Over the past six months i have been working on a brand new short film.
Husky is a short film a bout perception – how others perceive the central character as the film unfolds through his eyes. But it is also about redemption – we follow our character through to the end; towards his new start. I have always looked at the film as a lukewarm emotional rollercoaster, in that we see highs and lows of not just Vnny – the lead character – but of all the other characters too. Why ‘lukewarm’ – well it doesn’t have intense action sequences, it doesn’t have waves of people crying. But it does have a nice warming spell/ tone about it.
The film cuts in at just over 20 minutes – so longer than any of my previous work and more worthy of the title ‘short film’ as apposed to ‘short video’ or ‘sketch’. Although these minutes are spread across several narrative strains, each line revolves around Vinny.
Visually Husky is neither bold nor completely dazzling. But it is enough. I think that my previous film ‘The Dark and Light’ is much more impressive visually but that really isn’t the purpose of Husky. Husky has nice panning, dolly’s etc – but it is rough and rugged – in some cases i used shakier shots over the tripod shots we recorded simply because Husky is a beast – an animal of a film with an incredibly fitting title. But i quiet animal: with whimpers and screeches that feel like roars.
I wrote the film back in April after i drew a single shot of a man sitting on a bench dressed as a tramp. From that, i wrote the first draft of Husky – i believe in a single sitting. The film didn’t have the narrative complexity that you’ll see in the final version, instead it followed each narrative strain one after the other. It was an incredibly different film. Then when i submitted it for the BFI Bursary award they wanted something a little more artistic. I had already written in the red balloon – a fairly common symbol – but added in a few motifs – the white feather – the boys lonely boys room etc. But in the end Husky just wasn’t right for the bursary which was focused more towards video art. I then spent a couple of months working on ‘The Dark and Light’ at the same time as Husky. This added to the delays in Husky’s production.
Then i went on holiday.
I decided to not think about husky at all on Holiday. Why? Because it was now August! I had started planning and preparing Husky after the third draft (end of April), after several months of complications and delays I thought taking some time away from it would get me fired up as soon as I got back to England.
Needless to say the first day back filming I felt a little dry. We were shooting the Police scenes and my crew of three couldn’t make it which left me alone with my two actors – and although we had a great time there was a lot to think about. I was having to direct, set up and record audio and camera as well as working on the set aesthetically +costumes etc. It was a bit of a shambles and I just remember Louise and Charles (the actors) looking at me, waiting for their orders and my mind just going blank. And after taking a five minute break to re-read the script I started writing almost five months ago, I dived straight back into the scene with a positive outlook and gave the actors more juice than I wrote. We toyed around as a group – what is the relationship between these two – originally in the script there were two male policemen, but after seeing Louise’s show reel and having already casted the last female role we knew she had to be in the film!
Then came the biggest day of shooting – the Hospital scene. We had assembled an incredible cast list – the return of Lily staff who helped organize several of the shooting days of the film, Ellis Winn continuing as Vinny as he himself had not played the character since about July – and Paul Davis who is an incredible actor with the credit list to show it! Paul came down at last minute notice, which was fantastic, and despite all my fears the hospital day actually came out the best and most swift days of shooting.
One other funny-ish story. Me and Nick, the AD on the film were staying at a different house the day before the first day of shooting. We woke up late and needed desperate means of transport as our amazing supporting-lead Cheryl Halliwell had already arrived at the shooting location. Lily, who hadn’t met Cheryl before and called me and saying that there were people outside ready to act ‘where are you?’. I got there as fast as we could and then sat there a little bit breathless. I wasn’t sure what to say – it was almost like a reverse meet and great as our cast and crew (of two) arrived there before we did. Then after stumbling over my own words and repeating the fact that we would be shooting the penultimate scene of the film first today about ten times a realized we had better start shooting – some nice car interiors to get us going: The car we used for the Taxi was actually my car and is only three door – so we made sure never to properly see the outside of the car. THEN we couldn’t get the estate agent sign to stay upright so we had to fasten it into a Christmas tree holder with spare pieces of wood! (thanks Neil). The estate agent sign is actually from my dad’s company and was never intentional product placement, just incidental that I had written the selling of his house – the actual estate agent scene doesn’t actually incorporate a real Allen Estates employee; he was an actor, Andy Waller :D. In the estate agent scene we see him try, and fail, to put up the sales board. This was improvised on the day as I knew that we would have to come up with a reason why the board is in Christmas tree holder in all the other scenes. Another notable factor is that in the estate agent scene the agent never lets go of the sign – that’s because we didn’t have the pieces of wood used to jam it in to keep it up, so it kept on falling over…
Anyway – there were a few other interesting stories about the film – one joke I kept playing on Lily was that every week she didn’t do anything to help move the film along her name got smaller in the credits… – so if you want to hear more then you can purchase the dvd of the film which includes an audio commentary, all the behind the scenes videos as well as an exclusive interview.
I have literally just finished working on the film with now only a couple of rights and arrangements to sort out in preparation for the films online launch on November the 20th! Psyched!
So after six months Husky is a heavy baby I am ready to give birth to and share with the world. I hope you like it. I believe it is a real bench mark in my career as a filmmaker and can’t wait to see what everyone thinks.
What’s next? – Well I have a few music videos lined up, a funny viral video and another short film next year!
Husky is just the beginning.
TRAILER FOR HUSKY: