Actor Suranne Jones is struggling to stay upright on a wall in ferocious rain and wind amid the beautiful, bleak landscape of West Yorkshire. The crew battle to protect the camera and sound equipment from storm damage. I'm remembering how Nicola Shindler, our executive producer, burst out laughing when I returned from a gloriously sunny recce, worried that shooting in August and September wouldn't give us the wintry look that David Evans, our director, wanted.
David loves Sally Wainwright's emotional script, its mix of mystery and realism. It tells the story of convicted murderer Ruth Slater, played by Suranne, who - newly released from prison - embarks on a search for the sister she was forced to leave behind.
In the scene we're shooting now, Suranne as Ruth appears ghostly, haunting the inhabitants of her former home, the place where she committed murder. Sally dreamt the story one night in November 2007, told it to Nicola, who immediately arranged a meeting with Laura Mackie and Sally Haynes at ITV. They encouraged Red to commission the first script and then greenlit all three episodes when they read it. This was in February and by June we were in pre-production.
David and I wanted Sean Bobbitt to shoot this. He has worked on Steve McQueen's Hunger and I'm so thrilled that he wants to work with us. But knowing we have to shoot on HD, Sean will only take the job if he can use the Arri D21 camera, which shoots in Log F colourspace. Our graded pictures will look stunningly cinematic because of its greater dynamic range, and our workflow will speed up because Sean won't need a monitor and a video village set up, just his light meter. What's not to like? The camera's “fucking heavy”, says Sean.
I persuade our line producer to make this set-up work within our budget. After all, Sean is a pioneer, pushing HD into new territory. Another location is Ruth's tower-block flat. Because of the extended latitude of Log F, we're able to see the panoramic view of Halifax outside and the actors inside, all correctly exposed.
Photos of the 12K HML lamp suspended from the giraffe crane on the roof, lighting the interior of the flat, have been flying around the internet: it's the first time it's been done in this country and consequently is awarded an accolade new to me: Rig of The Week.
It's stopped raining. The crane sweeps the camera round to capture Suranne on the wall. The shot is majestic on the monitor. Our editor Mark Elliott actually stood up and cheered when he saw it in the rushes.
This is the first time I've worked in the north of England and I am just loving this unfailingly committed and talented crew, who march back up the sodden field after five hours of sterling work, every one of them smiling - and bang on time for lunch, too.
Production company Red Production with the support of the Screen Yorkshire Production Fund
Director David Evans
Producer Karen Lewis
Executive producers Nicola Shindler; Sally Wainwright
Writer Sally Wainwright
Broadcast From Monday 12 January at 9pm on ITV1
Project summary Released after serving 15 years for the murder of two policemen, Ruth Slater searches for her sister, who doesn't remember her.
Karen Lewis: My tricks of the trade
Choose the best crew you can, value them and you're more than halfway there.
For a happy shoot and good morale, get the best caterers you can.
Sunglasses, fleece, wet weather gear , usually at the same time.
Listen, and resist making snap decisions.
Sat Nav for remote rural locations, no matter how clear movement orders are.
Blackberry or iPhone to get online if you need to stay in constant touch.