'Day Return' - Production Thread

AshleyWing Posts: 38
edited January 2012 in Practical Filmmaking
Day Return
7th January 2012
Ian is given a ticket to the seaside for his birthday - he isn’t sure if he will return. When he saves Lucy - a suicidal teenager - from drowning, a present is returned to him he thought he had lost - an appreciation of life. But can he convince Lucy that life is worth living, and was Lucy’s suicide attempt a cry for help or something more sinister?

'ere we go again...
It's been awhile since I've been in the position to draft up a post related to a production thread. Time to dust off that keyboard, wrangle the gear, pull out the contacts book and get set to shoot another short which will hopefully bring about our final goal to shoot a feature - sometime. We keep saying this, and yet here we are back in 'short film' territory.
Nothing to be sniffed at though, any completed film of any kind is testament and the sheer dedication involved by cast and crew should be admired. This is never the case as many people either, 1) don't care or, 2) understand. In some respects it's harder on a short because your budget restraints give off a carefree vibe - like it's just for fun. Well, fun for some, but for most it's hard work, and that can pay dividends with the end game/goal in sight.
Who, what, where, when, why?
The last time I shot a movie was in 2009 with Clayton Fussell under the production house, Cottage Industry Films. That movie was Robbing Peter and watching back the 'making of' footage I've linked brings back many fond, and frustrating, memories. We only had enough money for a two day shoot, and in hindsight we really needed three. Nonetheless we finished the film and the lessons we learned will be well executed on our next short titled 'Day Return'.

We are right at the very start of production - that means all we have is the script. The production thread will be updated regularly with photos and video clips - behind the scenes and some personal thoughts from myself and our team as we progress. The film itself will serve to be an ongoing progression in our film making, from the way we tell the story, and the content delivered. It will be a much more serious and darker tone to previous offerings, our intention is to draw our audience in to the characters and the situation, to hold interest not only through their actions but through their conversation.
We understand the rules of script and film, and some of these rules will walk the line, and we plan to spare people from being drawn into a drool of boredom as we fine tune and correct the script.
What's it all about?

To-do list
- Script breakdown/Budget shoot
- Location scout/Storyboard
- Organise audition space
These are the initial steps that will be taken over the next four weeks, with our shooting dates locked for the 20th to the 23rd of April. We will hold Auditions in central London and Exeter come the end of March, our shooting dates are penned over 4 days - 2 days principle and 2 days for pick up shoots and some nifty underwater setups.
Stylistically we're going to be looking for inspiration through Hitchcock's work and we already have Danny Cooke interested in coming on board as our DoP.
Danny's documentary and cinematography work has rightly earned him recognition as one of the most inspirational rising talents in the UK. We're stoked he wants to work with us.
Danny's work can be viewed through his Vimeo account - here are some of my personal favourites -
Ray: A Life Underwater
So for now, that's it. Until next time.
Ash & Clay


  • Great stuff Ash. Will be good to see you back in the directors chair :)
  • Cheers Justin. It's been awhile but very much looking forward to it. Here's to 2012!
  • Day Return UPDATE
    8th January 2012

