Curfew – car chases, zombies and a lot of night shoots

At the very start of 2018 I went on a 2 day recce for a new Sky One drama series in and around Manchester and Liverpool. I didn’t know much more about it than that at the time. Whilst looking over the storyboards and I was handed as I got on the recce bus I started to see this wasn’t your ordinary kind of drama. I saw some sort of demon/zombies attacking people in the streets and an array of armoured cars racing and fighting each other through dystopian city streets. I was excited!

Our first, of what became 28 shoot dates, was on the 19th feb 2018 in central Manchester. We were jumping straight in at the deep end filming the opening shot of the series, which included hand catching the drone mid shot to transition from an aerial descent into a slow hand held track back down a tight alley way as we revealed the first vehicle and protagonist of the series. It was also our first night shoot, finishing at 3am on a cold February night. We were back working with our favourite DOP Suzie Lavelle along side director and exec producer Colm McCarthy, of Peaky blinders, Sherlock fame. It was quite a long and intense first night as we were working in an extremely central and congested area, flying in narrow alley ways with all the GPS and signal interference that can give and working with multiple moving vehicles and crew, all in the dark! We were also using the hand catching technique for the first time ever on a shoot and trying to nail the opening shot. Despite all the technical difficulties, cold and long hours we came away with a string of shots we were very happy with on the night. Having now seen the first episode of curfew I can see that they came out extremely well and i’m very happy with what we achieved.

From there the shoots ramped up throughout February, March, April, May and June with us flying in more super central locations in Liverpool, London and Manchester, in and around the peak district and a week filming up in the Highlands in Scotland. The longest and coldest of these night shoots was in Manchester just as the beast from the east hit and we were sat out in -6c temperatures till 6am! This was filming the start of the race sequence with around 25 mad vehicles of every kind lined up in a huge circle all trying to get through the one small exit at the same time. There were school buses, super cars, motor bikes, family estates, monster trucks, tow trucks, ambulances and camper vans all armoured, customised and pimped out in varying ways. We spent several further nights on this sequences filming big crash sequences alongside a techno crane. By this time we had moved mainly onto the action unit whose main remit was till film all the chase, race and crash sequences with none of the main actors and just the stunt crew. This was the perfect place to be as a drone operator and a hell of a lot of fun!

The action unit shoots carried on with the same mix of long nights, stunt vehicles, high speed flying, crashes, chases, hard work and a lot of fun. Highlights of the shoot over those months were tracking a Mclaren P1 down Water street (one of the main streets) in Liverpool, having a motorway locked off for us to fly on all night in Manchester and having a week in glorious summer weather in the Highlands filming and endless stream of crazy chase sequences, car crashes and mad goings on! It was especially good to not be doing night shoots anymore by this stage but the endless swarm of midges made up for it!

We had more shoot days on Curfew than on any other project we’ve done before. The night shoots were tough, as were a lot of the locations and scenes we were filming but we loved working on it. To have a chance to work on a series, consistently, all the way through was brilliant and gave us an involvement we haven’t had before. Working for such a long period with the stunts and action unit was also a first and great experience for us. Its one thing to be given an amazing landscape to film in but when some one tells you your going to get to film super cars, monster trucks and motorbikes drive at high speed, fire guns and smash into each other, thats quite an exciting and unique situation to be in. We loved working on Curfew and after seeing episode one we’re really excited with how its come out and can’t wait to see more.

Thanks to everyone we worked with on it. Hoping for a season 2!

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