A turn-of-the-century cross-dressing romantic farce about a womanising aristocrat forced to disguise himself as a woman in order to save the family's inheritance at the expense of losing the love of his life. It's a sexy, hip, period comedy.
The films look will be rich in colour, a deep saturated palette that stays within the realm of reality, but stands out using high contrast, as well as crushing down the blacks. Very much in the same vein as “Shakespeare in Love” which although Elizabethan as opposed to Victorian, is an example of capturing warmth and sexiness in an uptight society using the young and vibrant vitality and youthful exuberance of our characters.
An extended character that accompanies the look, is the camera. It will slide and travel smoothly through the hallways, parlours and manor grounds. It will allow fleeting glances at the forbidden, then quietly flow on to the next encounter. Using steadicam, sweeping jib arms and cranes, it will feel very personal to the viewer; as if we are touching these characters with the tips of our fingers and then moving on. This flow will also carry through the dialogue, which will be delivered with both speed and ease. The witty repartee will trip from the characters young tongues at breakneck speed, hurling the audience along, only pausing when earned to deliver an intimate moment of true romance.
The design of this rich look, with full tones and dark contrast, will up the stakes along with the sexual tension, a unique look, both modern and period will be echoed in the music and costumes, always in period but with a hint of the modern world, cheekily peeking through.
Shooting on film rather than digital. Film is much more forgiving, and the audience have to believe that Randolph makes a believable woman. Film has softer edges and is therefore more malleable, which will make Randolph as feminine as possible. Also the large vistas and lavish colours all lend themselves to the unequivocal beauty of film.
A romantic comedy with a sharp wit set in a chaotic bohemian cookery school in the
People have always fascinated me. How we behave to get the things we want, whatever the genre, character desires, in my opinion, drive the story I worked with Nick Walker, the original screenwriter, and also the masters of structure, Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais. Tortilla is multifaceted but never over complicated, its fun and moving and witty, with a real edge to it. We worked on both keeping that edge, and the story very tight and realistic, BUT never loosing the fun! As a performer I know what it is to walk onto a cold set, I feel my job as director is to create a fun and relaxed environment, there’s nothing better than working with talented actors to really find all aspects of a scene. As the cast for this film comes together I could not be more excited; Joanna Lumley, Rosamund Pike, Alan Cumming, Mathew Modine, Mark Addy and Tamsin Greig, they all bring so much comedic history but also a really eclectic feel to an already highly
original story. Coverage is king for Rom/Coms, it gives you the versatility to keep things moving along at a clip, but also earning your pauses for the weightier emotional moments. The dialogue in Tortilla is particularly strong and funny. The banter between Zaffina and Matt will be sharp and witty, zinging along, these are two people who are used to going back and forth, but somehow there is an edge and they are missing their connection. Zaff is living in the future, hell bent on her by- election and Matt is living in the past, trying to capture what they had before. Their daughter Penny, in the present, scared as she watches her parents wrestle with their different problems. The camera will often view them from her perspective. Penny is the glue holding this marriage together and her relationship with Rose is paramount to this story having heart.
ZAFFINA How do I have time to cook? I’m on five committees. I opened a badminton club.
One word from me, and the recycling day changes!
MATT It’s like being in the car with Abraham Lincoln.
ZAFFINA Yes well perhaps if Lincoln had opened a few more Badminton clubs he wouldn’t’ve got shot.
MATT He’d have shot himself!
I love the contrast between, Stevenage South, all grey and urban, covered in advertising billboards, cars and the hustle and bustle of city people and Rose Doyle’s Cookery School, in the heart of Northern Tenerife, beautiful, serene, verdant and wonderfully calm. I will accentuate this, shooting the grey city with static setups, the camera on sticks, and the city flowing past us, other than the mad dash to the polling station, which will be handheld and visceral. In contrast at the cookery school, long flowing jib arms, crane and dolly shots for the vistas and fluidity of Garachico, the small coastal town that is very much a character in the film with it’s unique black volcanic sand beaches, lush dragon trees, and surrounding crystal seas The cookery school itself will feature heavily. We will build an interior with movable walls, so that I can get in close and move the angles when shooting all the characters attending the school. Some of this will be hand held and some sticks, and also steadicam. I will come in on all the different exotic dishes being served, featuring the vibrant colours of the fresh seafood and vegetable produce. The students at the course are a reflection of our couple, they are all in some way, missing the connection with each other, then as the story develops we see and feel them beginning to form a family, working together until, in unison they create the beautiful wake supper after Roses funeral. Steadicam here to create the flow and synchronicity of their work in the kitchen. Sweeping turns as they pass each other in a culinary dance. The action scene on the moped, will feature handheld shots, POV’s and multiple cutaways of sheets and chickens flying in different directions, turning corners, the girls laughing, wind in hair, people watching reacting, different angles from rooftops and vantage points, all building towards Matt giving the Vespa back and being punched in the nose!!
