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Midlands Feature - On the set of Acid Daemons in Leicester

By midlandsmovies, Feb 16 2016 10:37AM

Midlands Movies headed down to a secret studio in Leicester to see the shooting of new horror Acid Daemons, the latest feature from Rhys Davies and his Hive Films production company. With the shoot well underway and the set buzzing with the clamour of a busy cast and crew, Midlands Movies editor Mike Sales was invited to experience a day on set with this ambitious local project.

Well, with free reign to interview its cast, crew and stars I was very happy to make the most of the opportunity to hear further details about Acid Daemons. Welcoming me onto the set, the crew had a small but impressive living room and kitchen location they had created which enabled them to control all aspects of today’s production. As a shot came was about to start and the call of “quiet please” echoing in the building, I got my first experience of local filmmaking on the ground. A hushed set watched as the two leads put in a remarkable and stirring performance in a film that focuses on a new drug that could be unlocking vivid and often sensual visions from another world.

With a call of “cut” the scene ended and rather than interrupting the flow of director Rhys Davies and the cast, I spoke with the lovely Rachel Robertson who is the film’s production manager about the lead-up to today’s studio filming.

MM: Hi Rachel. How did you come to hear about this new Leicester project?

RR: Hiya. Well, I got involved 8 months ago and have now worked with Rhys on 3 projects. He was looking for someone to help with the day-to-day things and my background in corporate and short films has helped me a lot. We’ve been working really hard on Acid Daemons since July last year now.

MM: How did the script and cast come about?

RR: Rhys has worked on the script for 4 years with writer Rod Duncan and eventually we went to the Nottingham TV Workshop before Christmas which is where we got most of our leads including Ella, Jack and Terry. Then we’ve done more casting back here in Leicester. I’ve also helped with location scouting, as well as working to get funding together but that has been very difficult.

MM: And once the film is finished are there plans after?

RR: Once post-production is complete Rhys is looking for distribution then going down the festival route but we’ve got to get there first.

MM: And the shoot has gone well so far?

RR: Yes. The shoot is going really well and my job is to help out with creative ‘problem-solving’. Because of its small budget people cannot commit to the times we would like them to sometimes but my role is to shift things around to resolve that. (As if on cue camera operator Mbili Munthali enters the room to search for a missing battery charger).

MM: Like that?

RR: Ha ha. Exactly. They can be major stumbling blocks but everyone has tried their hardest when they’ve been here and we’re exactly on schedule and shot everything we’ve needed so far. Rhys is happy and we’ve planned for an 11 day shoot which is due to finish at the end of February. We’ve even just received some amazing art work right now (Valentines Day) from local designer Ross Underwood.

MM: Thank you Rachel.

With a great introduction to the project I then wander across the set to speak to one of two assistant directors (and old friend of Midlands Movies) Doug Cubin.

MM: Hi Doug. How has the day gone on set so far?

DC: This morning went really well and we’re halfway through the day and on time which is great. The filming as a whole has been split into two and this is part of the first tranche of a two-part shoot. Everybody is so busy on lots of different projects as you know, so putting it into bite-sized chunks means we can keep it all on course. This is my first day on set and then I’ll be assisting for another two days next weekend.

MM: Cheers Doug.

It appeared today was a relatively incident free day on set allowing the actors to focus on their performances and the crew to pay attention to setting up and get shooting efficiently. However, a more difficult set-up was planned for the afternoon involving the lead actress (Ella Roebuck-Swain) being dragged away by people unknown. On set for this sequence was up and coming stuntman-in-training Paul Ginns who has recently assisted with stunt work on big name films such as Age of Ultron and The Man from UNCLE.

MM: Afternoon Paul. Can you tell me a little about how you came to be involved in this project?

PG: Well, I met Patrick Waggett (one of the other assistant directors) on the set of The Man from UNCLE in London and he said he needed some help with some stunt work he was doing on a smaller production in the Midlands region.

MM: Are you from the area?

PG: Yes, I’m born and bred in Leicester so it worked really well that the both of us are local.

MM: And what about the sequence you are to be involved with later?

PG: I’m due on set this afternoon as there is a small scene where a character gets dragged into the corner of a room. The walls of the set come apart so there’s plenty to sort out and we’ll use plenty of padding for the actress. We have to ensure the health and safety of the actors and that is the most important thing.

MM: Has there been any times where that’s been pushed to the limits?

PG: Not particularly but in the past I have been in a few hairy situations. On the set of one blockbuster film that came out in 2015, I was 20ft up on a dangerous zip-line and the only thing preventing me from having an accident was a 60-year old man holding onto my trouser leg. Not the most comforting! There was also a moment on a certain huge sci-fi franchise about to be released that I cannot talk about (MM Editor Mike – hmmmm what could that be?) where there was an explosion and a piece of shrapnel ended up between my legs. This big piece of metal fell just a foot away from my groin!

MM: Wow. Finally, have you enjoyed your experience on this production so far?

PG: Absolutely. Although this is one of the first jobs I have had in Leicester it’s great to do something local. Another bonus is that it is nice to not have to travel 2 hours to get to Pinewood but seriously, it’s been really nice to see such a determined crew do a production such as this in my hometown of Leicester.

A fantastic story from one of the fantastic cast and crew. In the longer break of a much needed lunch I had the honour to speak to one of the other actors on set today - Jon Campling. Jon is playing an eccentric character in Acid Daemons but has great experience in unconventional roles having being cast as one of the Death Eaters in the Harry Potter franchise.

Click here to read my interview with Jon Campling in part two….

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