It’s been a very busy and eventual few months since camera’s started rolling on our feature film biopic of WW2 fighter Ace Wing Commander Brendan Finucane, better known as “Spitfire Paddy”.
We’ve very pleased to now be working alongside 101 Films International and Amcomri Entertainment, who bring with them an excellent track record of finding the right market for films.
Due to location availability and other factors, we decided we would shoot the film in series of “blocks” starting at the end of May and continuing until January or February, with each block consisting of 2-4 days of shooting scenes.
We also decided to shoot the film sequentially, as much as possible. So, the first block involved all the scenes of Brendan’s early life – from his boyhood days in Ireland to moving to London and his first job as an accountant.
The main advantage of filming in blocks, from a film-making perspective, is that it allows us the chance to re-group and do any pick-up shots if we feel it’s needed in a scene and it also means we can keep on top of all the editing, FX work and colour grading.
July the 15th marked the first day of block two, which included scenes where the young adult Brendan Finucane makes the decision to join the RAF. It also marked the 80th anniversary of the real Brendan’s passing.
Joining Shane O’Regan on the cast front was Elliot Cable, Jason Adam and Caitlin Cameron.
For one of the scenes to be filmed, the setting was a 1940s English pub. After searching around and exploring different options, we came across a fully functional 1940s style mobile “pop-up pub” called The Wheatsheaf
Owned by Mike Smith and Allan Price who spent a year building it, the pub is usually booked out for various events around the country.
But for us it meant rather than having to transport cast and crew to a location, we could arrange for a historically accurate pub to come to us!
Mike and Allan also stepped in front of the camera in small cameo roles.
In the evening, cast and crew relocated to nearby Cooper’s Hill Farm, a location we had used before, when shooting our feature film ALL THAT REMAINS. Last time it doubled up as Nagasaki, this time it was Southampton after a bombing raid.
The last day of block two was one of the hottest days of the year, with temperatures reaching 37 degrees. But luckily for us, we were filming inside an old church, which proved to be a very cool environment to work in.
The church in question was the beautifully picturesque St Mary the Virgin, Hanbury. We couldn’t have been made to feel more welcome and Judy, the church warden, went out of her way to accommodate us.
Actor Charles O’Neil stepped into the role of Fr. Byrne, confidant and spiritual advisor to Brendan and turned out a great performance!
Kicking of our next filming block was a bare-knuckle fight scene between actors Shane O’Regan and Jason Adam. Joining us on set, to help choreograph the fight, was former WBC world champion and Olympic boxing coach Richie Woodhall.
As well as helping us to stage a great looking fight scene, Richie stepped in front of the camera for a small cameo.
We shot the scene on the spectacular grounds of The Firs Weddings and Events – Sarah and the team there were so supportive and helpful, making for a very enjoyable day.
Next, we relocated to The Peckwood Centre, a residential centre set in 19 acres of beautiful ancient woodland in the North Worcestershire countryside, where we were joined by actor Carl Wharton once again.
For the final day of this block, we were back at The Firs, this time doubling as hospital grounds.
Joining us on the cast front was Sophia Eleni, who turned in a wonderful performance as Nurse Grace.
Again, the weather was on our side and we had a beautiful sunny day at an amazing location.
On all days of the shoot, our hair and make-up team did an outstanding job, but this day was their biggest challenge by far. Not only did we need historically accurate period hairstyles for all our actors, as mentioned above, we also needed a badly disfigured burns victim.
As always everyone did a great job and we got another good scene in the bag!
Huge thank you to Sarah and the folk at the Firs Wedding and Events Venue, Mike Smith, Allan Price, Hillscourt hotel, Old Rose and Crown Hotel, Coopers Hill Farm, Ashdown Military Camp, The Peckwood Centre and to Judy from St Mary the Virgin, Hanbury.