Extremely Dangerous - Behind the Scenes (2)

(Click on the small pictures to see larger versions)

Sean and Ron Donachie

Sean, Northwestone's Michael Foster and Ron Donachie

Sean and his fellow actors carry the scene off with a realism that throws me. We've been watching them rehearse, the action blocked in slow motion, the actors going through each step methodically, practising reactions, an empty plastic Evian bottle standing in for the fake glass wine bottle. In rehearsal, nothing connects. Sean gives the car door a push, but stops it before it can hit the other actor. The other actor drops to the ground, a practise fall. Sean gestures with the Evian bottle but brings it down far short of the second actor's head, lightly tapping the air.

When the camera rolls, everything changes. There is a sudden focus of energy. The Range Rover screeches to a stop and in a choreographed sequence that can only be described as Art, the car door rams the first thug with a convincing-sounding thud. Down he goes, writhing, to the pavement. The second thug leaps in front of Sean and crash! the wine bottle shatters as it smashes over his head. Sean flees for his life.

Sean, Ron Donachie and Sallie Aprahamian discuss the dark alley around the corner

In the finished episode the camera will pick him up running down the road and around the corner into a dark alley. On-set, Sean jogs out of the frame, nimbly leaping over the raised tracks the camera dolly has been riding as it follows the action.

From the sidelines it looks perfect. But director Sallie Aprahamian has been watching it all on her monitor. She reruns the videotape, watches it again, and calls for another take.

The Range Rover backs up the street. The extras - café customers, a couple of policemen in uniform, people walking - take their places yet again. Another breakaway wine bottle is placed on the table. Sean saunters back to his starting position halfway up the road.

Such is film-making.

This scene will eventually take up the entire morning, and will be shot from a distance and in close-up to make a cohesive little piece of action that will probably last no longer than a couple of minutes when it's finally shown on television in six months' time.

What the TV audience will see on their screens will be twelve café customers, a waiter, three minders, two policemen, and two main actors. Behind the scenes are 60-70 others - producers, directors, continuity people, makeup, lighting, sound and electrical experts, costumers, stunt arrangers, a paramedic, a still photographer and cameramen - to identify but a few. Everyone is gathered on this narrow little road backing onto Manchester's Rochdale Canal, and they're all focussed on getting the job done before it starts to rain. Again.

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