Week 1/4: Life on Mars – Creating a Scene


In this task I’ll be trying to recreate the process the producers went through when trying to create the first 5 minutes of Life on Mars. I’ll be researching the location, Actors, Catering, Cameras, Sound etc. Everything needed for a film set in order to understand the magnitude of pre-production that takes place to create such a short amount of film.


I’d use the location of The Red Road flats in Glasgow, as1 the flats look quite old and rough and there seems to be a lot of empty space around them which helps for space for cast and crew and health and safety reasons. This location would be good as wide shots could be taken from one of the flats in the towers. The towers give a certain look off that makes the area look rough so would be perfect for a kidnapping scene.                                [1]

For the first scene with the main character entering a house I would need to rent out a house for a day. To do this I would research areas on the outskirts of a city and find a house that is currently vacant and speak to the landlord about hiring it out for a number of days to film the scene there. https://www.purplebricks.com/ I could use this site to search for properties to rent. I’d send my Location recce out to look around the area that the house we were using was to see if he can find a suitable location for the alleyway fight scene, and if not to find an alleyway that is right in a different location that could be conceived by the viewer as the same place.


I found this alleyway which is located in Middlesbrough which looks like an ideal location for the scene in the alleyway and the fight. It has bins as well so when the criminal wields the bin lid he can take it from one of them. [2]


Using a website like http://www.castingnow.co.uk/ where you can advertise for acting parts and extras could be very good when trying to find cast members for a TV show like this, as a lot of people would see it and you could get some very skilled actors and actr2esses. Another site where actors advertise themselves is called http://www.peopleperhour.com/freelance/actors this is also good as you could pick actors and actresses that fit your parameters of the characters by their bio and reviews. It helps by being able to see if the actor is reliable and will get the job done to a certain standard by what other people have said about their past work. The creator/actors portfolio is also available so you can see to what standard their content usually is and what kind of acting skills they have.


As this is a BBC production the BBC have a large costume and prop department that we could use for outfits. As seen in this video about the costume designer on the 8th season of Inspector George Gently: http://www.bbc.co.uk/academy/production/article/art20150218105336161

At http://www.tellycars.com/ you can hire genuine police vehicles for the scene at the beginning when Sam Taylor is travelling to the criminals house to try and arrest him.

Computers for the police station will be needed, which can be sourced for cheap on the internet on sites like eBay for around £60 per unit, or if money needs to be saved then cases could be bought if you cannot see the screen, as it doesn’t matter if there’s anything inside.


For the entrance into the house scene suits can be hired for the police detectives that are getting out of the cars from http://www.burton.co.uk/en/bruk/category/formal-hire-281505/home?geoip=noredirect

At http://www.policeuniformhire.com/ you can hire an extensive amount of police uniforms that can be used for the driving scene and the chase scene at the beginning.


For the script I’d employ a professional screenwriter like Tony Jordan, as he has done script work for other drama shows like Minder, City Central and EastEnders.


For the camera I’d use the RED one, as it is currently one of the best cameras on the market. It costs £250 per day to hire or £1250 per week. http://camerakithire.com/

For audio I’d use the RODE NTG2 Shotgun Mic, as I feel this would be sufficient for the sound recording I’d have to do when shooting. http://www.amazon.co.uk/RODE-NTG2-SHORT-SHOTGUN-MICROPHONE-Black/dp/B00093ESSI

For lighting I’d hire http://ftvs.co.uk/ as they have a good resume and have worked with Big Brother, Most Haunted and other dramas.

A custom mount will have to be produced for the wheel shot, as I am not able to find a mount that will fit that position.


http://www.bluefintv.com/ For my crew, as they have over 20 years of experience as a company and have worked with the BBC before and are an approved supplier of them. They can provide anything from:

Directors of Photography, Lighting Camera Op’s, Videographers, Sound Recordists, Camera Assistants Steadicam Operators, Jimmy-Jib Operators, Grips Electricians, Producers Production Managers, Runners, DP’s & DoP’s, Broadcast Editors, Motion Graphics Artists, Autocue / Teleprompter, Photographic Services, Studio & Set-Designers, Hair & Make-up, Artists, Lighting Gaffers, Directors, Creative / Copywriters Production Assistants.

An animal handler will be needed for the chase scene along with a dog, as there is one barking at the main character when he’s running through the house.

(http://www.theknowledgeonline.com/search/MakeUp_Artists) At this website you can find respectable Make up artists to hire with reviews of their previous work.


Permission will be needed from the police and local authorities for multiple things. Permission from the police to have actors wearing police uniforms and having police cars on location. The police will want you to represent them in a positive manner or may not give advice or permission if they think you’re portraying them in a negative way.

Permits of some sort will be needed in order to close the road for the driving scene under the flyover and for when they enter the house. (http://filmlondon.org.uk/filming_in_london/planning_your_shoot/get-permission-film/road-closures-filming) here you can see that it costs £1000-2000 to get a street closed in London and you have to apply at least 8 weeks before and 24 weeks in some places. There is also a 24 hour limit on each order.

Advice from the police will be needed as well, for instance what the main character said when knocking on the door is a police call and they will want to make it realistic so will get what the police would really say.


This task is harder than expected, as there are so many different aspects and components to consider for such a large production. However it is quite easy to get hold of some props I thought would be hard to find. It has helped me to understand just how much work goes into pre-production on even lower budget TV shows, so there must be so much more for feature films.

[1] Urban Explorations, (2007). Red Road Flats, Glasgow. [online] Available at: https://urbanexplorations.wordpress.com/red-road-flats-glasgow/ [Accessed 29 Sep. 2015].

[2] Mail Online, (2013). Gardening? It’s right up our alley! Community transforms Victorian passageway behind homes into oasis of greenery. [online] Available at: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2397899/Community-transforms-Victorian-passageway-Middlesbrough-homes-oasis-greenery.html [Accessed 29 Sep. 2015].

Week 1/4: Life on Mars – Creating a Scene

One thought on “Week 1/4: Life on Mars – Creating a Scene

  1. Cat- a very well researched pice of work here George, I am impressed with the style of writing. To complete this, just remember to include an introduction and also an evaluation about your findings. For the intro, you can write about the task for the day and the tasks you will have to look at. Got he evaluation,you may write about how the task is difficult as there are so many components to consider. Is it possible to do on your own?


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