|I could see an expression on
Rob’s face – that moment where you have to quickly calculate what your reaction
will be – there were probably a lot of factors to weigh up in that moment – It
was obvious Jon was never going to back down, he physically remained the same
distance from Rob’s face where he left off at the end of his outburst. – Rob
knew of Jon’s edgy state of mind in the previous weeks where he had frequently
expressed his wishes to smash someone’s head in for all that had gone on –
there were about three or four hundred people watching intently, for once they
hade gone deadly silent – could Rob’s ego deal with being shouted at like that
with no smoothing over – then there would have been the matter of the film itself
- he must have wanted it finished like we all did – we had to get to the
desert, a 10 hour drive away the next day or we would not have time to do the
desert scenes before we flew back. I have to admit, even though we probably had
less than a minute of good light to get the shot it was a strangely interesting
|I could see the pain on
Rob’s face as he made his decision and broke eye contact. ‘lets just do it’ he
said. I was relieved, but knew it wouldn’t end there. Rob had bottled it up like
a good vintage, far too important to pour down the sink just yet.
|So we sprinted back to our
cameras. I quickly glanced at the mag on my camera, it only had a few feet of
film left in it. We had to get it in one take. I was running at high speed as
this had to be a slow-motion moment. This meant the film would run out much
faster. A quick adjustment to get the lens flare I wanted in the right place
then I screamed ‘action’ and watched Rob and the boy move together through
screen. I was pleased that Rob had quickly got back into character and was not
showing any signs of the situation that had just ensued. In fact, this shot,
was the ONE shot on the whole movie that was EXACTLY what I was trying for. IT
was cinematically perfect. I was listening intently to the camera hoping with
all my heart that I would not hear that inevitable sound of the film clicking
off from the core and winding its way around its last loop before gently
winding to a halt. This shoot only ever provided small mercies and this would be
one of them – it kept going. It had never happened to me in 20 years of
filmmaking but, as I watched the scene unfold, I found myself yelling ‘yes’ and
shaking my fist in a victorious manner. It was incredibly un-British of me.
|Literally, as soon as I
called cut, the sun was gone and lens flare disappeared. For once, something
had gone our way. Its these moments that a filmmaker lives for. Now darkness
was setting in and we had equipment sprawled all over this place. Chamberlin,
who had witnessed the incident with Rob and Jon, suggested he got Rob out of
there quickly while we wrapped up. It was good with me.
|I attempted a quick ‘well
done’ as I carried my camera past Rob, but it was met with one of his finest
icy stares. Luckily he was whisked away by Chamberlin and co in Tijane’s
pick-up to be taken back to the hotel before he could bump into Jon.
|Suddenly night had closed in
and things turned quite sinister. It was time to hand money out to all the
extras and the local guys were having a tough time controlling the crowds. The
problem was that it wasn’t just the extras we had used that wanted paying.
These people felt we had been filming on their turf and they wanted their slice
too. Not only that but it was getting very difficult to determine who exactly
our extras were within the crowds.
|It was hard enough for us to
push our way through carrying equipment as the van had a sea of people around
it but the guys holding the wedges of cash were almost being ripped apart. I
glanced back and saw Abatcha, who was a tall, well built man being knocked
backwards as crowds of people surged at him to get at his cash. I could see he
was trying to remain humorous, but his smile was entirely fake. His real smile
was broad and stretched to his eyes, this smile had a sole purpose of
maintaining the impression for the crowd that this was still a light-hearted
situation and that he was not in any way a threat to them. I wasn’t sure it
|The crowd intensified around
him, people coming at him from all sides and then I saw his body suddenly drift
left, then right without his feet moving at all, it was a violent, un natural
movement with the sheer force of the crowd – a movement I’ve not seen since the
movie Jaws where the skinny-dipping girl is suddenly lurched one way then the
|It was a frenzy. We all
smelt danger. Even Leke, our fearless Nigerian gaffer/grip looked terrified. He
said ‘this is going to turn bad, I’ve seen people killed in this situation in
|We had no choice but to lock
ourselves in the car, and just drive out of there – even if we had to run
people down, that was the advice ‘don’t think about it, just do anything to get
out of here’.
|We quickly locked up the
back of the van and a bunch of us ran as best we could to the Land Rover, being
clawed at by hundreds of hands. We got to the car then as I went to grab the
key, an awful realisation hit me. Chamberlin had taken it to get a drink from
the cooler in the back. He’d driven off with it and it was locked shut. This
news didn’t go down well with anyone.
|We quickly ran back to the
van and all piled in the cab, twisting and contorting ourselves to all fit in.
We almost couldn’t get the van doors closed and, as we sat there, it rocked
with the motion of the crowd forming around it. It was like we were going to
experience the plot of our script for real. How long could we survive without
food and water, I thought? Then Leke added in rising panic ‘They will break the
windows and pull us out, then hammer a nail into the top of our heads with a
brick’. The look of certainty in his eyes that this horrific act might be what
we were about to face added a sickening feeling to the adrenalin rush I was
experiencing and I very nearly threw up right there and then.
|I patted myself all
over to find my local phone even though I recalled it was running
out of power the last time I used it more than an hour ago. I found
it and pressed a button almost praying that I would see light.
Luckily it had one bar of power left on it and, although my hands
were shaking I managed to dial and got straight through to
Chamberlin. He had the key and turned straight back.
|He had to pull up right
alongside us for us to manoeuvre out of there and it turned out we really did
have to drive at the crowds to get out, but luckily everyone got out of the way
- it was certainly not your average end to a shooting day.