Alex Garland

Sneak Peek

Chris Gill cut together a bunch of shots to show the crew in the little cinema here at Three Mills. I went in during my lunch hour to have a look. Oh. My. Goodness. It was excellent! Everyone who saw it was very excited afterwards. It cheered up the mood enormously – everyone’s been ill or tired and the filming has been going very slowly- so seeing the amazing work everyone has been doing was exactly what was needed. It showed everyone that it was all worth it.

My husband, Brian Cox, was visiting the set. Just after lunch, we were chatting to Alex Garland and a couple other people when Michelle Yeoh walked up. She had 10 minutes before she was needed on set again and wanted to know if she could watch what Chris had cut together. We all went into the edit.

We sat down on the sofas and Michelle told Brian that she’d like him to write her a little explanation of the science behind ‘Sunshine’. She said she’d been asked to explain a few things about the film in an interview and she only had her memories of his lecture to go on. He promised her he’d write one that would be easy for her to explain.

Dan, one of the Floor Runners, got a call that Michelle was needed in a couple minutes, so Mark the Assistant Editor started playing the edit on the big wide screen telly. *BAM*! Everyone stopped talking and watched.

It finished. Silence.

“I want to see it again!” Michelle loved it… and everyone else said, “Yeah! Me, too!” So we watched it again. I’m sure Michelle would have watched it a third time, if she hadn’t had to go film.

Even though there’s no story to Chris’s edit, it was exciting, action-packed, energetic and full of menace. Amazingly though, the film hasn’t been graded, the wires are still in shot, Chris hadn’t included any of the brilliant acting scenes and there’s no CGI- so no ‘big space shots’. It’s definitely not the case that ‘all the best bits are in the trailer’ because that stuff hasn’t even been filmed yet.

Open Up

I was working at my computer, headphones on, listening to my Sunshine playlist (Bob Marley ‘Sun Is Shining’), when everyone in my office started getting up. I took my headphones off. ‘Is it happening?’

‘It’s happening.’

“It” involved pyrotechnics. My headphones were off and I was out of there in seconds. There’s nothing that gets everyone here more excited than when stuff gets blown up.

Every time there are big, explosive special effects on set, it’s always kind of like a class trip- we go outside, pair up with friends, get all giddy, everyone looks slightly different because you aren’t seeing them sitting at their desk… and, of course, the bad kids hang out at the back smoking cigarettes…

We headed straight down to the set to watch as the Special Effects crew did the final set up.

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As they got closer to being ready, we all had to leave the set and go outside to watch on the monitors. Hey, let’s play a ‘Where’s Wally‘ type game. Can you find Alex Garland? (Yes, I’m expecting another email from him now… but I don’t consider it a photo of him if I can’t see his eyes. ;)

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We waited and waited. Not realising we’d have to wait so long, we hadn’t all worn our coats. We started to get cold so shoved our hands into our pockets and jumped around a bit. We passed the time by talking about the last couple special effects explosions, describing them for people who had missed them. Suddenly, firemen appeared and jumped into action connecting hoses to the fire truck and taking them into the studio. Whenever there are explosions, firemen are required to be on hand in case something goes wrong. Of course, the special effects team spends several hours setting up the explosions so that nothing will go wrong, but the firemen need to be there nevertheless.

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Within minutes, the cameras were rolling and we were told to cover our ears.

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BANG! After all of the waiting around, it always seems to be over so quickly. I immediately ran up to the studio door to take a photo and was promptly yelled at because… well, basically, the set was on fire, it hadn’t been made safe yet and only special effects crew and firemen were allowed in.

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The risks I take for you guys… I don’t know…

The fire was put out in seconds and the studio filled up with smoke. It smelled like someone had just blown out a candle.

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Everyone said goodbye to each other and slowly wandered back to real life feeling slightly let down. The explosions are never quite as big and exciting in real life as they are on film…

Still we’ll all be out there again for the next one hoping for an even bigger bang.

Stubble=Stress

When filming started way back in September, pretty much all of the men were clean-shaven. There was the odd beardy, but, you know, one doesn’t expect anything other than that from the Special Effects department. ;)

A few weeks ago, however, I started to pay attention to the shaving habits of the men around me when I got my first glimpse of stubble. I deduced very quickly that on a film set stubble=stress. I noticed that when a normally very clean-shaven guy was having a difficult time, he’d not shave for a day or two until the stress had passed and then he’d turn up for work with cheeks as smooth as a baby’s bottom.

After a week or so of the odd stubbly day here or there, I noticed that several guys would turn up to work clean-shaven on Monday morning, but by Friday would have a pretty full beard on the go. They didn’t shave at all during the week, but would leave their shaving until the weekend so that they could start the new week afresh. I decided that the moment men stopped shaving on the weekend and started turning up to work on a Monday with a beard that things will have tipped over the bristly edge and really started to get stressful.

Last week, for the first time, I noticed several beards on Monday morning. They’ve been doing six day weeks, 12 hours filming each day and, frankly, I’d guess that the last thing anyone wants to do on their only day off is waste any time at all on shaving. Not everyone has succumbed, but a large percentage of the men are, at the very least, stubbly for several days per week…

Alex Garland, however, has been cultivating his ’stubble look’ from day one… so no one really knows if he’s stressed or not. Veeeery clever move on his part. Very clever.

The only two men I’ve noticed who have *never* had stubble:
Andrew Macdonald and Danny Boyle…

I’m afraid, however, I have no data available on the women-on-production’s legs.

Seriously Cool

Several weeks ago I arrived at the DNA production offices for a meeting with Andrew Macdonald. I was told he was running late, but I was welcome to go into his office to wait. I walked in and there was a guy sitting at a computer.

He said, ‘Hi, I’m Alex.’
‘Oh, hi!’ He looked like he might be an Assistant Script-Typer or something.
‘Are you Brian’s wife?’
‘Yep.’
‘I met him the other week.’ My husband, Dr. Brian Cox, is one of the Science Advisors on the film. He met everyone here way before I did.
‘Oh yea?’
‘Yea, we went out for dinner and had a great time.’
Brian went out for dinner with Andrew Macdonald, Danny Boyle and Alex Garland… wait, this is Alex Garland?

He was not at all what I imagined. I was expecting a pale, skinny, guy, perhaps a bit of a hippy (the whole ‘The Beach’ thing), definitely a bit nerdy. In fact, he’s rather attractive, if I can be girly for a moment here *ahem*.

I’ve had several conversations with him over the past few weeks and really like him a lot. He’s intellectually confrontational in a way that I’ve only ever seen in my husband and other high-energy particle physicists I know. He is extremely intelligent and seems like the kind of person who will never stop pushing himself to know more about the world, the universe and his place in it.

Apparently, though, he hates having his photo taken and hates being filmed even more. He basically values his privacy. Any time I’ve had a video or stills camera around him, he’s run off, but I grabbed this shot of him and when he sees it here he’ll probably come in and demand that it be taken down… but until then, here is the seriously cool Alex Garland.

Edited 16/09/05 11:23am:
Ha! He just emailed me and asked me to take the photo down… Don’t worry, I’ll try and sneak another one up when he’s not looking.