We’ve been very busy since our last blog….
With more filming set to take place this Friday (the 14th December), we’ve also had two other big filming days since the previous update.
The first was a location shoot that took place in St. Augustine’s Church in Birmingham (UK) a stunning church that made a perfect set-piece for the interior of Urakami Cathedral – the cathedral that was destroyed in the bombing, and whose spire was used to guide the B29 that dropped the bomb on that fateful day.
Once again, the supporting cast were incredibly patient and a joy to work with.
The second shoot was studio based and started with filming the infamous night that Professor Rudolf Peierls turned the theory of an atom bomb into a reality. To play the part of Peierls, British actor Roger Harding underwent a complete physical transformation thanks to the stunning work of our very talented make-up artist Vera Fenlon and her assistant Stephanie Bentham.
“Roger was such a great sport,” says director Ian Higgins, “we asked him if he’d be OK wearing contacts and he told us he’d never worn them before but was completely open to whatever we had in mind – which was a big relief as it was a pretty big make-up job that we had in mind!”
“The make-up looks amazing and Roger literally transformed into Rudolf Peierls before our eyes”, adds director Dominic Higgins.
The remaining first half of the day focused on scenes with the occupying American forces in the aftermath of the bombing, working with American actor Sid Phoenix and British actor Richard Grayson. “Both these guys were very strong actors and great fun to work with, but it was very much a case of knowing the moment we first saw them that they would be right for the roles we had in mind”, explains Ian.
“We first saw Sid in a short film and we knew he was the right actor to play the part of a character we had written – a young American officer who witnesses the devastation of the bombing and later argues to have Dr. Nagai’s seminal book, The Bells of Nagasaki published”, says Dominic.
These scenes also included a short scene with Kayano Nagai, Takashi’s daughter. “We’ve found the perfect little girl to play Kayano in 4 year old Anna Kimura,” points out Ian.
“We were a little apprehensive as it was her first scene and she’s had no previous experience in front of cameras, but Anna was such so relaxed in front of the camera, we got some great shots very easily,” says Dominic.
The entire second half of the day was given over to getting more shots for the bombing scene itself – with supporting cast members undergoing intensive make-up by Vera and Stephanie.
“Vera and Stephanie really helped bring the horror of that day to life again”, says Dominic.
We were joined on both shoots by, hair/make-up and film technician students from Birmingham and South College (UK). As always, the new crew were thrown straight into the deep end from day one – with the hair students getting to grips with period hairstyles for 30 extras.
“The students proved to be a credit to the college and we certainly look forward to welcoming more students to the upcoming shoots ahead”, says Ian.
We were also privileged to have Sir Doug Ellis OBE visit the set, he chatted to both students and production crew and shared some fascinating personal stories of his own experiences in the pacific during WW2. He also offered to make an incredibly generous donation towards the film! A huge thank you to Sir Doug!
The local press were also there, you can read all about it here.
Also once again, we’d like to say thank you to all who have been so generous during the course of this production, with our most recent crowd funding campaign those who donated have contributed to over half of the money we need. We couldn’t mention the crowd funding campaign without mentioning our great friend and honouree producer Frank Weathers for his very considerable part in helping us achieve the success we have. Thanks Frank!
After Friday’s shoot, we’ll have filmed almost all of the first half of the script which deals with the life of Dr. Nagai before the atomic bombing. Although much of the bombing sequence has now also been filmed, most of the drama scenes that take place during and after the bombing have not.
“It’s very exciting though to have almost reached the half way milestone!” Exclaims Dominic.
“The second half of the script is the really tough part, with so much of it dealing with the aftermath of the bombing and it’s devastation, so it’ll be nice to have a few days off over Christmas first.” says Ian.
Now it’s back to storyboards, shot lists and organizing, as we prepare to get more scenes in the bag this Friday!
Below are some stills from the last two days of shooting. All behind the scenes photos are courtesy of Phil Pugh.
St. Augustine’s church made a great set piece
Filming at St. Augustine’s church – Ian and Dominic explain what they’re looking for, while Joel gets the camera set up.
The impressive interior of St. Augustine’s church caught the eye of directors Ian & Dominic Higgins as an ideal location to film the Urakami Cathedral scenes.
Producer Joel Fletcher with crew member Dan Woodward
The supporting cast getting ready for a take
Ian setting up for a shot.
Producer Nigel Davey making sure everyone is happy.
Dominic gets the angle while Ian checks the lighting is just right.
Monica, by now an expert in fastening a Japanese Obi.
We were joined on both shoots by members of South and City Birmingham college.
Hair department, courtesy of South and City Birmingham college!
South and City Birmingham student Chris getting to grips with one of our cameras.
Make-up artist Stephanie Bentham making sure American actor Sid Phoenix is “camera ready”.
British Actor Richard Grayson on his way to the greenscreen studio.
British Actor Roger Harding just about to undergo his make-up transformation.
Make Up artist Vera at work.
Roger has one eye on the part – Roger with his first contact lens fitted.
Ian and Dominic getting the shot framed.
Ian and Roger enjoy a chat and a coffee.
Dominic setting up a shot.
Anna Kimura plays Takashi Nagai’s daughter. But first, she needed a change of hairstyle…
Anna getting her wig fitted.
Anna’s new hairstyle!
Ian checks Anna before her first scene.
Anna with actor Sid Phoenix on set .
Anna and Sid about to film a short scene.
Vera prepares Japanese actress Miwa Saeki.
Students from South and City Birmingham help our make-up artists. Singer/actor Charlie Green also joins the line up as we get ready to shoot more scenes from the day of the bombing.
Vera’s make-up work really brought the horrors of that day back to life.
One of the supporting cast in make-up.
Sir Doug Ellis OBE on set, with South and City college principle Mike Hopkins.