BIRT DYNELY (2003)
Birt Dynely was commissioned by the UK Film Council, South West Screen and Cornwall Film as one of the first season of Digital Shorts. Even in 2003 it was still considered somewhat outrageous to edit a film entirely on a home computer and there was a lot of ignorance about this 'cutting edge' stuff - the first producer they brought into the project asked me after a lengthy budget meeting if we should budget for me, after editing digitally on a PC, to then take the camera tapes into an edit suite and do it all again "properly". "What, you mean you can do credits and everything?" he expostulated incredulously. Then he went and in came the excellent Beatrix Wood and all was peace and pleasure.
Birt Dynely was originally written for Kneehigh Theatre Company's Shop Of Stories project (later to develop into the writers' collective Scavel An Gow) in Falmouth. It is based on a truth - Castle Beach in Falmouth was indeed once more extensive and sandy than it is now, a favourite with local people, and it was severely abbreviated by a storm. (While I was researching the film I found in Jim's Cash and Carry in Redruth a hoard of colour postcards from the 50s or 60s showing the beach as it was, and it is a real loss.) The rest is municipal fantasy. All the characters are named after 18th & 19th century Falmouth Packet skippers - Roberta was actually Robert Shuttleworth Sutton.
I'm very fond of Birt Dynely, not least because the conniving Adoniah Schuyler is played by my friend the late Nick Darke. Even without speaking he was a hell of an actor as well as a premier playwright and a brilliant bloke.
I also like the almost liquid quality of the image from the Sony PD100 DVCAM video camera, which was effectively my reward for making Birt Dynely, but would subsequently get smashed up during the Cargoes project. Two cameras were used on the shoot, the PD100 and my Sony VX1000, operated by Mark Jenkin and George Greene respectively, but I had real trouble matching the footage and not much VX1000 material from the location shoot was used, so apologies to George.