Phoebe's First Christmas - Filming! By Lucy Hutchison
We arrived for day one of filming at the brilliant Camberwell Film Studios. The fantastic team of Angus, Dominic and Varun were so welcoming and talked us through our filming schedule. We had a lot to shoot, and lots of different angles to get, so we had a lot to crack on with! The plan was to shoot out of sequence so we could get all the shots we needed with the same camera setup, the same costumes and the same set and props and then move onto the next scenario.
Claire was on set, keeping us right with character notes, lines, and intention of each shot, and most importantly made us all feel supported and calm! Katie was busy with make up, costumes and props: powdering our noses made us feel a tinnnyy bit like movies stars! (Harry particularly liked having his fur slicked back and hair sprayed!) Sue made sure the music cues were on time and that we all sang over the tracks we had recorded to make sure the energy was captured in the moment! Chris was on the look out for the puppets characteristics and eyelines, making sure they were always looking straight down the lens or at another character. It was sometimes tricky for Elliot and Cecily to see properly, as often they were hidden from the camera, so Chris was a very helpful pair of eyes (and has a huge wealth of puppet expertise!)
As Elf, I was using some Key word signing to communicate so it was important for me to make sure I was clear and that the audience would be able to understand every sign. If it was a close up shot, sometimes I had to make my signs a bit smaller and if it was a long shot I could be as big and bold as I liked! Cecily and Elliot were absolute heroes, as being on set holding a puppet above your head for a long time can get very sore on the shoulders as you can imagine! They are both full of professionalism, humour and UNBELIEVABLE talent and with Katie rushing in with sips of water and everyone being incredibly supportive, they powered on and got some amazingly detailed shots! Katie and Sue also both worked the puppets on a couple of the shots where all the puppets were featured and that was lots of fun - working together as one big super group!
My favourite scene to shoot was “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” as it involved Elf helping Harry to show Phoebe how to make a figgy pudding! Flour, cinnamon, and raisons flying around (and covering Katie and Claire, who were passing the ingredients from beneath the camera!) was absolutely hilarious and I can’t wait to see the final edit!
On day two we continued shooting, and had got into the rhythm and swing of it! I was lucky enough to dress up as Santa and boogie about being very silly which I absolutely LOVED! We had quite a few solo shots on day two, where each of us would sing through and do the movements for a whole song, a couple of times, for different angles and then we moved on to the next character. As Cecily and Elliot both voice two of the characters, sometimes they were having conversations with themselves! It was amazing to watch them both switch accents and characters so seamlessly!
We all took our time to ensure that each shot we had was the best it could be, sometimes we had a 'one-take wonder' and sometimes it took a little longer, but in the end we all had the same goal of wanting to tell the gorgeous story clearly, and with as much heart, fun and joy as possible, so that many children and families can enjoy it this Christmas! We all pulled together to make it happen and were definitely one big DREAM TEAM! We celebrated wrapping with cake and bubbles for the whole team... perfect!
The filming days were so much fun and we are all so proud already of “Phoebe's First Christmas!” We can’t wait for all of you to see it!