5 days in the life of ... Jamie Payne

A first-time film director on set with Kenneth Branagh, Paul McGann and Pat Cash

MONDAY: I'm making a First World War film, and I arrived at an old school in Bushey to be greeted by John Box, the production designer for Lawrence of Arabia, Dr Zhivago and Oliver!, and Jack Cardiff, the cinematographer who won an Oscar for Black Narcissus. Then, Kenneth Branagh and Paul McGann called through the walkie-talkies. I thought 'I've got to go for it'. Ken had phoned me on Sunday and said "Don't be shy if you feel I'm crap". Afterwards, someone asked if I was nervous. I said to Ken, "Surprisingly, no, and I don't understand why." Kenneth said: "You've probably reached 25,000 feet so you've got beyond terror." It's very difficult not to relax around Ken.

TUESDAY: Internal hospital scenes today. Pat Cash is playing a British gunner; my girlfriend manages him. I don't know any man who wouldn't relish dressing up as a soldier. But he's only going to be featured for a couple of seconds. The film is called The Dance of Shiva, and tells the unknown story of Indian troops in the First World War. I came into contact with Jack and John after I felt that 100 years of cinema weren't being commemorated. I was very arrogant, and approached Bafta and said, "If you give me your building, I will give you a celebration." They laughed and said "Who are you going to get?" I told them I was going to approach Kenneth Branagh, Mike Figgis and others.They said, "You get them to do it and we'll help with the building."

WEDNESDAY: Went to pick up the actor Julian Glover. I worked in a video shop before, and met Julian there and he was always supportive. I thought "If any man can play a general, he can", and he was only too pleased to oblige. And with Paul McGann, I've never met a more generous actor. Jack Cardiff is 83, and we found a story [about soldiers] from the year he was born. At the end of the filming, we were all exhausted, but he was still going. There was no way I was stopping with Jack still going. We finished at 5.30am.

THURSDAY: We have 20 actors who've been drilled on the parade ground. They were being put through their paces, and the 20 are going to be turned into 200 by crowd multiplication. We have lots of special effects with the German soldiers, including a battlefield.

FRIDAY: I've found it difficult to sleep this week. I don't want to miss anything, and there's such a great feeling on set. It's been a fight to get the project together, but whenever the clapper board goes up and I see "Director Jamie Payne" alongside "Jack Cardiff", I have a little chuckle.

Interview by Rachelle Thackray

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