The Better Man

Bustabowl Productions

Over a two-week period in September 2012, a small crew descended on a Bedford flat to make a feature film with only £4,000 as a budget. Josh’s role on the production was Co-Director, Co-Producer, Director of Photography and Editor – no pressure, then! This was probably our most challenging shoot to date due to its miniscule budget – most of it having to be spent on catering. It’s surprising how much food a small crew can get through…

Having made a low-budget indie film, what did you learn?

That it’s actually possible to make a film on such a small budget! Pulling favours was a big one too. I learnt that pulling in as many favours as possible is essential to the success of a small production. We borrowed lighting, audio gear and tripods, whatever we could get our hands on that meant we didn’t need to rent. I never really knew how much keeping up morale would help on a film, especially when you’re meant to be making a film that’s supposed to get people laughing. Our cast and crew were brilliant, always cracking jokes and keeping the mood at a cheerful level, which I think I needed to calm me down.

What was the most expensive shot in the film?

By quite a way, it was the driving scene, where we see our two protagonists driving along the motorway. We faced the challenge of making it look like our lead actor was driving, when in fact, he’d never driven a car before. We paid a garage in Bridgend to tow the car around a two-mile stretch of road while we filmed the scene. I strapped the camera to the bonnet of the car and had Paul our sound guy lay across the floor of the car. The clock was ticking and we couldn’t do too many takes as we didn’t have much of the budget left and were paying by the half-hour! We managed to get the shots we needed though, I was really happy with the end result.

Describe the most stressful 10 minutes on set and how did you deal with it?

The entire shoot was a big ball of stress, but it had to be the biggest scene in the film that proved the most stressful. We managed to cram roughly 30 people into the flat for the climactic speech scene, I’d never had as many people as that to direct before then, it was terrifying! There was a lot of tension on set that night as we had to keep people on set for as long as possible, and when you’re only paying extras with beer, people get pretty restless. A couple of key crew members had a moment of panic and had to take a moments rest, this was possible the most stressful time on set. We just had to carry on, keep up morale and stick to what we were doing. Yes, the production ran a bit slower that night, but we eventually got through it and ended up with a scene that we were all very happy with.

What was the editing process?

Luckily we were putting together an assembly edit every night after day of shooting. While everyone else was in bed, my co-director Matt and I were up until 2:00am editing. After the shooting had wrapped, I travelled back to Cardiff where I started tightening up each scene. It took a good few months of sending individual scenes back and forth before we had a final draft. I guess I was lucky that I had a good team in London who knew how to give great feedback, that really made my job easier!

Who did the soundtrack?

The soundtrack was mainly made up of the best local bands and friends from around Bedford and Cardiff, we even managed to swing a cheeky song from Don Broco! We were really lucky with the soundtrack, because there’s some absolutely cracking tunes in there. Though my favourite part of the soundtrack is the original score by Cardiff based singer/songwriter Ali Lacey aka Novo Amor, who not only helped us by mixing the audio but also wrote a song just for the film! The first time I heard it, I was reduced to tears. It may have had something to do with the sheer lack of sleep or tiredness, but it was absolutely stunning!

Would you ever want to direct again?

I can easily say that making that film was one of the best times of my life. I was surrounded by my favourite people, doing what I love most – of course, I’d love to do it all again! Yes, it was a level of stress that I’d never experienced before, but it was so worth it.