Wednesday, 11 July 2018

The first day of shooting

Yesterday was gruelling, uplifting, hectic, moving, hysterical and occasionally, even restful.

At 10am, a small film crew arrived at Maureen Lipman’s house to film the first of our 100 Faces. She was a delight. An absolute charmer. Graceful. Warm. She’d written a wonderful mini-poem for her 7-second slot in the film, and delivered it, perfectly, in one take. She asked to have a quick look at what we’d filmed and when we played it back in the monitor, she said, “well, I think that’s a lovely shot... of my begonia!” She was right! We altered the shot and did another take!

The rest of the day sailed past in a whirl. I can’t help but think we’ve entered an episode of Challenge Anneka where the stakes see incredibly high and, instead of the ludicrous fake jeopardy you get with modern-day documentaries, we’ve got the toe-twitching, face-gnawing real deal! Already this week I’ve lost 3 of my faces. One went into hospital. One poor lass lost her uncle. One bloke told me he couldn’t be certain that he wasn’t going to be “recouperating”  on the filming day, so wasn’t prepared to commit to it, having committed to it. (Seriously!) We offered him another filming date (today) and, last night, he sent an email to say that “for personal reasons” he can’t now do that.

What was joyous about yesterday is that everyone we expected to film either turned up, or was in when we turned up, and, despite being already half an hour behind schedule before lunch, we caught up and finished the day ahead of time with a happy crew who’d even managed to sit down in a cafe for lunch.

Our second face was the incomparable “frum” comedian, Ashley Blaker, who schlepped down to Highgate to film his sequence in front of my mantelpiece. His response to the question “what does being Jewish mean to you?” was suitably witty and brilliantly delivered.

Faces three and four were in Highgate and Muswell Hill respectively. One sat on the balcony of his house and answered his question in Yiddish. The other’s response was political and delivered in front of a massive book case. He faltered a few times, 28 times to be exact, but we got there in the end. He has a wonderful face.

Next up was 80s club host and great friend, Philip Sallon and his sister Ruth. We filmed Ruth in her studio. She’d just finished work on a statue which she felt entirely summed up what she was saying, so we filmed them together! 

Philip was, as expected, utterly insane. To warm up for his six second cameo, he sang a song and made about ninety quick-witted quips. He opted to be filmed half naked wearing only a loin cloth with a Star of David attached!

Probably the most striking clash of worlds came in the form of Philip meeting the wonderfully dignified Steven, a Holocaust survivor and our seventh face, who, I’m quite sure had never encountered anyone like Philip before. Philip told Steven what to wear and told him to change what he was planning to say which made Steven incredibly tense. It came from the right place and because we weren’t running behind, it stayed amusing. I think it was only when Steven realised he could tell Philip to shut up that he found him anything other than terrifying!

Ruth gave us tea and biscuits before we headed off to Alexandra Palace for faces eight, nine, ten and eleven: a quirky, brilliant-minded school boy, a stunningly beautiful actress called Gabriella, Brass family member, and wonderful singer, Jack Reitman and the chairman of UK Jewish film, whose response to the question was particularly moving.

And that was that. Laura from Ally Pally looked after us incredibly well. I genuinely feel that our getting married there has made us part of the story of the building some how. When I first moved to London, I lived in a horrifying bedsit which had an incredible view up the hill to the palace. Back then I decided it was the most beautiful building in London. It’s certainly played a large part in my life.

I came home and had a bath because I couldn’t actually do anything else!

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