Tuesday, 25 February 2014

One Pair of Feet

No, it's not the book by Monica Dickens, but my way of describing what happened when we returned to Robin Hood's Bay in February. Okay, this is not so much what happened as what we needed.

We'd been there in early December to film a book trailer for Flither Lass. We got savage waves, seaweed, cliff edges, caves and narrow, winding streets. But, as is often the case (especially when the storyboarding has gaps), we didn't get everything; in particular a pair of young woman's bare feet and lower legs. Such feet, running across the beach and rocks and splashing in the pools, would add that extra something to the film, which, incidentally, would last no longer than 90 seconds.

We didn't know anyone with such ... er, attributes, and the thought of simply asking some sundry person who might be enjoying themselves in Robin Hood's Bay sort of filled me with dread. I mean, you can't simply go up to someone and ask them if you can film their feet, can you? And especially if they are bare...? Of course you can't, especially in this country where offences are so easily perpetrated these days, even in all innocence.

So what would we do? Could we persuade some young woman – and one with hard-looking feet (and without painted nails because that didn't happen in 1915), attached to sturdy legs with strong calf muscles – to get them out for the promise of immortality in a YouTube video? I remember the days when that sort of thing had currency value, but times have changed.

So there we were. We wanted cold, dark clouds, frigid conditions. We got blue sky and sun-glistened bladderwrack on the rocks. At least that could be edited out in post-production. But where could we get the feet and legs? There were plenty of people about, some walking dogs, others walking children, pushing prams, walking with each other. The tide was coming in, and odd little groups were finding themselves trapped by streams cutting into the sand, swirling and getting deeper by the second.

I was one of the marooned, along with two young women. The rest of the team was on the other side. I was trapped only because I'd wandered off, thinking about the next book. The two women looked into the deepening water. This was similar, but nowhere near as treacherous, as the situation that the book's heroine, Amy, finds herself in. There was no way they would get across to the other side without taking off their shoes – which is exactly what they did.

I told them why I was there – to film legs and feet. One of them rolled up her trousers and did a sailor's hornpipe dance. "You can use me, if you like," she laughed.
I couldn't believe it. There was just one condition, though: she wanted us to use a clapperboard; it was a childhood dream of hers. Luckily, we had one with us, even if it was on the other side of what was fast becoming a widening lagoon.

But we did it! We got the feet and the legs. And, after all that trouble (my feet got wet too), the shot won't last ten seconds...

Flither Lass is due in March 2014.