One bookshop, four performers and a lot of laughing. Let loose in the (now very sadly closed) LXV Books on Roman Road we spent a glorious afternoon riffing and improvising in the treasure trove of books. One game involved an interviewer approaching one of the performers browsing in the bookshop and asking what they were going to buy – at which point the browser would look in their bag and pull out a book that another performer had placed there. I got the British Locomotive Shed Directory. And Sarah came into being. Gently coaxed into life by Hetty, Sarah is a Locomotive Shed spotter (trains being too noisy and scary) And I really liked her.
The flipping talented Greg Wohead then took the audio that we recorded and working with Doug Lyon was inspired to create a short film as part of Straight 8 – a competition that Greg sums up brilliantly, you make “a film on a Super 8 camera with a single roll of film. No editing, no retakes. You just shoot the film, record the audio and send it in. The first time you ever see your own film is at a screening with everyone else.”
So, one sunny day, I went with Sarah (and Greg, Hetty, Doug, Caitlin and Anna and headed to a railway station in North London for a day of filming. It’s pretty exciting knowing that you’ve got one take – that’s it. It’s also really liberating – you just have to relax and go with the flow. I spent some time before the day – armed with Greg and Doug’s storyboard – working out how Sarah might dress and what she would take in her bag on these little adventures. It was a gentle way to discover a character, letting her emerge in the selection of items she packed, and finding her physicality through the clothes she liked to wear. It was a lovely sunny day and a playful atmosphere, I was a bit sad to say goodbye at the end of the day.
And Sarah got selected to be shown! The first time we saw the film was on 26 July at the ICA as part of the Rushes Soho Shorts Festival. It was a real treat to see all the other films and a delight to see Sarah on the big screen. This relaxed, improved way of working really suited me and I loved the collaborative, organic growth of the character and the film. Another lesson in JFDI – there’s a theme emerging here.
Have a look at the film
Photo’s by Greg Wohead
July 2011 (ish)