Friday, March 14, 2008

Stepping Stones Pt 2: There’s a hat party going on right here

So Episode 2, which was originally Episode 1, in which a party is had, and that’s pretty much it. This episode does a great job of furthering the characters established in Episode 1, previously Episode 2.

The character of Kara as played by Vicky Lloyd, is arguably the main character of the ensemble, playing the naïve girl out of her depth at University. Vicky came to us in the more random of manners. Stepping Stones managed to get a small mention in the local paper, with regards to casting. Vicky’s mum, if I remember correctly, saw the article and sent it to her in Wales, and she came all the way down to audition and we loved her.

Dylan the roguish ladies man, played with zeal by Mark Gibbs came through the more traditional means of PCR. In episode 2, there is a scene where Dylan is in the shower with two Nurses played by Natalie Giles and Sexy Lexy. Laurence it soon emerged when faced with the possibility of filming two sexy nurses in the shower elected to shoot with them behind a curtain. I know I speak for a lot of people, when I say I cried.

Myself, Natalie Giles and Laurence Topham, did casting. Generally speaking Laurence would explain the production, Natalie would go through a scene with them and then I’d be left with the paper work at the end. Now part of my questions were, this is a production for Student TV, how do you feel about swearing, violence, sex and nudity. Now as far as I remember all the actors came back with a standard, it’s acting, I don’t have a problem with that, except for Felicity Rhys who played Catherine. She said very fairly that for nudity should would expect to be paid. Now it never came up with her character, but to this day it did leave me wondering, how much is a fair starting rate? Wouldn’t want to be rude after all.

Darius Merrimen as Bob, gets me every time in episode 2. Episode 1, showed how his housemates treated him. Episode 2 showed how all treated him. And just the ending where he’s clearing up during the party just kills me. Plus the final shot of the episode was a pick up. Darius came back and because it was a night shot, had to wait till after the wrap party to film, even though the Director and camera team had enjoyed the wrap party. Which just goes to show how the crew treated Bob as well.

Matt Clarke steals the show as Bruce, the creation of Matt Handrahan, based heavily on somebody he knew. Bruce was a character of much amusement for Roger Laughton, then head of the media school, who believed all Bruce did was fall out of cupboards. He does it twice. Which makes me think Mr Laughton only watched the first 5 minutes… So good is Matt, I forget how few scenes he has in the beginning.

Mostly the crew and friends make up the extras, of which episode 2 is flooded. I think all the crew, maybe not the editors who were locked in a room, and the writers who are too ugly, cameo in the film. Check out Laurence’s cameo in Episode 4, funny as. I mentioned the episode one-guest stars earlier, in this episode we have Aidan Goatley as ‘The Frenchman’, to this day he doesn’t understand how he got talked into that. We didn’t even know each other that well at the time.
Yvie Mcgee in episode 4, originally auditioned for Catherine, and we really liked her, she just wasn’t quite what we were looking for and looked too similar to Vicky Lloyd. In the end I had the cameo role extended for her. We cannot of course forget Terry Turbo and Doug Anderson’s cameos in Episode 3 and 5 respectively. Ill talk about them more with their respective episodes but it goes without saying that Laurence did his best to ruin it.

I still regret how I handled the script for this episode, what was submitted didn’t fit with what I was looking for as part of a Soap Opera or in line with the scripts. And neither the writers nor myself could come to an agreement on how to move forward, and I wish I’d have had a script editor to assist. In the end we hacked away the element that didn’t fit, George Wielgus came up with some ideas during the shoot and in the end Luke Thompson did a great job, taking what was and is essentially a series of scenes and editing them to the music. Watching the episode again, I’d forgotten how much I’d enjoyed it.

Finally, I was lucky enough to get an early copy of the series to Tony Garnett, who I am a huge fan of. I remember it clearly. I was working as a script reader, and Tony Garnett stormed into my office and demanded to know what he had just watched. And essentially tore me a new one for having a party episode for episode 1. He couldn’t tell what was going on or whom anybody was and it’s only due to the persistence of his PA, that he watched the rest. He later sent me a letter saying well done, comparing it as a student ‘This Life’.

To be cont…


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