    INTRODUCING DoP : Danny Cooke

    I normally wouldn't reply right away with an update but we just confirmed our DoP, Danny Cooke. I'm not always at the computer these days and therefore unsure when I would be able to post this! Apologies if it comes across a little 'spammy'.
    With Danny on board I honestly feel this will solidify everything we have been working towards on a quality controlled level visually. With all our previous films I felt there was always a compromise, that we missed the mark and never quite got a project out that was 100% collaborative. By this I mean we would hire a DP and they wouldn't get much involved until the shooting day, or just shy of it.
    More about Danny and his work can be viewed from his website here.
    Audition dates are locked although we need to book a venue. We will be auditioning actors in Exeter on Saturday 24th of March and in Central London on Saturday 31st of March.
    We are now sending out our casting call for our next short.
    ‘Day Return’ is a dark thriller set against the backdrop of the rugged Devon coastline. Drawing stylistic and cinematic inspiration from films such as Alfred Hitchcock's 'The Birds' and Steve McQueen's 'Hunger' it paints a portrait of life at the very edge - where the land meets the sea and where life and death feel almost the same.
    Ian is given a ticket to the seaside for his birthday - he isn't sure if he will return. When he saves Lucy, a suicidal teenager, from drowning - a present is returned to him he thought he had lost, an appreciation of life. But can he convince Lucy that life is worth living, and was Lucy's suicide attempt a cry for help or something more sinister?
    ‘Day Return’ will be filmed over the weekend of the 21st and 22nd of April in Brixham, Devon.
    We will be holding casting sessions in both Exeter (Sat 24th March) and London (Sat 31st March).
    We are now looking to cast the two lead roles:
    Playing age: 15-19
    A deeply troubled teenager. She has a nervous energy with an intensity beyond her years. She is a manipulative psychopath masked with the vulnerability of youth.
    Please note that you must be at least 18 years old to apply for this role.
    To apply please send your CV, photo and/or link to online showreel to [email protected]
    Please also state whether you would like to audition in London or Exeter.
    Playing age: 40-50
    On the outside he is calm and confident, warm and thoughtful - a natural father figure. These characteristics mask an inner turmoil. He has succumbed to the pressures of life and forgotten how to appreciate it - his depression making him suicidal.
    To apply please send your CV, photo and/or link to online showreel to [email protected]
    Please also state whether you would like to audition in London or Exeter.
    Due to the self funded nature of this project we can only cover expenses, including travel, food and accommodation (if required). On completion of the project all cast and crew will be provided with a DVD plus SD and HD mp4’s of the film. Should the film be in receipt of any monies after completion, these will be shared amongst the cast and crew (once production costs have been reimbursed).
  • Really interresting projet but unfortunately I am not in UK...
    looking forward !

    PS : for "addicted to TV" at 1:35 ( not very ecological,lol )
  • AshleyWing
    AshleyWing Posts: 38
    edited April 2012
    UPDATE: 02/04/2012
    Howdy one an' all. After a rather successful London audition process, pre-production seems to be whizzing along rather well. It was great to see the characters we created come to life off the page - and further more, to meet such a variety of talent.
    It was great to see how some of the actors interpreted our characters, and also scary. We are still going through the audition tapes and will finalise our cast selection tomorrow evening.
    All shooting locations, accommodation and catering has been booked. Our shooting dates are locked for the 21st and 22nd of April, with the 20th down as rehearsal. The 20th will also act as a good introduction for cast and crew to bond prior to the shoot.

    I have to admit, as far as actors go I think this is the best selection we have ever had for any of our films, so it's exciting to be taking it up a notch in that aspect. It's still a refining process, but one that has been of a higher quality which is encouraging. It's a fortuitous position to be in!
    Our crew are all accounted for and listed below. We have worked with the following in previous films over the years and again, we feel this is the finite selection for what we hope will be our team as we continue on to bigger projects.
    Cast list will be updated tomorrow evening.
    Writer/Director: Clayton Fussell & Ashley Wing
    Assistant Director: Elly Ward
    Director of Photography: Danny Cooke
    Camera Operator: Elliot G Montello
    Lighting: Tim Bevan
    Sound Recordist: Bennet Maples
    Make-Up: Sarah Jane Marks
    EPK: David James
  • MatthiasClaflin
    MatthiasClaflin Posts: 674 Just Starting Out
    Very excited to see what all happens in the coming weeks! I take it there will be some behind the scenes when you get to shooting?
  • SimonKJones
    SimonKJones Posts: 4,448 Enthusiast
    Haven't posted in this topic before, but I am reading it. Really looking forward to tracking this one. :)
  • AshleyWing
    AshleyWing Posts: 38
    edited April 2012
    UPDATE 04/04/2012
    We are happy to say our principle cast is finally confirmed. Hoorah!
    Ian will be played by Adrian Bouchet. Adrian's filmography includes a long list of short films and theatre work as well as bigger established films, such as, Alien Vs Predator and Clash of the Titans.
    We felt Ian brought a great intensity, which the role demanded and played a great dynamic against the character Lucy.
    Playing opposite in the role of Lucy will be Roberta Chappell. Roberta has appeared in TV dramas, 'Downton Abbey' and 'Life of Riley' and has further experience on several short films.
    Final cast below.
    Ian Adrian Bouchet
    Lucy Roberta Chappell
    Waitress Diana Townsend
    Stranger Stephen Fry

