Making the Film

Cast member Wilf Merttens made this ‘making-of’ film, during production of ‘I Feel Good‘.

Before too much time passes I’d like to share an impression of my experience making this piece, while the edges of it remain relatively distinct.

I’m starting to learn that the more vulnerable you make yourself in a project’s development, the more potential your project has.

The games were brought in as an activity for the chaotic characters, so they would have something to do, and not feel self-conscious. Quickly, though, the games became the foundation for the atmosphere, energy, and eventually all that was most valuable in the film.

The night before filming, having bought the props, gathered the timber and cooked the meal, alone under the arches painting a great wall of plywood white, I felt rather stupid and lost. New to London as I was, the feeling was not dramatically unfamiliar. Brick dust sticking to the paint on my hands, I said to myself

Good.
I feel good.

If you organise your projects just so, the very moment your responsibility for the use of so many wonderful people’s precious time occurs to you, you’re also too busy to reflect on the general standing of your ego. I recall a moment where, while demonstrating to the DOP and director that the collapsing wall structure would in fact work after all, a crucial piece of furniture disintegrated beneath me, just as the first member of the cast arrived, asking where the toilets were (there were no toilets).

We played the games all day. Long lists of wild group games, as the cast became acquainted, and began creating a unique air of abandonment and common mischief. After a time we brought costumes and face paint into the games. Then we assigned certain games to certain players. Then we brought the music to the games, assigning certain players to certain lines. Finally the destroyable objects were introduced.

And then, that was suddenly that.

Throughout the session the camera crew had been running the camera on the dolly, with the cast paying no heed. Only their work (director Melodie Roulaud, DOP Leopold Naessens and grip Hardy Damavand Saleh) could have allowed the cast such ease, whilst capturing the light and form of it all so precisely.

At the final moment, cast and crew crammed together behind the camera to watch back what they had made, gasping and laughing and cheering. Myself I only pranced about in the debris as they did so, deeply distracted, and didn’t watch the piece until nearly two months later.

I’ve told people, “If it’s to be any good at all, the question of getting it right has to be very low on our list of priorities.” I wanted to make a film we could not have deliberately organised, with elements that belonged solely to those people and that moment. I love my work, but I only love it through people, and through rare occasions. What we have, I’d say, is a fine piece of work, but the time that made it shines brighter, just as the people that live outshine their lives.