Summer Shoot in Berlin by Tony MooreIt was May 20th, 2015, and I sat at my laptop finishing some work in London before setting off to take part in a music festival in Liverpool, when I heard the familiar ping of Facebook telling me that someone was trying to talk to me. I took a moment to open FB and read the following message: “Hi Tony! We're in Berlin in pre-production for "Mr. Rudolpho's Jubilee". There is an important role I think you would be great in... Would love to talk with you about it. It's time to get you in a BBG film! What do you think? All the Best, Michael….”
It was my dear friend Michael Glover from Bright Blue Gorilla who I have known for many years and his question, which came out of the blue (pun intended), flattered me and intrigued me.
I immediately accepted the offer and we began a dialogue about details and dates (I had a music tour of the USA with ILONA, the artist I work with, booked for the latter part of July and most of August so timing would be everything on this).
When I was young my Mother had sent me to drama and elocution classes and as a teenager I studied theatre and dramatic arts for a year. Part of me loved acting but another part of me loved making music and so for the longest time music played the dominant role in my life.
During the early 80’s I had a brief flirtation with the world of acting when I accidentally got an agent (that’s another story) and started making small appearances in TV shows such as The Young Ones, Spike Milligans Q10, and Crocodile Shoes. However, music soon took over again and I left that world behind. So now, I found the opportunity to be acting again, AND in a movie, very exciting.
After a few weeks Michael sent me the script which I read through a few times to get a sense of the story and the dynamic of my role as Colin, one half of a “hit man” duo from The UK. Then I started looking closely at my ‘sides” (lines to be learnt) and realised that, as a food loving baddie, much of the dialogue for my opening scene consisted of “mmm” “ahhhhh” and other human sounds of pleasure ! This was difficult to learn in the traditional sense, however it did leave me scope to try method acting and practise eating deserts whilst trying out the lines where ever I was.
I was also really looking forward to being in Berlin to make this movie, a city I hadn’t visited since 1987 when I was playing keyboards for Cutting Crew and we played a big show at The Metropole. It was a very different city now and I was keen to explore it and soak up the atmosphere and unique sense of creativity it was now famed for.
The US tour finished on the night of the 14th and we flew back into London on the morning of 15th, then we had one more UK show to do that night, which only left Sunday the 16th to find and buy all the clothes I thought I might need (you’ve gotta love Primark) for the filming and to get everything together!
I flew out to Berlin first thing on Monday 17th, my suitcase stuffed with the suits, shirts, ties and boots I just had bought. It was only once, I was on the EasyJet flight, that I first met my “partner in crime” for this film, ‘Edward’, also know as actor, Howard Corlett.
Although we only sat a few seats apart I was still jet lagged, so took the chance to sleep as much as I could during the journey before the real work would begin.
After clearing customs, Howard and I set off to find Robyn and Michael in their apartment, armed with detailed instructions and a sense of adventure on SBAHN.
Howard was very easy to get on, with which relieved some of my initial anxiety about how this new phase of my life would pan out. We talked about life, music, and a bit about our parts as we negotiated the train into the centre of Berlin, then changed to the tram for the final stage of the journey that was taking us to Prenzlauerberg.
We were in what used to be East Berlin, and the apartment Robyn and Michael were using had changed very little since the days when the wall had been built. Clumping up the stone stairs with evocatively aged cream and green walls and the echo’y sound of our footsteps filling the stairwell instantly conjured images of movies like “The Third Man’ or Michael Caine in Len Deighton's cold war thriller “Funeral In Berlin”.
We were greeted with warm hugs and a buffet of delicious foods, salads and vegetarian ham slices PLUS English tea ! This was a Bright Blue Gorilla experience that was going to be repeated many times over the next 10 days.
After relaxing and talking about Berlin and the movie and what the plan was for the next few days, Howard and I were dispatched to our designated quarters. I was sharing a small apartment with Stig Eldred, one of the main actors in the film, about a 20 min walk away.
