I ended my first day on the set of How Not To Live Your Life
Series 3 tied up in S&M gear, running around outside, barefoot, freezing my breasticles off. Although we were filming in July, the weather in Scotland (where we shoot the series) was like a mid-February evening. I was cursing the writer for putting me through all this. Yes, that's right. I was cursing myself.
It's a strange thing. Every year I find myself shooting a scene I deeply regret writing months before. It's normally nudity
or sex scenes. If you've seen any of Series 1
you'll know there are quite a few scenes featuring nudity
or sex. People often ask me if I love getting naked. No I don't. But when I write those kind of scenes I'm not thinking about the fact that I'll have to film them. I've trained myself to forget that something I'm writing might be horrible to shoot. However, that's not the case with the aforementioned S&M scene. As I was writing that particular one, I knew I'd be cursing my own name in a few months time.
The premise - without giving too much away - is that Don has been tied up in chains with a ball-gag in his mouth in preparation for some bizarre sexual encounters. He's not entirely into the idea, but the girl involved is incredibly domineering. The episode ends with Don running around a large country house, hiding from the girl's father. We (myself, the producer Gary Reich and my script editor Drew Pearce) wanted to incorporate more physical comedy into this series. I had recently re-watched the little known Peter Sellers' film The Party
, in which Sellers, as an Indian man, goes to a party in LA and simply wanders around causing minor chaos with very funny slapstick set-pieces. There's very little dialogue in the film and whilst it's by no means perfect, it's occasionally hilarious. I liked the idea of a scene or section of an episode of How Not To Live Your Life
where Don can't speak; hence the ball-gag. But because the scenes amount to about 8 minutes of screen time, this meant me being in the costume on and off, for four days.
I even had another brief stint in that costume a few weeks later. I had to stand on the side of an A-road and act trying to hitch a lift; to real cars driving pass. Even though it was incredibly embarrassing being seen by all those drivers (who, by the way, couldn't see the cameras and therefore thought I was a genuine member of the public trying to hitch a ride in S&M gear!) I could also see the funny side. I mean, if I was driving home one night and saw a man in chains and ball-gag, thumbing a ride, it would probably make my day. One car even turned around to come to pick me up.
So, the next time I write a funny scene involving a hideous situation for Don, maybe I'll hesitate.
Make sure you check back here next week for the second installment of my filming diary.
Dan Clark stars as Don and writes How Not to Live Your Life. Series 3 starts on BBC Three in November.
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