‘The Rocky Road Of Filming ‘Art In The Extreme’.
The short story
There were early mornings, late nights, one legged matadors, beautiful landscapes, big blisters, lots of paint, lots of sand and very kind people. The video is now done and is being shown to TV companies such as: Sky Arts, BBC 4 and Redbull TV. This will also become a Kickstarter project and the video will be uploaded soon.
Making It Happen
Working in factories and selling commissions was the only way I could fulfil my dream.
On this journey, sometimes it felt like we had no idea what we were doing or if things were ever going to work out the way they did. The path became very rocky and cloudy. It only made us more motivated and determined to push on!
So, this was my plan. If I worked ‘x’ weeks in a factory and sold ‘y’ amount of commissions I would be able to send the artists and myself to Spain along with the film crew and a car. I had made a deal that turned out we had free accommodation in a big villa, as long as we gave the owners 2 small paintings from each of us at the end of our stay.
After working a month and a half in a metal spring factory, I had just enough money to buy everyone’s tickets: The cameraman, the driver, 4 Artists and myself.
Everything was running so smoothly, for now. I had 4 weeks until the start of my big adventure. I had enough money to get people to the destination but that was it. No money to rent a car, buy food, petrol or any other of the necessities. It was all ok though because I had a plan. I needed to finish a painting that I had been commissioned and then receive the fee. This would fix the financial problem. The commissioner agreed on payment upon delivery. So I held my end of the deal and delivered it to them. Sadly they didn’t hold up their end. It was an awkward situation where the person who wanted it wasn’t the one who was going to pay for it! When the person who was supposedly paying for it found out that they had to cough up a lot of money they didn’t! So, they both stopped talking to me all together.
It could well have been the end of a very sad and short story. I decided that it wasn’t going to be that way! I had an allowance of £50 a week. I had a big bag of protein shake, porridge and a lot of multivitamins that would last me 4 weeks. If I stuck to this diet while walking everywhere instead of using public transport, it meant that I could save the £50 a week I needed. It wasn’t a lot but it was better than nothing. So I did it.
Ready to Go?
Just when I thought my biggest problems were behind me then came another headache in the form of the professional cameraman. Out of the blue I received a message from him stating that he wanted to ‘Bail’. With just 2 weeks left before we departed on our adventure I must admit that this situation really did freak me out. I began to panic.
Even though I had already paid for his flights, he wouldn’t reimburse me for his “bail” or even reply to any of my numerous messages. His last words were “My friend has cancer.” After that I never heard from him again. I had compassion for him and I wasn’t bitter about it but I’d be lying if I told you that I was calm.
Luckily, I bumped into a northerner, Max, who I had known for 3 weeks from my college and casually asked him if he had a camera. He had his mother’s camera which was very high quality. He himself couldn’t film to save his life but luckily there’s always time to learn on the job! He was very excited to come along as he hadn’t been on holiday for 5 years. So, with three days to go I bought his flight. At last I could stop panicking and finally focus on the trip, couldn’t I?
The last day of the trip, in Arcos de la Frontera
Max, Dru, Lizet, Elliot, George, Max
The Night Before
It had now come to the moment we were all waiting for. It was the evening before we embarked to Sevilla to begin our once in a lifetime tour of Andalucía. I had been meticulous in trying to avoid any more potential road blocks to our trip. I didn’t want the new camera man to miss his flight, so he stayed at my house that evening. I printed out everyone’s boarding passes. I planned to ring everyone very early in the morning to wake them up and I had arranged transport for everyone to get to the airport. Finally, I had a chance to finalise plans for the trip and managed to put some finishing touches on the schedule and daily itineraries. My mind was swirling but I was sure everything was done. It was 10:00pm so I knew I had to get some sleep. I laid in bed and quickly checked my phone to see if I had any last minute good luck messages from friends and family.
There was a message from one of the Artists who were coming on my trip.
“Hey max I’m so so sorry to let you down, especially at the last minute, but I’ve decided to pull out. I’ve done a lot of thinking and I just don’t think the whole trip is for me.”
I was so emotionally and physically drained from the previous month that I seriously thought I was dreaming as I slowly read and then reread the message repeatedly.
Despite some desperate attempts to persuade the artist to change her mind, she then stopped talking to me. I never managed to fall asleep and headed to the airport the next morning with a giant hole in the episodes story line. What could possibly go wrong next?
Can We Please Leave Now?
Arriving at the airport, my head completely awash with worries and concerns I earnestly checked in and swiftly got through security. I began to relax as I knew that the whole crew had arrived and sat back to wait for them.
