Set Notes

Recolections from the floor

Cathering, Called Birdy / Working Title


This was one of the most fun location shoots I have been on….. the producer asked me how about spending 5 months in Shropshire making a Medieval set film.

Who would not, with covid raging in London I said yes!

This film is based on a teenage fiction book called 'Catherine, Called Birdy' and the director is Lena Dunham. Much of the story is set in a medieval household and we needed a suitable building to make into our home for Birdy. Previously extensive scouting had taken place and a property north of Ludlow had been identified, I had scouted it for The Witcher a year before, so I know of it and knew it was a 'Scheduled Ancient Monument' which is the highest level of protection offered to a property or structure in there UK. An extensive range of specialists where employed to make up a report on the building and I had to write a through method statement stating all the methods we may employ to film there, from free standing set pieces inside the hall, scaffold rigs in the roof which had minimal pressure on the timbers, weight spreading roadways and removal of hedges with architects on standby in case of finds. If a skeleton had been found that would have closed to site down for months!

The production also filmed in Ludlow Castle, which we set dressed into a medieval town, as the castle in situated in the middle of the town we needed the full permission of the local council and City Council who helped us at every stage. This shooting period was in the time of the 2021 lock down and many business, hotels and accommodation providers where grateful of our presence during this difficult time, all pubs and restaurants closed and no tourism, 250 crew member living in the local area for 2 months was a great economic benefit to the region. My team also hired all large support equipment and marquees from local providers which was a lifeline to some of them.

This film is still in post production so I cannot say too much more!

Mothering Sunday / Number 9 Films

Surrey, Buckinghamshire & Oxford
Mothering Sunday was one of the first films out of the 2020 Covid lockdown, we where a BFI and Film 4 commission and they where keen to get filming going again. An 80 page guidelines document was issued by the BFI and these would be the rules for us to work within. On first read and discussion we all decided that if we implemented the guidelines as first read we may as well pack up and go home, by the time we had performed the daily routines our work day would only be a few hours long and as the production was a 'art house' production our funds would not have covered an extended shoot period or the number of back up crew held on standby in case of a positive test.

Once we had found workable protocols and introduced these new routines to the crew after a slow first week the production crew soon where used to daily testing, 2 meter working distances, hand sanitisers everywhere and mask wearing. As the film would be set in the 1920's and 1940's the locations we used could not be fumigated and held over for 3 days between prep, shoot and strike our production was very careful in every aspect. To my knowledge we only had one on-set positive test and that had not spread to any other crew, filming progressed from September to November 2020.

Much of the filming would take place in two country houses, one illustrating the old money family and the second the new money, both families had lost son's in the First World War and this dark shadow would overhang the whole world we where building. Our toughest challenge was to try and film for a day in Oxford City, where we would see our lead character pass through on the way to work and walk the famous meadows behind All Saints Collage. Initially the City Council would not allow more than 5 crew in any public places in the city. This was in the early days of the pandemic after lock down and pavements where deemed one way and no more than 6 persons could be together in any environment, so we had to get inventive. I discovered that some of the city public spaces where privately owned which included the Meadows. After speaking with the relevant collages and we came to a compromise of 15 crew plus cast but only on their land. The City Council begrudging allowed us some parking to service the shoot but on the council owned ground we had to break our crew down to 6 persons when walking from one location to another….. tough but we made it work.

Mothering Sunday has been on general release and is now competing in different festivals and awards. Go a see it, it does look very good!