“NEVER WORK WITH CHILDREN, ANIMALS OR DINOSAURS!”
Damn you, Brain!
Sometimes I wish I my mind would switch off when we discuss project ideas or here are calls for a film script to suit a competition theme at our club meetings; it always ends with many sleepless nights and unnecessary stress – for me at least. Yet, rather annoyingly when the end product comes together so well and I realise something pretty good grew from a brief image flashing in my neurologically aberrant brain, perhaps I should cut my fertile imagination some slack.
For the uninitiated or those with short memories, way back in April, our club treasurer David “Offshore Account” Laker was hosting the club meeting and mentioned former OVFM Chairman Chris Coulson has acquired a live(ish) dinosaur which he named Dexter and had kindly offered to allow the club to film his new pet one club evening.
The annual North vs. South competition was also a point of discussion and we needed scripts to fulfil the theme of “Out Of The Blue”. David quipped that if we could combine the two ideas it would save a lot of time. So of course my brain defied all orders to sit quietly and let someone else respond to David’s call to arms, and immediately produced an image of Dexter leaning over two shocked and scared looking people.
My deviant grey matter also decided these people should be parents of a young woman introducing her new boyfriend to them, Dexter being the boyfriend. By the time I got home that night a half-formed scenario occupied my head, and eventually I was forced into submission. A few days later I sat before my PC, opened up Celtx and began to transfer the mini-film playing in my head into script form and within a matter of hours I had the first draft completed.
At the club meeting on June 7th I bravely submitted my script – now entitled MEET DEXTER – to the club for consideration. I’m the world’s worst public orator so heaven knows how my pitch sounded to my fellow club members but I wasn’t confident I had conveyed my idea successfully, yet somehow I was persuaded to keep working on it and begin the storyboarding and blocking.
With MEET DEXTER apparently going ahead after all, we needed to begin securing the vital assets of the production, such as location, crew and cast. Simon “Snapper” Earwicker, our chairman and reigning Hide & Seek champion, suggested we contact Olive Allen, widow of OVFM stalwart Derek, to see if we could use her garden which I was told was “quite big”.
Quite big? Try @!%*$?# HUGE!! It ran on for miles and would divert off into another spacious hideaway which in turn would reveal a verdant labyrinth, shaded by a canopy of towering trees and divided by thick hedges. I actually discovered a tribe of pygmies settled in the undergrowth behind the garden shed, who thought they were in the Amazon, blaming their Sat Nav for not suggesting they turn left at Albuquerque.
But it was the centrepiece of the garden, a stone paved square with surrounding low walls that sold me on this wonderful expanse of land being perfect for the shoot and Olive was gracious enough to confirm her permission for us to use it. So August 16th was marked in the diary, the day OVFM, the actors, Chris and 7 ft dinosaur would descend upon Chez Allen.
At this point it seemed that only I was aware that this was a club film and not a personal project so I was getting a little worried no-one had volunteered to help as per the request on the website. Thankfully David put the word out at the annual garden party and without the use of incriminating photos, managed to secure our crew.
Next was the casting. I had asked a few people that I had worked with on prior films if they would be interested but they were either on holiday on that filming date or were still traumatised from working with me before. I put out casting calls on social media with sadly little response, aside from two women I had to pass on for logistical reasons.
Luckily Anna Littler came to the rescue by referring me to Blitz And Bananas alumna Sue Gray to play Sandra and Hannah Whitehead, a budding actress and model to play Tilly. Rather fortuitously, Hannah has an older sister Beth, also an actress, so that was an extra role fulfilled too. The final piece of the puzzle was our male lead, the call answered by David Wrighton to play Ron after I e-mailed a number of local theatre groups for actors.
How would the shoot go? Find out in part two coming soon!
Words: Lee Relph
Photos: Kuldip Kuar