Paranormal Activity: Our Ghostly Silence Explained, & Our Work On Horror Feature Film “Passengers”

It’s been like Tumbleweed City around here lately. As you may have gathered, the wind has been whistling through the trees, distantly church bells ring mournfully and small clumps of desert grass waft lazily across the dusty boulevards that constitute Studio 279. Basically, nothing doing. Well, in fact, this would be a gross oversimplification and vicious slander, you’ll-be-hearing-from-our-lawyers, e.t.c. We’ve been doing plenty, thank you kindly, but sadly, we have had little time to divert to our own cherished projects as we have been busy working for The Man (and, in the interests of gender equality and accuracy, The Woman, too). So, in the interests of transparency, we are breaking our accidental omerta to tell you how exactly we have been filling our time of late rather than communicating with you, our dear readers…

Ultimately, it boils down to this: running. Lots and lots of running. Sadly, we are not superhuman athletes who can complete miles in four minutes or marathons in a tea break. We are instead, runners in the media sense. Lately our time has been taken up with a large number of runner jobs, doing everything from loading and unloading cars, making beautiful cups of tea and coffee by the bucketload (our top tip: make sure you stir. A lot) and operating pieces of sound equipment amongst others. But, you may ask, like a character in an overwrought spy thriller, “WHO…ARE…YOU…WORKING…FOR?!” The short answer: lots of people. In the past few weeks we have been working for independent Birmingham based production companies on shoots for blue chip clients, working for none other than the national broadcaster the BBC (we are members of the BBC Birmingham Runners Pool, don’t-you-know) and, even more recently, a horror feature film that has been shooting in our fair city for the past three weeks.

“Passengers” is written and directed by John Hales, with a story from Hales and Carole Budgen. The film is produced by Richard Hart and Richard Turner from Ratio Films. The film follows five young men, who whilst driving to a music festival under the influence of alcohol and drugs, collide with a young nurse riding a bicycle. Inebriated, scared and not thinking straight, suffice it to say they fail to treat their victim with requisite care or an appropriate bedside manner. Eight months after the ordeal, the friends are picked off one by one in increasingly hideous ways by a vengeful killer. To say any more about the plot would surely spoil it, so we won’t be doing that. What we will say is that the film stars Anna Popplewell, best known from the Narnia series, as their victim, and the quintet of up and coming actors Jack Derges, Danny Szam, Ian Weichardt, Calvin Dean and Tom Bacon as the eponymous passengers. Yesterday was the last day of shooting as the production officially wrapped what an experience it has turned out to be.

During our participation in the project, we have helped out at the casting of smaller speaking roles, assisted the sound recordist log sound takes (and even got to play sound recordist ourselves on the final day), worn high visibility jackets and operated walkie talkies as well as making dozens if not hundreds of caffeine filled beverages across various Birmingham locations, from The Custard Factory to Sutton Park and a city centre nightclub. The cast and crew without exception have been a joy to work with, always approachable, welcoming and consistently complimentary about our performance as a runner, which is immensely gratifying. To be able to work on a production like this has been extremely rewarding, particularly as such opportunities in our beloved Birmingham are as rare as hen’s teeth. To be able to do so with such a talented and dedicated team has made it doubly so. A huge thank you to all involved, and a massive good luck to all in their future endeavours. God bless the goodship “Passengers”, and all who sail in her!

“Passengers” is scheduled for release in early 2012, so be sure to keep a beady eye out for it.