When director/producer Phil Hawkins told me that he was going to start the process of bringing Baptism to the screen by shooting a trailer for the feature film, I wasn’t quite sure what he had in mind. So many spec trailers for films and books are basic affairs containing a few key story moments from the source material produced for a tiny budget and often with an even tinier imagination. I knew that Phil’s way of doing things would be different – he’s a very talented bloke – but I really wasn’t prepared for how different it would turn out to be.
Bringing together a talented cast and crew with top end equipment (the technical details of which I won’t attempt), the shoot comprised multiple locations including George and Maggie’s house shot in Hackney, the London Underground Network Control Centre shot at South Bank University, tunnels and accompanying explosions shot in Rochester in Kent and underwater sequences at a pool in Oxted in Surrey.
It was the scenes on the train, however, shot over two full days on a tube carriage beneath a special blacked-out marquee at the Pumphouse Museum in Walthamstow, that formed the bulk of the shoot. It was there on the third day of filming that Phil asked me to play one of Tommy Denning’s victims, namely the trainee driver who is “riding the cushions” with George, the train driver – hence my blood-spattered appearance in the picture above.
It’s safe to say that a career as an actor doesn’t beckon but getting shot in the head in an adaptation of your own novel is an experience that every writer should have at least once in their life.
I’ve worked on a few projects that have been brought to the screen but Baptism is a story that has been brewing in my mind for many years; the writing of the book involved numerous drafts, rewrites, crises of confidence, epiphanies and all round blood, sweat and tears. To see characters and situations that I have lived with for so long in my mind brought to life – and brought to life brilliantly – was an experience that bordered on the surreal. One scene in particular, that in which Tommy Denning makes his announcement to the world via a webcam from the hijacked train, was so similar to the image that I had lived with for so long in my mind – Tommy (played by Sean Cernow) leaning into the camera and expressing his twisted world view while George, the driver (played by Nick Pearse), sits on a seat further down the carriage – that it was uncanny and made me feel dizzy just watching it being filmed.
I can’t wait to see – and for you to see – the finished trailer (no pressure Phil!). I’m working on the screenplay for the feature film every spare minute I get. The next train will be along shortly…
Blood-spattered author picture by Gareth Gatrell: http://www.garethgatrell.com/