Two flights up, it was two rooms, kitchen and bathroom with the squeakiest wooden floor I had ever experienced. There didn’t seem to be any way of walking from one part of the room to the other without waking up half the neighbourhood. However, I was to find that, later on, the neighbourhood had a bar opposite that didn’t usually close till past 5 am and it appeared to be a local sport to stand outside as long as possible drinking, laughing and shouting at the top of your voice, so I have no doubt that my squeaky floor made no difference to anyone else except me when Stig would try and tip toe past my sofa bed to his room at 6am.
In order to prepare for this part I had pre-recorded all the scenes, speaking the other lines and leaving gaps for my own, and saved the audio files to my phone.
Over the next few days, I could be found wandering the streets of Berlin, headphones in place and apparently having strange conversations with no one in particular.
I think both Howard and I, in our preparation, had decided that we would be smartly dressed psychopaths and so, before filming began on the second day, we had a ‘costume call’ with head of wardrobe, Beatrice to go through what we had brought and what she had ear marked for us.
Beatrice was fabulously fun, full of energy and just a little mad (in a good way of course). We tried on various combinations of clothes based on the scenes we were going to shoot and took pictures of everything (so no one would forget what each shot would require) before we headed off to begin filming our first scene together in the night club.
I don’t want to give away too much information (no spoiler alerts here) but Howard and I are hit men who love food and, in particular, dessert. We tend to take jobs that enable to us to visit great restaurants and share the joy of trying to discover the greatest Tiramisu on the planet. However, our job tonight was to follow Rudolpho into a night club, before realising that something is definitely not right and making a quick exit.
Although neither Howard or I had an enormous amount of dialogue to speak, the lines we did have were all very memorable and allowed us to create two very interesting characters. A little flavour of Wint and Kidd from “Diamonds Are Forever” with a slight hint of the Thompson Twins and then something all of our own.
There was a quiet sense of calm and expectation as we waited for our scene to be set up. Camera’s, lights, makeup, all taking their time to perfect. The first thing you learn on a film set is to hurry up and wait. Hours of set up can go into a 20 second shot and if you are not patient (or don’t have a great book) you are going to quickly get bored. Despite that, adrenaline and nervous energy kept me on my toes as I reviewed my lines, thinking about how the scene would play out.
Even though we had only just met and hadn’t had chance to do any script read through together, Howard and I seemed to gel very quickly. I think that we both had a strong sense of how our internal dynamic would work, so quickly we fell into step, literally. Our movements, actions and responses finding their own natural rhythm and balance.
By the end of the first night I was tired out but very happy with what we had done. When you don’t have big budgets and the luxury of shooting scenes over a long time or multiple days, then everyone has to really focus and deliver the best they can. If we don’t get a particular shot, there will be no chance of a re-shoot, so the pressure was always on in the back of everyone’s minds that there are no second chances.
The next 10 days went by in a flash. Very quickly we slipped into our roles and became very comfortable as Colin and Edward. The crew was fantastic, working so hard and always having such great energy. And, the aforementioned buffets of filling foods regularly appeared wherever we were filming to keep us going and provide a chance for us all to take some time to get to know each other and create new relationships.
We did have a little time out to do some sight seeing and I soon got the hang of the very extensive public transport network to move further afield. I visited the WALL monuments, did lots of shopping in Alexanderplatz and investigated the old streets of Neukolln.
All too soon it was the last night and many of us gathered for an “End Of Shooting In Berlin” dinner where we shared stories, toasts and big hugs.
Before I knew it, I was back in London and the previous week-and-a-half felt like a beautiful but slightly surreal dream. However my appetite has been wetted, Michael's skillful writing and direction combined with supportive crew made me want to look at doing more Film/TV work.
Having seen some of the rough cut footage, I think the end result is going be fantastic. I am very proud of the small contribution I made and very excited to see the final result up on the big screen.
Berlin will always have an extra place in my heart as I remember the wonderful new friends I have made and the inspirational experience I had.