selected from shoot diaries spanning three decades

looking up

29th November 2013

‚ÄčNov 11th 2013

Work has finally begun on the ITV observational project about a leading London landmark and the insertion of a high-altitude hotel inside it.

As someone with an aversion to low-angle shots I began this first day of shooting with trepidation. I'm forever looking to shoot across rather than up and there's something about the vanishing point being up in the hot grey sky rather than over there towards the blue remembered hills that I think makes the image feel cheap. We don't tend to get down on the ground to look up, and I think shots should emulate the way people actually see things as much as possible. That's also why I hate mixes.

fresco-neck guaranteed
fresco-neck guaranteed

This edifice is so tall, however, there's little choice. DoP Andrew Muggleton, recordist David Harcombe and I have a change of plan from the start.The creators of the hotel and the owners of the building have suddenly disagreed about access, and my need to have it order to make a film that will help introduce the place to the nation. Our little band are therefore obliged to set off around London simply collecting long-distance images of the place. The view from ITV towers on the South Bank is perfect, as is one from way out along the Thames at a mudlarky sort of place that guests of the hotel will never visit.

across rather than up
across rather than up

The only problem with shooting the thing comes right outside. As we begin the low-angle, a senior person from security with a suit, a walkie talkie and some confusion about the rights of the photographer attempts to stop us filming. Where are we from? What are we doing? You can't film this building etc etc.

through the long, lunch looks even further away
through the long lens, lunch looks even further away

We have a little chat about the Met's guidance to both journalists and policemen, about the mistake of believing that just because it's expensive, an ordinary building should have the same sort of photo-veto rights as Madonna. We face this sort of nonsense so often now. Two years ago an insecurity man crossed the street to tell me I couldn't film the outside of a bank, and that they owned the pavement. I understand that military installations, police officers - except when they are wearing rouge and dancing at carnival -  and Buckingham Palace are off limits, but the rest is fair game. 

Order is eventually restored and shooting continues, but it's all most distressing.

One day we'll actually get inside. Or we'll be shooting the whole thing on a very long lens.