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Filming Dracula On Demand with Sodium – Andrew Quick

2nd December 2021 by Morven Macbeth

‘Making films is very different to making theatre.  The camera rules and, of course, everything happens in the edit.  And yet ITD has been obsessed with cinema from the moment we formed the company back in 1998. So, the idea of working with Sodium Films to create a pay-to-view version of Dracula: the Untold Story was always going to be an exciting prospect – I mean, this is what we have been secretly working towards for years: making movies.

It was also a relief to hand over the reins for a while and let the Sodium team just get on with what they do.  I loved being able to sit back and watch the takes unfolding on the camera monitors in the auditorium: close-ups, shots from angles that the audience never gets to see the action from, a focus on the actors work that is lost a little in the play of images that dominates the live production.  I’m looking at our work from a distinct and fresh perspective.  Seeing it with different eyes as it were.  It’s exciting and helps us a great deal in the final days of putting the show together. This is a creative jolt, not the machinic chore that I predicted.

And the footage that I am watching is lovely to look at.  Phil Barber directs with a quiet authority, cameras operated by Denmarc Creary, Tom Box and Oli Jameson are moved with great skill and efficiency.  It is all done at speed, take after take after take and I realise that whilst this filming is taking place the show is solidifying before us.  A process is being doubled – filming and rehearsing – because all this is occurring three days before we are due to open at Leeds Playhouse.  A time of great pressure and distraction.

A week later we’re back in Leeds Playhouse recording our ‘Extra Bites’, the kind of video extras you get when you buy DVDs – here the performers are speaking of their experience of the characters they are playing and so forth.  Again, it’s all done at pace.  Always measured and quietly put together.

What’s interesting about film is the wait you endure before you see the final edit.  Theatre is more spontaneous – you quickly see the results of your making process and you can immediately keep and discard material in the rehearsal room.  But the wait is worth it.  The results are great.  There’s a sensitivity to the theatricality of the piece with a clever mix of wide and close-ups that capture the rhythm of the live performance.  The images are beautifully framed, the work of the actors captured with sensitivity, the pace of the original sutured in cinematic and documentary form.

Our work is always concerned with the relationship between content and form – the form has to be connected to the concerns we are exploring.  What I love about the work that Sodium produced is the fact that this is also its focus. The cinematic, the graphical, the theatrical is re-worked through these films in complex and dynamic ways.  This does not happen very often.  Maybe we need to bring Sodium into the last week of every production we work on.’

Andrew Quick

Dec 2021

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