    Adrian Bouchet & Roberta Chappell
    [img]http://dl.dropbox.com/u/24764424/Adrian Bouchet.jpg[/img]
    [img] http://dl.dropbox.com/u/24764424/Roberta Chappell.jpg[/img]
  • SimonKJones
    SimonKJones Posts: 4,448 Enthusiast
    They both have a great look. Lots of character in those faces!
    Also: Stephen Fry?! ;)
  • [quote]Very excited to see what all happens in the coming weeks! I take it there will be some behind the scenes when you get to shooting?[/quote]
    Indeed we will! David James will be providing all the 'behind the scenes' footage for the project, much the same way he has since Between the Lines.
    [quote]Also: Stephen Fry?! ;)[/quote]
    Heh heh - indeed it is, THE, Stephen Fry. :)
    We'll post more updates soon and get some stills, and perhaps outtakes from the shoot.
  • MatthiasClaflin
    MatthiasClaflin Posts: 674 Just Starting Out
    Super excited to see what comes of this! Not really much else to say at this point. I'll echo Simon's comments, they do have a lot of character in those faces! Eager to see how this all turns out.
  • mercianfilm
    mercianfilm Posts: 161
    This looks great Ashley really looking forward to seeing how it all progresses- very intterested in your cast and crew- the crew especially looks good with some old faces from your previous work. I had the same reaction to Simon with Stephen fry! How did that come about? Thanks for keeping us updated, i'll continue to watch this topic!
  • AshleyWing
    AshleyWing Posts: 38
    edited April 2012
    UPDATE 22/04/2012
    We successfully wrapped today on time and on budget. In fact we were so efficient we managed to get some extra shots as a result!
    We are extremely happy with the performances and the camera work. We feel the crew on board for this project worked in perfect harmony and would definitely be suitable for our bigger and more and ambitious future projects. It has taken us five years of experimenting, sourcing and working with different crew to accomplish this important dynamic and it's very encouraging to finally have that locked.
    We'll upload some stills along with a making of at a later date.
  • AshleyWing
    AshleyWing Posts: 38
    edited April 2012
    UPDATE: 24/04/2012
    As promised here are some stills from our shoot. We have a short rest period for three weeks before editing begins, something both me and Clay can't wait to do. In the meantime we have finally decided to go ahead and start our first feature film.
    It's not a decision taken lightly as we want to do this right, and go through the correct channels. It may be we have to do it guerrilla style if all else fails, but we are being guided under the wings of some very generous people and for the time being we'll focus on our approach, market and story telling without compromise.
    We cross our fingers it amounts to something!
    On another note, our DoP, Danny Cooke has recently been shortlisted for the Vimeo Festival awards for his documentary work on 'Ray: A Life Under Water'. This is my personal favourite from his selection - maybe I'm biased as it's a close subject to my heart, and perhaps the fact that Danny is a good friend and colleague. But truth be told it stands on its own merits and has done extremely well regardless of what ever I say. The Vimeo awards has some excellent finalists in the running, so it's going to be a tough call to see where Danny's film comes in.
    The film can be viewed here on Vimeo:
    If you like it you can vote for it here: https://vimeo.com/awards/vote/documentary
    Happy viewing!
  • AshleyWing
    AshleyWing Posts: 38
    Howdy chaps,
    An update on our production.
    We took 4 weeks away from this project after wrapping, with that period now over the film has entered post, an assembly cut arriving soon. We'll polish this up with a scheduled final cut within the next 4-5 weeks. In the meantime we will have our behind the scenes footage complete by our EPK team and a new company website redesign, gearing up for our upcoming feature production. Good stuff!
