Cass’s blog, written in Jan 2017, with Jonathan’s comments in manly blue, and Cass’s rebuttals in lady-like pink.
So here’s the thing: Jonathan is a writer, first and foremost, and though I know he loves our candles, writing is in his blood. By the way, just to reassure everyone, because this could have been awkward, he’s really good at it! Watching from the position of Chief Supporter though, it’s a tough old business. The highs are high – wow! Winning a major screenwriting award in the USA brought forth managers, agents, producers! – but the lows are very low, when said players turn out to be full of hot air. And that is an extremely polite way of putting it. All the same, for a short moment there I was signed by the same agency that had represented Humphrey Bogart. Bogie, for God’s sake! I can die happy.
The award win took place before our move to Spain, and may in fact have been instrumental in the decision – as we’ve said in a very early blog, our initial decision to have a bit of an adventure came partly from exasperation, when we were both feeling thwarted and invisible. Fortunately, the US experience didn’t stop Jonathan writing and the great thing about being a writer is that it’s an entirely portable affair. So, while we became infatuated with the fragrances of our new home and started creating our business, he was still writing film scripts and working hard at finding ways to get one financed and actually made, which is, quite honestly, almost impossible.
I love me a good saying, and the one about if you want to get something done, you’re better off doing it yourself, is particularly resonant here. Jonathan should really be writing this bit (and I rather suspect he will) Pah! You don’t know me! but it seems to me that when inspiration strikes from a lovely instinct, it deserves to become a kind of charmed world. Let me explain: our village has a big, traditional, brass band, which plays at all the local events and fiestas and it often processes (note unusual, but utterly correct, use of the verb form of the noun procession why, thank you *curtseys*) through the village, wending its musical way along the narrow streets. Jonathan was sitting in the square on one of these days, trying to think of a birthday present for me, and it occurred to him that it would be fabulous to create a flash mob with the band, to surprise me (see, I said it was a lovely instinct). The moment he thought it, he could see it as a scene in a feature film, and thus the idea for SOLO! The Musical was born. To find out more about the story, click HERE, but it’s a romantic comedy musical, and is a love letter to our very own village, just as our candles are. And for those who are concerned, I did get Cass an actual birthday present. Several, in fact: a handbag, a giant terracotta pot planted with jasmine, and six gin and tonic glasses. What a guy! I can’t actually drink six G&T’s in one go but I’ll give it a shot. That’s my girl!
How to get it made, though? Having written the script, he first went down the only road he knew: getting a producer on board, who would procure finance. This went disastrously wrong, involving months of unspeakable stress and aggro (I will refrain from name-calling here as what’s in my head is unprintable) but then he talked to his great friend, Nic Cornwall, who is a director, and to cut a long story short, it was decided that Nic would direct it and Jonathan would produce it. For those who are interested, I blogged the entire experience in ‘real time’, ie. not going back over the blogs to correct history. Take a look HERE. It’s what happened, as it happened, even when (ie. in the inevitable event that…) I looked stupid. It covers the making of a micro-budget feature film from conception through to Oscar win (ahem!) Enjoy!
We had sold our big flat in London by then, and we agreed between us to set aside some money to support our candle business and, now, to make the film. It was a micro-budget affair, by the way – the flat wasn’t THAT big! My agreement to stump up some cash makes me an Executive Producer, which I find VERY cool she has already put a megaphone on her next birthday wish list.
So after the months of stress and aggro, now came months of stress and panic (what?! no-one warned me!) BUT with a wonderful team in place. Nic brought on board Alex Metcalfe, a phenomenally talented Director of Photography, and the two of them are some of the nicest blokes I’ve ever met. Cass doesn’t get out much – they’re both arses. Silly boys’ banter!
Back in Spain by now (April 2016), after winter in London, and our front door started revolving with an incessant stream of film-related visitors. Jonathan (this is feeling very formal, as I usually call him JH) collaborated with a wonderful composer, Joe Rose, and he has written an original score, which is as hauntingly beautiful and moving as you could wish for. Listen HERE to the very first, rough draft – just Joe and a guitar And he was a lovely house guest. Unless he’s reading this, in which case he’s an arse, too! Sigh!
Time cantered on and the dates were set for the actual shoot. Three weeks, starting in late June, which was a break-neck schedule (I now know this; I didn’t have a clue before Nor me – this was all a front seat, white-knuckle-ride, learn-on-the-job approach to Producing!), and the cast and crew had to be housed in the village. When I say cast, this happened very late in the whole process, note different, but equally correct, use of the noun ‘process which amazed me. We were sent video auditions to view (the casting agent sent out scripts to agents, and then actors would decide if they wanted to put themselves forward), and once we found ones we liked, Nic would meet and test them in person. I really enjoyed watching the auditions, though I felt unpleasantly powerful when I saw ones I didn’t like with a conscience like that you’ll never make a real Exec Producer! Good (how actors bear that process I don’t know), but when we found our stars, THAT was a moment. Tristam Summers, Candela Gomez, Ben Freeman and Jaime Pujol were just perfect casting and, because this was now becoming the charmed project it deserved to be, thoroughly, thoroughly good people.
Part 2 next week…