Upon checking in, one of the artists Lizet had put a very large cartridge of lead-white paint in her suitcase. Seeing this on the scanner, the security guards interrogated her for 45 minutes, keeping everyone waiting in a long queue, before making her put on a hi-vis jacket and taking her to the pilots cockpit for more of an investigation. As this was Lizet, she remarkably managed to sweet talk the pilot into letting her keep the cartridge in the cockpit and take it to Sevilla after all.
So, at last we all got on the plane and carried on with our adventure. By now I knew that nothing was going to be easy.
We make it to Spain
Getting the hire car was surprisingly a complete nightmare and really made me wonder whether something was against us.
So, as I’d previously mentioned I had achieved my financial goal and got my dad to order the hire car ready for pickup. I had a driver Elliot, who was the only one of us with a driver’s licence. I was just 17 at the time! We had ordered a car with 7 seats and had all the papers to prove this. It turns out that with this car company, the person who ordered it has to be there to take the car. Sadly my dad was at home in the UK and probably reading the newspaper whilst sipping his morning coffee.
So, for almost 2 hours Elliot and I begged and begged the lady behind the till to somehow make a deal with us as without the car we may as well looked for the first flight home. Thankfully the lady could see the desperation in my eyes and relented. We handed over the cash and took the car, which turned out to have 6 seats instead of 7. So maybe it was for the best that one of us had bailed.
After getting the car, we now had the 3-hour drive to our lovely large villa. Things were now great. We were all present and alive. Max had his camera and started filming the stunning Andalusian landscapes. Elliot was reminding himself how to drive and we had all our painting materials.
The house was lovely and the family were amazingly kind hosts. I had been there before when I met the owner, Quentin. He and myself agreed on a deal that if my friends and I stayed in his house for free, we would give him two small paintings each at the end of our stay. If Quentin hadn’t been so kind, then this adventure wouldn’t have been possible.
It was however, very sad and tragic when arriving at the house to be told of the unfortunate news that Quentin had cancer and was on his death bed. His son Tom hadn’t told us before we arrived, so that we wouldn’t be put off from coming which was incredibly thoughtful of him. Lizet painted him in his last few days and three days after we left Quentin passed away.
The Sleepless Nights In South Spain
Even though there were hot, sunny days with beautiful beaches and large, topless, hairy old men, this was unfortunately not a holiday. The work ethic we had was relentless. If we’d carried on longer than two weeks it might have killed us. There were many early mornings and unless you slept in the garden, there was no escaping my loud knock on all the bedroom doors every morning. I did enslave the team and make them work very hard. They did not have to listen to me and they could of left. Yet they were very loyal, amazing, diligent and showed a lot of compassion to allow themselves to be bossed around by someone who’s half their age and wasn’t allowed to legally have a pint yet.
On top of the sand dune at 7:00am
There were late nights and early mornings. Through Quentin we were introduced to a one-legged matador called Carlos – He was a very well-known bullfighter in his time who had lost his leg in a bull fight. He fed us a delicious lunch while telling us story after story. Not to forget his big hopes and dreams of training a lot of Chinese people to bullfight.
One evening we all went to bed at 12:00 am and woke up at 3:00 am, to drive to the windiest beach in Spain called ‘Bolonia’. Together, we climbed the giant sand dune in the darkness of 5:30am, to then reach the top and start painting. The sand ruined some of the camera kit and destroyed the recorders.
Bolonia Beach at 6:30am
Bolonia Beach at 8:00am
A Location Shot
We had many interviews. One of them was in a field with a large male horse who wouldn’t get out of the camera shot. This horse was very sexually interested in Lizet and Dru. For many good reasons we did not take a wide shot of this situation and we kept it only to head shots.
Lizet painting people on the beach
George drawing Carlos.
Topless Interview pic.1
Drawing Fishermen on Tarifa beach
Max the cameraman
The End Of This Story And The Beggining Of The Next
This was a journey that none of us would ever forget.
After coming back from Spain I attempted to edit the entire 45-minute episode. When I had completed twelve minutes of that episode (that took 3 months) I was given very good advice to make a 5 minute clip instead of the full episode.
F.Y.I – This film trip, was the second attempt to film “Art In The Extreme”. Before this, I had made a 1 minute clip about the same idea and called it “Modern Masters”. This also got shown to Sky Arts. Their reply was, “We feel like it’s already been done”. After hearing this, I told myself that I must have made a bad video. So I tried again. This time, Sky loved it. They gave amazing feedback. We are still in slow but positive contact, with a large hope for the future
Video Link: Modern Masters
Video Link: Art In The Extreme
My Facebook page: Max D-P Artist