A fantastic response to A Penny For Them at it’s premiere screening in December as part of the 2 Short Nights Festival in Exeter – we are really pleased with the way it’s turned out and are busy submitting it into International Festivals hither and thither. It just got into it’s first one, Goa International Festival in India – lets hope that’s the first of many. Meanwhile, Mrs Lustleigh’s Fancies has also been selected for a Festival in France later in the year which is rather jolly!
More news soon, in the meantime, here are some stills from the finished film….
A HUGE thank you to everyone who has supported our Crowdfunder Campaign. It has been really successful, hitting and then going over the target by the deadline. We are now hard at work getting everything together for the shoot which is creeping ever nearer! so much to do…
The Vikings, although seen mostly silhouetted against the sky, still need to be kitted out in as authentic a costume as possible. As they feature in the dream/nightmare sequences we decided we’d like them to look a little more ‘magical’ than your usual helmet and horns imagery. So, inspired by the incredible work of our friend the artist Barbara Keal who makes beautiful sculptural headwear out of felt, we have been hard at work fashioning these Viking headdresses using fleeces from our farmer neighbour. With a lot of help and the lending of tools from the lovely Roz Barker – it’s been a time consuming but enjoyable process! Here’s a photo of the first one to be finished.
A bit rough and ready but will hopefully do a good job. It’s made me appreciate even more the incredible skill and hours of work that go into Barbara’s beautiful pieces – take a look at her website and be transported!!
Our Crowdfunder campaign has been tearing along, 80% funded already. Thank you to everyone who has supported us so far, we so appreciate it! To give the Campaign a boost and to gently remind those who intended to pledge but forgot to get round to it, we have made a couple of wee promos… here is the first, A Message From Dr Anna Solv – Take a look.
We have launched a Crowdfunder Campaign to help fund our new film A Penny For Them… !
We have lots of great rewards to encourage you to support us – including playing a VIKING in the film ! if you don’t fancy yourself in hessian, maybe you’d like a lovely limited edition print inspired by the storyboard, or a day out on the Moor hunting Treasure in the form of a ‘Seolfor Penning’, a Viking Charm to bring you good fortune, Magical Runes or maybe you fancy being an EXECUTIVE PRODUCER… all these things and more are available at www.crowdfunder.co.uk/A-Penny-For-Them - please do take a look and support us if you can.
Back in February, we put in a little idea to the Phoenix Bursary scheme for a short film called A Penny For Them – It’s the story of an uptight English businessman who is troubled by reoccurring nightmares of endlessly running for his life through a foreboding wilderness whilst being chased by some dark and malevolent force. Distraught and exhausted, he goes to see a Skandinavian psychotherapist specialising in sleep problems. She hypnotizes him in an attempt to get to the root of these anxieties, and what she discovers takes them both on a journey of unexpected consequence. Featuring Ancient Britons, marauding Vikings, the beautiful Dartmoor wilderness, and a large number of ‘Silfor Phennigs’ * – this darkly comic psychological thriller with a twist in the tale will hopefully bear all the hallmarks of Oddbodies’ previous work – a compelling story shot in intriguing settings, beautifully drawn characters, imaginative art direction and scrupulous attention to detail, all brought together with a highly distinctive and originally composed soundtrack…
After a a rather gruelling interview (a panel of 8 big adults and one little baby) we were a bit surprised and extremely pleased to be given the Crowdfunder Bursary. This means Exeter Phoenix Digital will give us part of the money on the proviso we raise the other part through a crowd funding campaign. So, we are currently in the process of putting together our campaign and planning our film – shooting promos, finding locations, making runes (more about this later) sourcing ancient silver pennies, fine tuning the script, pinning down crew, thinking about costumes, logistics, schedules, budgets, etc etc etc
It’s been a while since The Nature of Angrove, and it will be great to get some of the key members of the creative team behind that project back together again for this (slightly twisted) tale of greed, fear, vikings and taxes…
There will be more details about the film coming soon, but in the meantime, here’s an image of a Lydford ‘Sifor Phennig’* (*silver penny) which plays a significant part in the story…
Just looking over the website today making plans for a bit of updating, I was struck by the image we use on our workshop page. It is a photo of a very young Ruby taken by Tim Nunn for the BAC’s publicity material for our show The Rake’s Progress. I can’t remember exactly, but I think this must have been back in 2004. Now this doesn’t seem a million years ago to me, but seeing this in connection with our most recent project has really brought home how fast the last 10 years have flown and how much we’ve crammed in to that time…
Just the other week we roped Ruby into getting in front of the camera for us yet again, this time to shoot a little video for the first track from the forthcoming Ma Bain album Poor Fool… (more news about that coming soon). The song is called Blanket of Snow. We were due to shoot the whole thing at Castle Drogo (which is currently wrapped in acres of white tarpaulin and the insides all put away behind tissue paper and hardboard) but unfortunately the weather did for us. High winds had blown the scaffolding into dangerous shapes and on the morning of the shoot, no one was allowed within 40 metres of the place. Our intrepid DoP the marvellous Christopher D Jones Esq had already got hold of a slomo camera for the day, so we made the decision to go ahead and shoot anyway, improvising something in our local village hall which they very kindly let us have at the last minute.
