulance off a cliff, set mark heap on fire, met a camel, seen CPR performed on a swan, seen Gomez dressed as a squirrel, played a gay doctor, seen Julian Rhind-Tutt naked, relearned the rules of hopscotch, played Guyball and been clubbing at the end of Eastbourne pier. No other job i have done has let me do these things and i don't think it ever will.

9) Your job also entails being a bit of a go-between, between artistes and Production. How important is it to be personable and diplomatic in your job?

I do spend quite a lot of my time being the messenger who gets shot, and that's never very fun. But people know that I'm just passing on information or requests and they are usually pretty good at starting their rants with the phrase "i know its not your fault but...". Actually, being stuck in between crew, production and artistes means that i can learn a lot about what everyone thinks about everyone else and how things are going, which can be a huge help when trying to be diplomatic and pass on difficult bits of information. The downside of this is that you are always trying to do a bit
of a balancing act between everyone and keep everyone as happy as possible, which is often not possible. I also have to spend a huge amount of time asking people to be quiet. I should have just had the phrase "quiet please" tattooed on my forehead. Not the nicest thing to have to do but a neccesary part of the job and one that's a bit easier if people like you.

10) When you're a big-shot Producer, will you remember me and give me a job?


11) What were your fondest memories of working on GW?

Kind of the same as the funniest moments really. One of my least favourite memories was with some cast and a very serious
need to get everything shot quickly. I had a megaphone to yell at the cast from a distance, a radio for talking to the support crew and sound man, a radio to the monitors and director, and the camera crew to pass information to next me. I had information coming at me from about 4 different people at once and found the whole thing incredibly stressful. Apparently I looked very funny though so that's ok.

My thanks to Finn for that great little interview which I'm sure you'll all find very interesting, and a great little insight into what goes on behind the scenes.

More interviews to follow shortly....

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Charity Memorabilia Auction

Green Wing Editor (extraordinaire) Billy Sneddon is auctioning off some amazing Green Wing costumes and signed scripts for charity.

Head on over to eBay, for a chance to own some exclusive Green Wing memorabilia, and also support the WWF.



Don't miss out!

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Guess The Desk No. 2

This one should be easier!

Guess The Desk No. 1

Probably too easy for all you clever fans....but see if you can guess who's desk this is?

Karen Out The Window

Here's a photo of Lucinda by her window....

Camper Van

Here are some pictures of the camper van stunt.

Cliff Hanger 2

Here are some photos from our second cliff hanger, filmed in September of last year.
The first few photos were taken at the start of my day...sunrise over Eastbourne and Seaford Head.
You can also see our little Production Village setup which travelled to every location.
Another special day on the set of Green Wing...

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Monday, May 01, 2006

Statham's Campaign Car

Sue White and 'Mac'

Mac's Clay Head

Here's a photo of the clay portrait head that I made of Julian.
5 years at Art School paid off on this job!

It was a really enjoyable thing to do, and a great opportunity to do something that I really miss doing.

There was a small little room inside the vast studio that we shot in, and whenever Julian wasn't on camera, and was able to spare some time, he'd come and sit for me whilst I sculpted his portrait.

The whole process only took about 6-8 hours, but spread over about a week or two, with Julian sitting for about an hour at a time.

I think I might have only had about 3 hours with Julian, the rest of the time I used photographs. Luckily, I got his likeness quite quickly. It isn't always that easy, and I was glad it worked out, especially as I haven't done a clay portrait head for about 15 years!