PRODUCTION

Having written the first draft of SMALL TIME OBSESSION in 1995, it took writer/director Piotr Szkopiak five years to produce the completed film. "I had written another script before this one but it was too ambitious to be my first film," outlines Piotr. "SMALL TIME OBSESSION was more realistic in terms of production and something I thought I might be able to make using my own resources. The thing was that I was pretty much on my own because I had no connections with the industry and was a complete unknown. I had experience but hadn't really made anything that could prove I could handle a feature film."

SMALL TIME OBSESSION was shot over five weeks at locations in and around South London from South Kensington to Balham to Catford to Woolwich. "I wanted to shoot the London I knew as a little boy," explains Piotr. "I love London because it is so diverse. I've lived here all my life and there are still loads of places I haven't seen."

However, with twelve different locations in which to film, this meant the crew had to move to a new location almost every three days. "If you want to make a low-budget film, the perceived wisdom is that you should not have a lot of locations and you should not attempt action sequences," says Piotr. "I tried to do both because I didn't want the film to look low-budget. I tried to make the film I had first envisaged in my head when I wrote the script. I'd never say it was easy but I'll never regret it. The more someone tells you it can't be done, the more you want to do it."

Working on such a tight budget, Piotr did not have the luxury of a long period of pre-production. This meant that most of the crew only met on the first day of the shoot, which was not ideal. "The worst part of not having any money is that you have no guarantees. You are totally reliant on goodwill," says Piotr. "This means that you can lose cast, crew or locations at the drop of a hat, even once you've started. With everything that can go wrong, and most of it does at some point, I was amazed how it all came together." He adds, "These were people that did not know each other and, in the majority of cases, had never worked on a feature film before. For me, this truly shows what can be done if everyone works together."

"I read once that the hardest part of any film is getting to the first day of principal photography. Once you're there, the film will get done. I think that's true because once you start shooting, you will do everything you can to finish it because you have no choice. Everyone has committed themselves and it is too late to back out. Without a finished film, all the hard work you've done is for nothing."

During the shoot, Piotr also had to juggle producing duties with his role as the director. "I feel very privileged to have worked with such a professional cast and crew," says Piotr. "Because the shooting schedule was so tight and I was the director as well as the producer, I really had to trust all the departments to look after themselves, which they did. Also, having worked with the actors in rehearsal, I had little time to work with them on the day so they had to be fully prepared once shooting began, which they were, every time."

PRODUCTION