    As always looking forward to getting this one out there, and we'll keep everyone up to speed.
    Every best wish,
    Ash & Clay
  • SimonKJones
    SimonKJones Posts: 4,448 Enthusiast
    Looking good Ash! I didn't get updates about your previous posts, for some reason, so only just saw those production stills. That cafe set looks very cramped - what was it like working in it?
  • AshleyWing
    AshleyWing Posts: 38
    It was fairly cramped but we scheduled everything in sections. The morning we used the back half as our make-up area while shooting everything we needed forward. We took advantage of what we had at the time and being well prepared was key in making sure we weren't stumbling over one another.
    And having 2 cameras helped with this scene. We had 7 pages to shoot in 6 hours - including setting up and dressing the location. Key crew were on set at 5 am to begin setting up. That was tough! A big bonus was we used the cafe itself to provide drinks, breakfast lunch and dinner throughout the entire shoot, cutting a deal with the manager. This really helped with convenience and team spirit, well fed cast and crew are a happy cast and crew, and without day rates it's worth every penny! )
  • SimonKJones
    SimonKJones Posts: 4,448 Enthusiast
    Yeah, we found on Arms Race Escalation that having 2 units and multiple cameras was a massive time saver. Without that I don't think we could have possibly fit it into the shooting schedule.
    I like the idea of shooting in a location that itself can provide all the catering. :D
  • Evening all,
    Happy to report we have a locked edit. Very proud of all involved - seeing it come together at a production level we've always wanted to accomplish, finally it's a dream come true. The performances feel natural and hopefully the film is a doorway to our next project.
    Really gave this one our all - minimal budget as always but really hit all the bars we wanted too.
    Next step is sound design with Bennet Maples and our colour grade. We're looking for a composer currently and plan to go though applicants in the morning.
    Seems like this production has been a long time going, with our 6 week edit hiatus, but finally back on track and now ready to move on. We plan to have 'Day Return' completed and out the door by the end of August.
    Every best wish,
    Ash & Clay
    Cottage Industry Films
  • AxelWilkinson
    AxelWilkinson Posts: 5,259 Staff
    I have somehow overlooked this for a long time, but came across the thread today and I must say, I'm looking forward to it! Based on all the info and images you have provided thus far, it seems like everything should come together really well on this one. Cottage Industries has always done a great job of creating productions which belie their minimal budget and are notable for their strong characters, and it looks like Day Return will be no exception.
    Really looking forward to it, Ash, and I hope all goes well with the feature!
  • Good morning Bank Holidayers.
    Well, in the UK anyway.
    We're only but a week away from having the culmination of our hard work come to fruition. It's been a nice project, between projects and it's one we're really proud of.
    Just a couple of tricky shots to finish colour grading and that's the bulk of the work complete.
    Score is being composed by Tony Higgins, due for completion by the end of next week. You can listen to some of Tony's work here: http://www.tonyhiggins.org
    Here's a couple of shots we graded over the week, due to the content of the movie we felt this approach was the most appropriate, encompassing a classic aesthetic within the style.
    Don't forget to 'like' our page if you would like to follow our musings :)http://www.facebook.com/cottageIndustryFilms
    Every best wish,
    Ash & Clay
  • I like the synopsis! And the BTS photos are great B-)

