With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, Amazon Prime Video in the US and Sky Cinema in Europe are gifting early to get viewers in the mood with the first screening of the romantic comedy Book of Love, starring Sam Claflin (Peaky Blinders, Enola Holmes) and Verónica Echegui (Fortitude).
Based on an original idea by David Quantick (Veep), Book of Love tells the story of young, uptight and unsuccessful English writer Henry, whose only novel sells to no one. But when his book is suddenly a surprise hit in Mexico, his publicist insists he travel there on a promotional tour. Upon arrival, a confused Henry discovers the reason behind his novel’s popularity – Mexican translator María has rewritten his dull book into a steamy erotic novel. Henry, furious, and María, reluctant, must now travel together on a book tour across Mexico. As tempers flare and sparks begin to fly, the two begin to find love and lust despite themselves.
Naysun Alae-Carew, Blazing Griffin Pictures, worked alongside producers Michael Knowles (North of Watford Films), Allan Niblo, Richard Alan Reid (Buzzfeed Studios), and Nick Spicer and Maxime Cottray (XYZ Films), to bring this romantic comedy to a global audience. The film is an Amazon Prime Original in North America, and a Sky Original film in the UK, Germany, and Italy.
Filming was originally due to start in the Canary Islands in 2019 but when the pandemic hit and this proved unfeasible, a swift change of plans found Mexico to be the ideal location. Naysun, together with Charlotte Walsh, Executive Head of Post Production at Blazing Griffin, set out for Mexico in March 2021 to start filming.
Charlotte Walsh, post producer & executive head of Blazing Griffin Post, said: “As a post producer, I believe that being involved from the very start of a project and being on set for the shoot provides huge benefits for both production and post production. The line between creativity and technology blurs more these days than it used to and having post production input right from the start, especially when there is a lot of VFX involved, makes a much smoother process for everyone and allows the production to maximize its resources. Every film presents its own challenges and I enjoy the creativity in finding the right solutions to each one.
“This was a particularly unique project for me as it was my first coming back from maternity leave and taking my 10 month old daughter to Mexico during a pandemic for a 5 week shoot followed by what was an intensely condensed post schedule (we cut the film in 6 weeks!) meant a whole new level of sleep deprivation. I felt grateful to be part of a project that, whilst demanding, was very accepting of my circumstances and welcomed my daughter along the journey throughout the shoot, edit, grade and mix.”
Working to a tight schedule, the film required two editors, Berny McGurk from Blazing Griffin, editor, added: “The fast turnaround of ten weeks from assembly to picture lock necessitated two editors working in harmony to turn the movie around on time. We both had our own misgivings about how we could make it work, not only about how we divide the workload but also being nervous about showing each other our work and making ourselves vulnerable professionally. We decided that serving the story was the priority and pretty much straight away we were passing scenes back and forth freely for each other’s eye to make the movie punch at its best. The process was a joy from start to finish.”
Mark Thornton, freelance editor, added: “I fell in love with the script of Book of Love, so I was delighted that remote technology was going to make it possible for me to edit a film shot in Mexico, collaborating closely with another editor and producers in Glasgow and L.A. from my shed in Hertfordshire!
“The premise was smart and funny, the performances of the two leads pitch perfect, and all set against beautiful Mexican scenery making it a joy to sit down to work each morning. Working closely with fellow editor Berny was encouraging and stimulating, and I’m really proud of the end product.”
Working during the COVID-19 pandemic on an international co-production presented the Post team with various challenges. Colin Brown, colourist, Blazing Griffin, said: “The biggest challenge in the grade was that key members of the team were working from different time zones. We had Naysun (Producer) and Charlotte (Post Producer) in our grading suite in Glasgow, Analeine (Director) in Mexico, Gerardo (DOP) in Prague, as well as Producers and Execs across the UK and US. I uploaded grades for the team to review on Frame IO, and used their feedback to refine the look.
I always group scenes in DaVinci Resolve 17, so after smoothing out the shots at the clip level to get them to match, I could then quickly change the creative looks at the scene level. It’s a quick process, and you can immediately play the scene through with the look applied. This also meant it was easy to swap out looks based on the feedback from the team.”
Jon Bruce, online editor, Blazing Griffin, concluded: “At first look this isn’t a necessarily complicated film to get through final post. However, delays to the start of filming due to the pandemic meant we had only 10 weeks between picture lock and final delivery. Every shot involving a car (bearing in mind this is a road movie) was VFX (done by Automatik in London) so throw that in with the late addition of on screen graphics scattered throughout the film (designed by our inhouse graphics artist Sam Goodwin) and using software called Video Enhance AI for upscaling a significant number of shots meant little to no margin for error in the workflow.
“We ran a DPX workflow to allow maximum flexibility for multiple artists and processes to be able to work concurrently without disruption to each other. Book of Love was a great project to be involved in. A challenge of course, but very satisfying for the entire team when it finally delivered.”