Interview: Production Assistant Claire Finn

Interview: Production Assistant Claire Finn
Claire (left) and her sister Alex with Richard Zeman (The Kah'nath Commander)

Claire (left) and her sister Alex with Richard Zeman (The Kah’Nath Commander)

Initially joining Ren as an extra, Claire Finn began helping in various areas behind the scenes, and quickly became one of the core team. We asked her to tell us about her time on the production.

How did you get involved with Ren?

I heard about Ren through my re-enactment group, when the call for extras was sent out. I’ve been re-enacting for about five years and we get film work every now and again and I’ve always really enjoyed it. I’m also a massive Lord of the Rings fan and I was obviously pretty excited to work with Kate and some of the crew from Born of Hope.

Your entire family helped with building the prison set – how did they get roped in?

They’re my own personal construction army! The art department was pretty stretched that day as there was a lot of set construction going on. My sister Alex, my Mum and Dad, and friend Greg also played villagers, and the whole team stopped in after work to give me a hand building the prison set which we needed for the next day. Some people will do anything for a slice of pizza!

An example of Claire's handiwork

An example of Claire’s handiwork

In an earlier post, you explained how you made the Kah’Nath fire arrows. The day of that scene was very busy for you, since you were filling in for both the costume designer and the make-up artist on a day that featured more Kah’Nath soldiers than had ever appeared before. What was that like?

It was pretty crazy, but so much fun! There were several challenges that night on set; we had 12 extras, most of whom were playing new roles and the latest recruits to the Kah’Nath army had to undergo a short boot camp in marching before shooting began. We also had to make a few last minute adjustments to the new layout of the village street. As I was covering the make up and costume departments that day, it was very fortunate that all the lead actors were a dab hand at their own make up and hair, as I am much better with a saw than a hairbrush! It was a chilly night and an army marches on its stomach so keeping everyone warm and fed was important-turns out you can toast a marshmallow on a fire arrow! For braving the cold night air, the archers well earned their fiery glory, especially the helpful folks who moonlighted as a fence for part of the evening.

What were some of the other tasks that you took on during the production of Ren?

One of my favourite things about Ren was working on so many different parts of the project as various departments needed a helping hand. I started off on my first day helping Miriam with repairs to the Kah’Nath uniforms which had a rather hard life. As well as the fire arrows, I made a few other props; my favourite was the prison guard’s board game. I was lucky to work in the art department, helping Amanda and Chris build and dress the interior sets for Ren’s house and the guard room, as well as the prison – now with real moss! The special effects stuff was really fun, particularly operating the the air canons to create explosions, setting up the flaming torches, and using the wind/smoke machines. My most treasured creation, Tony the phoney pony, shall live on forever immortalised in film. Fortunately the cast and crew weren’t subjected to too much of my cooking….

Painting the prison cell

Three Finns painting the prison cell

More on Tony the Phoney Pony in a future post!

Finally Claire, your career in archaeology seems to bear little relation to filmmaking, but could you ever see yourself working on films or series again?

I’ve been an extra in a few minor filming projects before, but this was the first time I’ve been involved as a member of the crew. It was an amazing experience and I loved every minute of it; even the days of shooting in the pouring rain, or trying to nail thatched roofs back on in a hurricane. Luckily archaeology has taught me lots of weatherproofing tricks! I was so privileged to work on such a labour of love like Ren. The very welcoming and talented cast and crew made it an unforgettable time and I can’t wait for more.

Big thanks to Claire for her multitudinous contributions to Ren!

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