The Death of Christine James is a love story. So the whole opening of the film is setting up their relationship, how they are as a couple. As with all love stories we, the audience, have to be fully invested in wanting our couple to get back together after whatever it is that has separated them. Christine and Peter are completely involved and in love with each other. The love is very simple and unquestioned, in some ways they have “their” world and then there is “the” world outside them. Long lens shots in close up, where they are in focus but the world around them is out of focus will add to that feeling of “their world” and create intimacy. In the cinema scene for instance, Steady cam, jib arm and dolly shots will create calm and smoothness, ease of movement. It is at night and the colours of the lights will be saturated and warm, and the blacks will be crushed, nothing threatening, their communication soft and gentle and full of love. They dip in to the normal world and then back to the safety of their own. This will be a huge contrast to the moment Christine and Peter’s lives completely change, when both literally and figuratively, humanity smacks them in the face. When Christine gets punched repeatedly and her bag ripped from her grasp, it will be the first time we use hand held shots, very visceral and present, very brutal, and a shock to the calm of the story so far. At that moment the two worlds collide, the pace changes as we see Peter running after Oppo, we follow, using hand held camera work and fixed camera from up high to show the myriad of different urban aspects, as they run through Coventry city, and end up in the multi storey car park, and then cutting back to the stillness of Christine from above, in a prone state, her dress riding up exposing her underwear, crying out for Peter, laying alone. The bubble is burst.
From that moment the subtle difference in shooting style is evidenced by using wider lens for close up. Shooting at an oblique angle when the couple are talking rather than straight on. The couple are now very much in the world and have lost their closeness, there is a yawning divide between them, that neither know how to cross. We will be much more aware of the “noise” of the world, in the mix the ambient sound will be more present, so even when our couple are alone, the outside world is still very much there too. We are now following two very separate people, and seeing how they are both coping in the world without each other. The lights at night now are not so warm and the colours not so saturated. With Peter we stay with hand held, he has the spectre of his encounter with Oppo haunting him, which stays with him almost as though he is being watched, that there is someone there all the time. In some ways now we are watching the film through Peters perspective, as Christine works to discover who she is outside of their marriage. Her perspective is more focused and quiet, and internal. This is a huge element to the story, it is a love story, but it is also a voyage into one violent act, how it reveals itself, and the effects it has on our two lovers and their friends and family. All the way through the story Coventry is very much a character in the story, we have seen many urban areas with the building site and the Multistorey car park, the working mens club, cinema, cafe and hospital and now we see the character change as Christine changes and discovers running, and we see, perhaps, the open fields of Coobe Abbey country park, or Allesley park, the Coventry Canal, and other open spaces and running routes which are totally new to Christine and totally alien to Peter. We introduce new people to our story, people who are very different from the family and friends from the club, showing the contrast in the character of the city and and also in our characters. While shooting Christine running, we will also have very close shots of her, showing her personal challenge and determination, in contrast to Peter who is lost and unable to determine anything. This theme of reaching out and falling short comes to a head when the police arrive and tell Christine that Peter is dead. This is the second time that Christine has been smacked in the face by humanity. We will be back in hand held, as the police inform Christine that she has to come identify the body. Again we mess with sound, the police are talking but we are not really hearing. We traveling in the car passing all the city sites, The club, the cinema, the cafe, the chip shop, retracing our way through Peter and Christines story till once again we arrive at the University hospital. The surprise when we find out, at the same time as Christine, that it is Oppo who has died and not Peter, is when Christine and we, the audience, are at the same place, and all we want is for our hero’s to be back together, and this happens when Christine is finally able to express her love to Peter and forgive. They are now very much in the world, two separate beings but united in love. We see this in the echo of the shower scene from the opening of the film. The camera will be in close up as they make love, but the lens will be wider incorporating the world in their intimacy. As an aside, the story is set in Coventry so have used that in my vision, but there are many other cities in the catchment area, Stoke on Trent being an interesting alternative, as it has the urban sites but also Caldon Canal, Central Forest Park, and Westport Lake, to name a few. On a larger scale you have Birmingham, but that might escalate costs. Also a large proportion of the film is told at night, having worked with the Arri Alexa on a number of occasions I think it would work beautifully for this film as it does remarkably well in very low light, and I would like to stay away from creating light sources and use as much of the outside ambient light as possible, therefore creating a very realistic world. There is also a mini Alexa which would be perfect for any drone shots of the city and perhaps high angle long range shots of Christine running.