Behind the scenes of The Impossible Planet/The Satan Pit (Part 5)
Excerpt from director James Strong’s “Director’s Diary” (DWM #371)
It’s the week before we start shooting. The cast arrives in Cardiff for a read-through, followed by a rehearsal. This is such a treat. Too often, the first time that you’ll meet an actor is on set, and you’re straight into the work. Don’t get me wrong, you can’t do enormous amounts in a few hours, but any time with the cast in a room just talking through the script and the story can really help the end result. I tend to leave the script alone, and ask the actors to tell me who they think their character is? What do they like? We invent history and background, as well as exploring the relationships between the characters so when they arrive on set, hopefully they’ll have some concrete character notes in their minds. This will enable them to launch straight into our story, as sadly on the day there will be no time to stop and ponder their ‘motivation’.
We gather early in the morning for the read-through. I nervously drink too much tea and need the loo constantly. It’s amazing the transformation that occurs when a script is read aloud. All the emotion and excitement of the page suddenly fills the room. It is so intoxicating, and, despite my dodgy reading of Zack (as Shaun couldn’t make it), the read-through goes really well, and everyone is looking forward to the shoot… regardless of the rather ominous weather reports, which warn of a major snow-front heading straight for us the day we start shooting! Also, it’s my first chance to chat with Billie and David, who talk enthusiastically of the story as the scariest they’ve done!