[From Solihull Observer, 12 October 2017:]
There’s a nice article in the autumn edition of Wetherspoon News, in-house magazine of the JD Wetherspoon pub chain, covering my chat with Laurel & Hardy historian John Ullah about local comic Charlie Hall. It was a follow-up to an earlier interview which aired on Made in Birmingham TV and was originally intended to go out on the same show, but our slot was unexpectedly cancelled as part of a programme shake-up at the channel, which has apparently sub-let eight hours of its daily schedule to the Sony-owned TruTV and has consigned much of its locally-produced content to the early hours to stream its new tenant’s American programming. Quite how all this conforms with Made in Birmingham TV’s franchise commitments is up to Ofcom to decide.
[Scan by John Ullah]
The cast and crew of All Bad Things…, photographed yesterday outside the Rajnagar International Restaurant in Solihull.
Left to right: Joe Dempster, Sham Zaman, Gabriela Zogall, Anthony Atkins, Sophie Sharp, Olivia Comer, John Messer, Kevin Clarke, Steve Green, Rob Eadon, Demelza O’Sullivan, Abul Kalam, Liam Woon, Aliy Haycox, Jamie Lambe. Not shown: Chrissie Harper (back behind the camera), David Shakes, Omar Kasis.
Principal photography commenced yesterday morning on All Bad Things…, a short film directed by Chrissie Harper from her own screenplay (developed from an idea of mine). The two leads are played by Liam Woon and Demelza O’Sullivan, with Sham Ali as the waiter. We were generously offered a chance to film at the award-winning Rajnagar International Restaurant in Solihull, which really added to the authenticity of the storyline. There are two short scenes left to shoot, but we hope to have the final edit completed by early October.
Here’s the brand new promotional image for Club Vamporama, featuring Elizabeth Hastings as the mysterious Marie and Dru Stephenson as the somewhat jaundiced Jenni. Photograph and digital design by Chrissie Harper.
With our Club Vamporama teaser “Who is Bette Noir?” filmed and edited, Chrissie Harper and I headed over to a quiet Solihull cul-de-sac on Tuesday morning to shoot “Hail Cthulhu!”, a minisode set in that same universe featuring Dru Stephenson as Jenni and Elizabeth Hastings as Marie. In case you’re wondering, they switched position from Chrissie’s storyboard because Dru pointed out the uneven ground would elevate her to the same apparent height as Lizzie. This was typical of the professionalism, attention to detail and enthusiasm both actors brought to their performances, and we can’t wait to get the finished short film ready for a public screening.
Had some fantastic news yesterday about our short film All Bad Things…, which centres upon a bizarre meeting in a restaurant. Obviously, it’s crucial we get an authentic location for the shoot; no one’s going to be convinced by a couple of trestle tables under a bed sheet.
Well, last night I took a ‘phone call from the owner of an award-winning Bangladeshi restaurant which my late wife and I first visited shortly after its launch in 1987, remaining regulars for the next twenty years. He’d read our proposal and wanted to support the project, offering access to either (or both) of his two premises. It’s a massive thumbs-up for the project, and for everyone working on it.
We’re hoping to schedule the shoot for the last Sunday in July. Now the lead actors and location are in place, we’re looking for volunteers to help out on the day, either behind or in front of the camera. If you’re interested, drop me a line via firstname.lastname@example.org.
Update 30/7/17: Unfortunately, we had to postpone the shoot, but only by a few weeks. As the Romans used to say, festina lente.
Update 10/8/17: The shoot is now scheduled for 20 August.
Further to yesterday’s Club Vamporama update, here’s a screengrab of myself interviewing manager “Jude” (Melyza Fay) at the titular nightspot (portrayed here by Birmingham music venue Route 44, thanks to the generosity of owner Brendon Daly).
Above left: Dru Stephenson as “Jenni”. Above right: Melyza Fay as “Jude”.
In addition to our short film All Bad Things, work continues on our proposal for a tv series adapted from the comic strip Club Vamporama. My colleague Chrissie Harper and I spent the afternoon at Route 44 in Acocks Green, Birmingham, where we shot the second of three mock news reports featuring characters from the show; the third (with Lizzie Hastings as “Marie”) is scheduled for Friday morning.
It’s been a fascinating experience, not least because Chrissie roped me in to play the interviewer; I won’t pretend to have anything like the talent displayed by the actors I was working opposite, but I think I managed to avoid total embarrassment.