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The making of Still Falling

To BIAFF 2014 results | To Full Making Of Index |

At BIAFF 2014 Sean Nelis & Dominic Aitken won  a Diamond award for Still Falling .

The film makers at BIAFF 2014.
Laura Williamson, Dominic Aitken,
Natalie Wilmot and Sean Nelis at BIAFF 2014
To tell the story of 'Still Falling' it is best to begin with the story of the group that made it. Paternoster Productions began life in 2011, as an idea conceived and named by Dominic Aitken. The group consisted of a group of twenty-something year old friends with a passion for film, but with no experience in the making of films.

The first short produced by Paternoster was called Chasing My Tail, a pessimistic look at the nature of relationships. Written by Al Aitken, directed by Al & Dominic Aitken and produced by Sean Nelis, it was our first experience in making a film. We began teaching ourselves every skill necessary from pre-production to post production, casting to editing. We were happy with the end product, but came away with the knowledge that we could make an even better film next time.

The second short, Praying to Janus, was a bleak look at the ability to change our lives and the inevitability that our journey can take on. Written by Dominic Aitken, directed by Dominic Aitken and Sean Nelis, and produced by Sean Nelis. During this project we took on some new members and lost others, but developed our filmmaking even further, especially due to some of the more difficult scenes to film and due to having tighter restrictions on time due to filming in an office space.

Our third short, which we want to talk about here, is called Still Falling. A story which begins with a man going to a rooftop in order to end his life, and well we wouldn't want to spoil it…

Still Falling was written by Sean Nelis at the same time as Dominic was writing Praying to Janus. Well at least the first draft was. Further drafts were written post-Janus in such locations as a house in Chesterfield, a rooftop in Barcelona and a trading estate near Wakefield, to various backing music including the 'Garden State' soundtrack, Lana Del Rey and My Chemical Romance…

The original image that inspired the story of Still Falling came from the season 3 finale of the TV show Lost. A man standing on the edge of a bridge, all hope gone, is about to jump when a car crash stops him.

It was a powerful image, and one that initiated the story of Still Falling. It was from there that it was decided that the event that would stop our protagonist would be a woman up there for the same purpose and from there thinking began on reasons for them both to be up there, wanting her reason to be more damning than his, wanting her fate to be sealed but for there to be possible hope in his story.

Once the initial couple of drafts were complete, Sean and Dominic began meeting at least two times a week to start planning the shoot.

One of the first hurdles to get over was the rooftop location. A location that was obviously integral to the story, but a location that was harder than you might think to find. Phone calls and emails were made, but one of two things usually happened; either there was no response, or we were quoted an extortionate fee for shooting for a few hours.

Luckily we were saved by the generosity of The Workstation in Sheffield, allowing us to shoot atop the Showroom Cinema, as long as we paid a member of their staff minimum wage for the duration of the filming, and on the condition that we bought public liability insurance to comply with health and safety whilst filing on their property. We agreed, and whilst this set us back in total approximately £250, it was a decision necessary and one that proved worth it.

Still from Still Falling.
Still from Still Falling. The first call when it came to casting was to Nic Bowden. We'd worked with him before on Praying to Janus and thought he'd be great for the part of Jack.

The next step was to send out a casting call for the role of Claire. We were very lucky to get a great response, and even luckier that one of the responders was Jennifer Suter.

The months of pre-production involved a lot of meetings, at least twice weekly. Covering everything from test-shoots, getting all our shots planned and decided on, to rehearsing with the cast.

We were fortunate come the weekend of the shoot, the rooftop shoot coinciding with the sunniest day of the year, giving us a full day of filming without waiting out rain or clouds.

The next few months were dedicated to post-production. This involved ADR (where the original actors re-record and synchronise audio segments), the visual edit, the sound edit and finding an excellent composer all of which took time, but we feel was worth the loving and detailed attention that was given to each aspect.

The Team:
Sean Nelis - Script Writer, Co-Director, Editor. Original Paternoster Productions member.
Dominic Aitken - Co-Director, Producer, Editor. Paternoster Productions founder. Co-Director of Photography and camera operator.
Benjamin Squires - Composer (extraordinaire)
Craig Hill - Co-Director of Photography and camera operator.
James Nelis - Boom Operator (and part time homeless man)
Natalie Wilmot - Production Coordinator (and occasional voice on the phone)
Laura Williamson - Script supervisor, production designer (and generous lender of flat-er)
Martin Williams - Sound Recordist. Original Paternoster Productions Member but no longer with the group.

Sean Nelis
April 2014

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