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The making of DAYLIGHT

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At BIAFF 2012 Rochdale Moviemakers won  a 5 Star Award and Best Entry from an Affiliated Club with Daylight written and directed by Tommy O'Connor.

Watch Daylight here.

Why is life so hard?

Writing and Concept

Beginning to write a new film is always a difficult process. I often find myself writing ideas, scribbling through them and then tossing them towards the bin in the corner of the room - usually missing the target just as I had done with the idea.

But as summer poured down on me last May so did my good friend Danny, who had just been to his 19th job interview in two months. He told me how the job interviews went, how his car had broken down and also how his girlfriend had accidentally killed his pet turtle Steve.

At this point he asked me: "Why is life so hard?" I didn't reply but continued to look at the bin surrounded by paper. He then said jokingly "I'd kill myself, but that would probably be hard work!" At this point my brain went into overdrive and picking up the pen from the table I began to write what became Daylight - a film about a man trying to commit suicide but it doesn't quite go to plan.

This time the writing process was straightforward. I tried to focus on very simple visual moments as opposed to having a lot of dialogue. I added touches of humour to allowing the actor to pump up his performance on the shoot.

In all it took around a week for me to get this film to a point I was happy with, while still leaving room for manoeuvre on the day. So we very quickly arranged the actors and crew through the club and set a date for the shoot in the heart of Rochdale on a day forecast to be sunny. How naive of us to trust the weather girls!

The Shoot

We arrived on set at 9.30am in the middle of the Rochdale Hills. It was a glorious day, with sun shining upon us and not a dark cloud in the sky. As director, I went over certain aspects of the script and his notes with the main actor Garry Hayden. Our sound man John Bracewell prepared his boompole, whilst long standing clapperboard artist Barbara Jones lapped up the sunshine. Our next job was to block each scene we were going to shoot. We ran the film in order of the script so it made life very simple. We began with shooting the first scene which is all inside of the car and had no issue. However, as our actor then stepped out of the car a very large black rain cloud appeared almost from nowhere. Our behind-the-scenes guy Graham Morris muttered the soon-to-be-famous last words "It will pass over."

Within seconds of this statement, the heavens opened and down came a torrential downpour. All equipment was rapidly packed up and thrown into the back of multiple cars, and then the cast and crew dived - all into a Vauxhall Corsa! The rain continued to pour for around 10 minutes, during which time six people were crammed into the back of the 1.2 three door. As the thought of rescheduling the shoot came to mind, out came the sun once more to brighten our day in more ways than one, meaning we could resume filming.

This however was not a one off shower. Throughout the day the rain continued to pour in sporadic form. We worked with 20 minutes of sunshine and 10 minutes of rain during every hour. This meant that most of our energy was spent leaping in and out of vehicles to shelter from the rain. This is apparent on the finished film where we see the sun shining upon the car at the same time as water trickles along its doors.

Given the weather issues the shoot ran incredibly easily. The performances of Garry Hayden and Lynsey Wright were absolutely perfect. As was the work of the crew, who kept up the energy in spite of shocking weather!

The Edit

Next, the film went into the edit suite where everything went so smoothly that it was constructed within a day or two - with colour correction to follow. I actually spent more time trying to find the right piece of music for each segment than editing the film. The speed of the shoot and the edit give the film a feeling of freshness. I still enjoy watching it again with someone new. It really hit the spot in terms of what I as a director want to create in film. Who would have thought the recession would inspire such an uplifting story after all?
      Rain on wndows.

Climbing out.

Walk for petrol.

Last cigarette.


Opening title.


Tommy O'Connor
Rochdale Moviemakers
July 2012

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