Bad Day for the Cut (Midnight)
Who: Chris Baugh, director and co-writer
Logline: A middle-aged Irish farmer, who still lives at home with his mother, sets off on a mission of revenge when the old lady is murdered.
The length of the shoot was: 19 days, which isn’t a lot for a thriller that features a fair amount of action. So I was incredibly meticulous in how I worked with every department to plan out the movie. DP Ryan Kernaghan and I spent four days in front of a whiteboard, storyboarding the entire thing. The goal was to be able to tell the story the way we wanted within the parameters of 25-35 setups a day.
Our crew size was: 35. There is an amazing crew base in Northern Ireland, and through years of doing shorts we had built up our own preferred group of collaborators and utilized every skill they had on this movie.
Our camera, lenses and lighting package: We shot on the Red Epic with Cooke S4 prime lenses. We had a range of 14mm-100mm lenses. I became a big fan of the 14mm as it gave us a slightly oddball feeling in certain shots, which suited the tone of the movie. The 25mm became our old reliable.
The first spark of an idea for this movie came when: myself and Brendan [Mullin, co-writer-producer] decided we wanted to write a revenge thriller for Nigel O’Neill. Don’t ask me how we got to “middle-aged farmer who still lives at home with his mother” but that was the first thing that came to mind…
My favorite scene (or shot) in the film is: the first time we see Donal in action and the movie shifts gears in a big way.
An audience watching my film probably won’t know that: it’ll be one year to the day from greenlight to Sundance premiere.
An influence or reference on this film was: County Tyrone in Northern Ireland, where we’re from. The speech patterns, landscape, music and people were a huge influence that is soaked into every frame of the movie.
The weirdest or most difficult location we shot at was: Tyrella Beach [in County Down, Northern Ireland]. Beautiful to look at but incredibly windy, with sand whipping around and getting into every piece of gear making it feel like we were shooting on Fury Road. Sand at a beach. Who knew?
The most expensive thing in our budget was: three extra days on top of our initial three weeks. We just had to make it work after we realized early in prep there was no way we could do this in three weeks.
The greatest flash of inspiration or brilliance we had making this film was: casting Nigel O’Neill.
The biggest lesson I learned making this movie was: to trust my gut when it comes to tone. It’s a very specific thing that’s hard to articulate. You just have to feel it and know at an instinctual level whether its right or wrong. Also, that page count doesn’t necessarily affect how much you can shoot in a day, but scene count does!
A darling I had to kill along the way was: a nice scene with Nigel and the great Ian McElhinney toward the front of the movie that we cut because it was not driving the story forward. We were ruthless about getting the pace of the first act just right.
I need to give a special shout-out to: our funders at Northern Ireland Screen. They’ve been incredibly supportive of Brendan and I since the start of our careers.
When I heard we got into Sundance I: called Brendan and we shouted disbelieving gibberish at each other for a good two minutes. Then I drank.
My favorite film festival moment in my life so far is: Going to Cannes and showing the Bad Day for the Cut market trailer. The reaction to that trailer told us we were on to something good.
I would love to meet Sam Elliott in Park City. How could I not?
I’m most excited about seeing I Don’t Feel at Home in this World Anymore this year. I’m a big fan of Macon Blair and can’t wait to see what he does behind the camera.