Kaleidoscope Man is an independent Sci-Fi film written and directed by Simon Cox. The story follows the actions of Tom, a doctor at a care home, who always wanted to be a superhero as a kid; however his life as an adult could not be any further away from his childhood dream. This is until aliens attack Earth and Tom has the chance to be the hero he always wanted be.
Being camera assistant on Kaleidoscope Man was an amazing experience. Not only did I get to work with some very talented cast and crew but the experience itself was so varied.
In the first week we filmed on location in an old priory boasting a lot of English heritage. Each day was different, one day we would be flooding the corridors of the priory with smoke and light, for the dream sequences, and the next we would be in the gardens setting off small explosions, to mimic alien laser-fire. We even had the pleasure of shooting in the Birmingham Art Gallery one evening.
The second week we were based in a studio shooting a majority of the alien planet scenes using green screen. I had never shot green screen footage on this scale before and it was interesting to see the potential benefits and challenges it posed; while green screen opens a wealth of possibilities to incorporate CGI into the film we were restricted with what angles we could use due to the height of the studio.
My own role throughout the two week shoot involved working directly under the D.O.P. helping set up lighting, setting up the camera and tripod ready for the next shot, monitoring the footage while it was being recorded and pulling focus when required. All the time, anticipating when the battery needed to be changed, or the tape needed swapping, and being ready with a fresh one to minimise downtime. There were also some general runner tasks involved and I had the opportunity to operate the boom microphone too.
Since then, I have been invited to help with a number of other shoots including filming a zombie scene at University Point in Birmingham, filming on the volcanic desserts of Lanzarote, recording tanks and armoured vehicles in Birmingham City Centre and also shooting at the National Space Centre in Leicester. Each being a unique experience in itself, dealing with its own set of logistics.
Birmingham City University – It was great to see make-up and wardrobe really ‘come to life’ when all extras were in full-zombie costume. We used a Steadicam for a majority of the shots and I had the pleasure to operate the focus remotely for the duration of the shoot. Got to see a large group of extras are coordinated for the first time.
Lanzarote – filming the rest of the alien planet scenes to complement the footage recorded in the studio shoot some months prior. Gained insight into the logistics of shooting abroad - getting equipment through customs, providing food and accommodation for cast and crew, the various permissions required, precautions needed to be taken when filming in a potentially dangerous location (filming in high temperatures and on the coast in this instance). This was an arduous shoot that required a lot stamina as we had to carry equipment over very rocky terrain to get to areas that could not be reached by car.
Birmingham City Centre – filming footage for the scene where aliens first attack. This was a large shoot where, at times, there were multiple shots being recorded at once (at least three at one point). We were working with a much larger crew than usual and I got to see how one of such a size collaborates, as I liaised with the various sub-teams relaying messages. Again, extras were involved but on a much larger scale.