This month, my guest blogger is the Writer and Director of short film “The Penny Dropped” – AD Cooper

Just finding somewhere to shoot a night scene was very tricky. It had to be really dark because no one wants to work all night especially on a short film where the budget is tight. Only two suggestions emerged – one was a basement under a community centre in Hanwell over near Ealing while the other was a bunker in Dalston, London E8, that had been used as an air raid shelter in World War 2.  

The bunker recce revealed a dank cavern of solid concrete down a couple of dozen steps. Moisture hung in the torch beams diffusing the light. There was the added bonus that there would no need for any set dressing to make it look grotty, and right outside was a pop-up bakery that exuded distracting wafts of freshly-baked bread all day long. Above all, it was solid dark down there with no light sneaking in anywhere.

The rest of the production team agreed it was ideal for our supernatural shoot. A mass of torches were rounded up to help the crew set up, and stout footwear was vital with the pooled rainwater and years of collected gloop on the concrete floors. 

During shoot days, anything that fell on the floor got soaked and was often ruined. Paper scripts and schedules went quietly limp in a couple of hours due to the damp. And whilst the bunker maintained a steady comfortable temperature, it was easy to forget the scorching late summer weather upstairs.

The bunker’s only negative was that it wasn’t sound proof, and many shots were halted by the arrival and departure of lorries collecting and delivering skips, rubbish and more. Still the shoot was a success even if the schedule went AWOL, and post production is well underway.  

A D Cooper  Writer & director

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