    They both have a great look. Lots of character in those faces!
    Also: Stephen Fry?! ;)
    That's what I was thinking!
  • AshleyWing
    AshleyWing Posts: 38
    edited September 2012
    Hey peeps,
    This weekend our Behind the Scenes was complete along with our poster. Thought I'd post them up. We're on the home stretch now. Last week of post. We had some vfx issues but resolved them after doing some DIY crash course techniques!
    Behind the scenes:

    [img]https://dl.dropbox.com/u/24764424/Day Return Poster.jpg[/img]
  • Evening all,
    Our penultimate update!
    We are exporting this Friday with 'Day Return' post work drawing to a close. We will be putting up a private screener for feedback, if peeps are interested please fire me a PM.
    We won't be putting the film publicly online yet as it will be doing the rounds at the festivals.
    More details about the film can be found from our official website and our behind the scenes video is in the post above.
  • Hi all,
    I got your PM's and will be sending you a link in the week.
    Thanks again,
    Ash and Clay
  • Howdy all,
    Well we have sent out some private screeners of our short and the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. The greatest compliment came from Roger Deakins who praised the film. For me that was the icing on the cake, and made all the hard work payoff. We have sent the short to a few high profile festivals world wide, and it'll need to get in to put in place our next plan of attack, our debut feature.
    We're writing like crazy to get something concrete on before christmas (the script, not the story), with a final spit and polish early in the new year. It's going to be a behemoth of a task, and may very well kill us. But we're determined to try, not half hearted, but giving it 100% with all the focus on story.
    We used Hitfilm as our blog for Day Return, with our feature we'll have a separate site but be sure to mirror it on here. I have been with Fxhome/Hitfilm since the days of my entry into filmmaking, and it wouldn't be the same heading into my first feature without talking about the experience here.
    The feature won't be vfx focused, but hopefully you won't hold that against me. :)
    Every best wish,
  • SimonKJones
    SimonKJones Posts: 4,448 Enthusiast
    Awesome stuff Ash! I know Deakins is something of a mini-mentor for you, so that must have been a real thrill.
    Look forward to seeing the film when it's released from the evil clutches of the festivals.
  • spydurhank
    spydurhank Posts: 3,193 Expert
    Wow!!! this is awesome!!! :D
  • AshleyWing
    AshleyWing Posts: 38
    edited October 2012
    Hey peeps,
    We did an interview with D&C Film, pasted below. Source: http://www.devon-cornwall-film.co.uk/2012/10/30/cottage-industry-films-presents-day-return/
    Thanks for all your kind words! It will come about soon, I promise. Just a couple of months. It'll feel overhyped by then, which is a worry.
    We're working like crazy on our feature, so if you wanna invest or got money to burn on high risk investments, keep your eyes peeled. Just when lfe isn't busy enough!
    Your new film Day Return – in a nutshell, what’s it about?
    Ultimately it is a story about the importance of taking responsibility for our own lives and not expecting other people to make us happy, or give our lives meaning.
    How did you guys come up with the idea?
    [Clayton:] It was just before my last birthday and I was thinking about what I wanted, and realised I didn’t really want anything in particular – more stuff. So I just thought about asking for a train ticket somewhere, to just go on a journey somewhere. On further reflection that seemed like quite a sad, lonely thing to do – and the idea of a man going to the seaside to take his own life emerged.
    From there it was a quick mental leap to imagining him being saved by witnessing another person’s attempted suicide, and from there the theme of responsibility emerged as he is forced to defend life – his own life – or have it taken from him.
    The film centers exclusively on the two central characters. How much of a challenge was it to find the right actors for the job?
    It was a really interesting process. We were acutely aware that this film would be very actor dependent and we planned to hold auditions in London and Exeter, but after failing to get even one suitable candidate for the Exeter audition, we were forced to audition only in London. We were really lucky with the guys, finding two people who could have played Ian. Both really great actors, but both very different, and would have taken the character in very different directions.
    The real challenge was finding the right girl to play Lucy. Lucy is an intense character, and it was vital to find the correct balance of vulnerability and edginess. The first round of auditions proved fruitless so we had to hold a second set of auditions. In actual fact, Roberta, who we ultimately cast, applied to audition, but her email was lost in the sea of applications, and so on the day of the auditions we thought she wasn’t going to turn up.
    Luckily she called us and we arranged an audition later in the week. In fact we found two girls through that second round of auditions who were really strong, and in the end it came down to matching the two characters. We agonised over the decision for a couple of days constantly reviewing the audition tapes, and going back to our ideas of the characters until we settled on Roberta and Adrian.
    You shot the film in Brixham. How does the location add to the mood of the piece?
    The location became a massive part of the story, in a way becoming the third character in the film. The breakwater is a naturally dramatic location, and having access to the Breakwater Bistro that overlooks the breakwater was a real godsend, and the owners and manager were fantastic.
    The film deals with a very sensitive subject. Was that a challenge to script?
    Dealing with subject matter like suicide is always challenging and you have to be mindful of that. In a way, we tried not to focus too much on the suicide per-se, but concentrate on the verbal joust between the two characters and their radically different perspectives on life.
    All of the films that you’ve done, including this one, seem to find a core of humanity at the center of the drama. Are character and story the most essential things when it comes to making a film?
    Absolutely. People relate to other people and the thing we love more than anything is exploring the idiosyncrasies that exist in normal people. At the same time, people are at their most interesting, and their most entertaining, when they are placed in extraordinary situations, and so our other great pleasure when writing is getting in our characters shoes and going on that journey with them. Throwing the hurdles in their way and imagining how they could jump them, or what happens if they don’t.
    I understand that acclaimed cinematographer Roger Deakins complimented you both on the film. How does that feel?
    It was amazing to get such a great message from someone so well-respected – and a personal hero of ours. He has tracked our progress ever since we did ‘A Hard Day’s Knight’ and has always been brutally honest with us, so for him to say that he admired what we were doing and really liked ‘Day Return’ was very special to us.
    Where does Day Return go from here?
    Festivals, festivals, festivals! Basically we are aiming high and seeing where we can get it. We have already submitted it to Clement Ferrand in France, and the Berlin International Film Festival. We have deadlines for Aspen, Edinburgh and Tampere in December and then on into next year we will have London, Venice, Toronto etc etc etc. It is a really important part of our strategy for our Debut feature that ‘Day Return’ does well so all our fingers are crossed.