It is certainly not what we’d planned, but the end result, if a little meandering, is very beautiful and rather mesmerising. So, here she is again, the marvellous Ruby Morel - a little older than she was in the BAC flyer, but definitely just as compelling. Here’s to the next 10 years…
Some months ago we were asked by the Arts Officer at West Devon Borough Council to give a little presentation to a gathering of local creative business folk on the subject of crowd funding. One of the aspects of the campaign that attracted the most interest was the little virals we’d made to promote our it. One guy in particular was really keen, and asked us make one for him to promote his website business, a Company called 2Day Microportals (www.microportals.co.uk). After a few meetings and some back and forth finding a suitable location, we finally shot this little Ad last week at the Bedford Hotel in Tavistock. They could only allow us to film after 9 O’clock at night for obvious reasons. The Hotel was fairly quiet, but there were still plenty of guests wondering about giving the new ‘Receptionist’ a bit of a curious once over and Paul’s pain-in-the-bum guest a wide berth. The pressure was on, and with our micro cast and crew of 4 we managed to set up and shoot the whole thing in less than 2 and a half hours, (thanks mainly to the wonder that is Chris Jones and the marvellous Tom Barwood). And, with the magic of Final Cut Pro X, we had the film pretty well done by the end of the very next day. You can watch the finished Ad here
By the way, the little bit of music we used is by Ma Bain our incredible in-house composer (Paul, in other words) who has been really hard at work these last few months writing and producing an entirely new album of beautiful songs – we are very excited about this project and we will be writing more about this in the next few months…
Some years ago we produced and toured a theatre show called ‘See Them Cows? They Don’t Know Nothing About London’. It was a very physical and fairly abstract devised work that told the story of the city from it’s bucolic beginnings through to modern times – rather ambitiously cramming 2000 years of history into 80 mins. Atmospheric soundscapes were created with a strange array of implements hanging from an old clothes rail, and a number of weird and wonderful characters popped up to tell their tales and give a brief glimpse of London during their particular era.
One of the oddest scenes was a 1950′s boarding house populated by a bunch of eccentric residents each with a story to tell. None more colourful than the posh old landlady fallen on hard times (‘Mrs P’ – beautifully played by Paul in a pink headscarf!) who worked her way up the house introducing all the residents to the newest lodger on the way. Among them was ‘Mary’ a chirpy cockney saucepot/’school teacher’ who could be heard giving ‘correctional instruction’ to her ‘uncle’ who turns out to be a High Court Judge. ‘Jones the Professor’ a welsh opera singer with too much charm and too little talent. ‘Moose’ a giant monosyllabic bruiser who probably ‘worked’ for the Kray Twins but who adored his tiny pet canary. We found them all hilarious, slightly grotesque and definitely a little larger than life. But just recently we came across this incredible little film on the BBC archive , exploring exactly the kind of house we’d had in mind when putting our show together. It was like finding some footage of old friends – making us realise that, compared to the real people, the characters we’d created were far from being over the top.
The film is a very early short from Ken Russell and tells the story of an old town house in Bayswater populated by a disparate bunch of folk all introduced to us by the extraordinary landlady who bore more than a passing resemblance to Paul’s creation. It ‘s an astounding little film – capturing a moment in history just before it disappeared for ever as all those beautiful old houses, so crammed with character and ‘characters’, were being pulled down to make way for the new high rise blocks of the future. It’s really worth a watch – The wonderfully enthusiastic yet slightly tragic dance teacher who appears to have only one pupil. The ‘art’ photographer who makes his living snapping girls in bath tubs on the roof. The pigeon loving spinster who’d once been a ladies’ maid in New York, and the amazing landlady with her long white tresses and an eye for a bargain, still optimistic that one day she might find a new husband amongst the treasures on the Portobello Road. It’s like looking through a tiny window into the past, and a little reminder of the old saying that fact is usually stranger than fiction – funny, nostalgic and inspiring, I recommend you give it a watch… A House In Bayswater.
When was the last time you got a letter from someone that had been written by hand? I can hardly remember, they come so infrequently these days. The only person I can think of who still communicates by the handwritten letter is our set designer Nick Watkinson. Now Nick is a genius and therefore a little eccentric. He refuses to have an email account or a mobile phone, utterly frustrating in this world of instant messaging – but on the plus side, when he does get in touch, his letters are always hand written and accompanied by the most wonderful drawings and/or diagrams – they are charming, personal and and a joy to receive.
