The business of film
The business of film

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The business of film

3 Making your film bigger than it costs

You have heard in the interview clips about how tight the budget was for Spooks: The Greater Good and, as a consequence, how short and packed the schedule was.

Next, you're going to hear more from Ollie, Clare and Simon on how they made the most of their budget to create a film that, in their view, delivered a film of scale despite the relatively restrictive budget. In the activity below, you'll get a chance to record your own ideas about how to approach this challenge.

Described image
Figure 5 Spooks: The Greater Good

Activity 3 Making the most of a budget

Timing: Allow about 5 minutes

Take a few minutes to think about how you could make the most of a restrictive budget. What kind of solutions might give a film like Spooks the scale it needs to compare with other studio films in the genre, such as the Bond movies, that have much bigger budgets?

Make some notes in the box below, and then click 'Reveal discussion' to compare your ideas to the approach the team took during the production of Spooks.

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Producer, Ollie Madden, Post Production Supervisor, Clare MacClean, and Production Designer, Simon Bowles, tell us about various tricks of the trade that they used to lend scale to their movie.

Download this video clip.Video player: Video 7 Ollie, Clare and Simon talk about the tricks of the trade
Skip transcript: Video 7 Ollie, Clare and Simon talk about the tricks of the trade

Transcript: Video 7 Ollie, Clare and Simon talk about the tricks of the trade

Some of the challenges we had with this film is that it had to feel like a very big film. We were entering a genre, the spy genre, that has a lot of huge franchises such as Bond or Bourne in it. And the film, although we had nowhere near those kinds of budgets, had to feel and wear the clothes of a bigger movie. So that's where post-production really comes into its own in terms of the sound design, the music, the visual effects.
Film is like a jigsaw puzzle. You have your pieces. You have your pieces picture, your sound, visual effects, and music. And they all come together to make a film. So for Spooks to make it bigger, the sound design was imperative. The big set action pieces became so much more with a digital mix. And our music score- Dominic, our composer, was incredible. It was shot beautifully by the DOP Hubert, who's got an incredible eye. The production design was amazing, and then the role in post is to embellish that, make it grander.
 And the look of the film, the grade, which is when you create the look of the film- colour it to a certain degree- we gave it different looks for when you're in Russia, when there's flashbacks, helped make it much larger. There was also something that came in in post-production which was within the script. London is almost like another cast member for the film, and we're very, very lucky that in post-production we finally got the approval to do a helicopter shoot. And the scale that gave the film was incredible. London then definitely became another cast member- these beautiful aerial shots of London, they were just fantastic.
The locations in London we had to choose really carefully because we wanted to really open it out and give it a really good sense of scale. So we were shooting on Waterloo Bridge and all these fantastic locations that lot of people will recognise and see as a big location. To give even more scale to the film, we shot on the National Theatre, on their rooftop, which was fabulous. It's a beautiful modernist building, and you got a sniper. And our hero guy kind of jumping from one level to another. And also they're lining up to shoot people who are standing on Waterloo Bridge. So you got that relationship between the National Theatre and Waterloo Bridge.
 It's a fabulous moment, and it adds a lot of scale to the whole film.
MI5 is teetering on the edge.
Prisoner escaped!
An officer has been shot.
Escape was set up by someone in the service.
There has been no breakthrough in the hunt for escaped terrorist-
Code one! Code one!
The threat level has been raised to critical-
Cannot let him go.
Who are you?
Harry Pearce.
End transcript: Video 7 Ollie, Clare and Simon talk about the tricks of the trade
Video 7 Ollie, Clare and Simon talk about the tricks of the trade
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In particular, in post-production the sound design is critical, as is the music score. Another effective way to create space and variety is in the grade or the look of the film. Clare explains that they were able to provide a different look by playing with colour for different parts of the film. So, for example, there was a different look for Russia and for flashbacks. Also, the film was fortunate in having London as its backdrop. Clare and Simon explain how they made the most of the city as the signature location.


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