There is a great article in the Guardian (from a book called Missing Ink by the writer Philip Hensher) which talks about how special handwriting is because of the way it’s imbued with the personality of the writer. ‘In the second year at school, our form teacher had a way of writing a 7 in the European way, with a cross-bar. A world of glamour and sophistication hung on that cross-bar; it might as well have had a beret on, be smoking Gitanes in the maths cupboard.’ As children our handwriting would change dramatically depending on who we were currently admiring or trying to be – remember the craze at school for everyone to dot their ‘i’s with circles and hearts?
Writing by hand is also meant to be a way of tapping in to our creativity. Julia Cameron in her book ‘The Artist’s way’, advocates that as a creative person you should write continuously for 10 minutes every morning before you do anything else. Just the process of your hand unsensored on the page is a way of clearing the mind to make way for creative thinking. It takes discipline, but apparently it really does work – This is what she says about it on her blog…
‘Morning Pages are three pages of longhand, morning writing about anything. There is no wrong way to do Morning Pages, and they are for your eyes only. Doing Morning Pages, we find that we go into our day with more clarity. Although they do take time (about 30-40 minutes), they actually make more time than they take because we move more efficiently through our day. They are three, single-sided, 8.5×11 pages (so in other words, not 6 pages). Yes, they must be done in the morning. Yes, they must be done by hand.’
As Paul is currently hard at work on the umpteenth draft of our feature-length script, it’s been fascinating watching him go back and forth endlessly between notebook and keyboard, alternately hand writing and typing up as he goes. He certainly finds it more difficult to ‘write’ directly into the computer – Creatively, ideas have to go from his head to the page via the pen in his hand. He has very particular likes when it comes to his tools too (lined foolscap paper and black gel pens are his preference, although he’s recently switched to Bics as a cost consideration).
Our great friend, the writer Sebastian Baczkiewicz (creator, among other things, of the amazing Pilgrim series for Radio 4) has had, for all the many years I’ve known him, what can best be described as a ‘writer’s lump’ on the middle finger of his right hand – evidence of the endless hours he’s spent holding a pen. For a man who conjours up such beautiful and magical stories, you might imagine his handwriting to be dramatic and full of florish. But it’s not – It’s robust and honest and solid – and (something I find hilarious given how much he writes), not even joined up. I would recognise his writing anywhere, as I would for almost everyone I love.
One of my greatest ‘clearing out’ regrets was a hat box of old papers which, in a fit of ‘Fueng Shui’ I turfed onto a bonfire about 10 years ago. Some time later, I realised that box had contained many letters my father had written to me when I was at school – daft little stories and jokes to entertain. He’d always play around with my name on the envelope; Tanya Scott-Wilson would become ‘Tinyer Scatt-Woslin’ – evidence of his mischievous and maverick nature, as he knew how much it would irritate the staff and amuse me in equal measure. How I would love to have those letters now that he is no longer here to write me any more.
Haven’t seen Joe Wright’s Anna Karenina yet, but am looking forward to it, in spite of (or rather because of) all the furore about the whole thing having been set in a theatre… This is certainly not the first film to use this idea, and oddly enough we’ve watched a number of old films recently that have done exactly that. Two of them are also by the same director. Max Ophüls’ Lola Montès, is a bizarre yet totally compelling biography told in flashback through a circus show depicting scenes from her life. La Ronde, (based on the stage play by Arthur Schnitzler) is a carousel of stories depicting love and infidelity – where the actors sometimes walk from one scene to another, and theatrical paraphernalia (ladders and lighting rigs) can clearly be seen.
The other thing both these films have in common is that they star my current obsession, the incredible Anton Wallbrook. He is nowhere near as well known as he should be given how amazing he is. Some of his other films include Powell & Pressburger’s Life and Death of Colonel Blimp, The Red Shoes and Thurrold Dickinson’s The Queen of Spades.
This last one is an absolute cracker and has been hugely inspirational in the way we’ve been thinking about the settings for Oddbodies’ current project, our first feature-length film script with the working title The Doorman and the Usherette… Given the title, it will come as no surprise to know that the theatre features heavily in the piece.
When talking about film, some people apply the term ‘theatrical’ rather sneeringly - But we see it as a virtue ! (it’s certainly something all our films have been accused of being!) For The Queen of Spades, Dickinson recreated St Petersburg in 1815 , on a shoestring, and in a tiny old studio in Welwyn Garden City, (apparently next door to the Shredded Wheat factory). it’s fantastically theatrical – atmospheric, haunting and magical, He manages to create the illusion of freezing, snow swirling street corners complete with horses and carriage in what was probably a very modest space. We haven’t even started set building yet. but when we do, this film will definitely be our inspiration.