Five years ago I lay in a hospital bed for two days with latex all over my face. There was a “Red” camera a few inches from my nose looking down on my features, catching my twitches, and there were loads of lights and reflectors pointing at me. The sound guy stuck a microphone to my thumb at one point. “You can keep it still. I’ve been watching you.” Mostly I lay there. Occasionally I growled something. I was in a neck brace for the whole two days while working. I noticed it affected my voice with sustained use, and thought that for consistency it would be better not to take it off in the breaks. We had one take per shot, two in a pinch. In the bed next to me was a lovely old guy who had no idea what he was saying or when, and occasionally actually fell asleep during shots. Someone was detailed to wake him for takes. It had to be efficient but it never felt rushed. We had a lovely two days. I made some friends who I still see now. Time pressure can bring people together. And all I had to do was lie in a bed and growl.
We were making a short film called The View From The Window. It was written and directed by a remarkable woman – A D Cooper. Alice Cooper, but she’s asked me to introduce her as “A D” because she’s justifiably bored of comments about “Welcome to my Nightmare.” I respect that. I get so many bank jokes. So. Many. Bank. Jokes.
We’ve become good friends. She is from a naval family as I am, so the photos of her dad strongly remind me of photos of my grandad. And the poor woman has a large photo of my face on the door of her home office. It’s a miracle she still speaks to me having to walk past that every day. But she does.
Today she gave me some of her homemade honey to help my rib heal (she keeps bees). She also gave me solid advice about broken bone recovery. She’s probably had a fair few, witnessed a fair few, caused a fair few. She played Rugby for Richmond, and was press officer and organiser of the first women’s Rugby World Cup in 1991. Nowadays when women’s sport is being more widely recognised across the board, she’s a trailblazer. Now she’s making and writing films. She’s a brilliant human and goes out into the world to change it. I rarely take my hat off, but I certainly take it off to her. She also bought me sausage and mash by the river for lunch. Like me she lives by the river. As my naval grandfather insisted “The sea is in your blood. You’ll always need to live by water.” I see that in her.
She’s recently been experimenting with poetic shorts. She did a beautiful one about the River Thames (sea/blood etc), and then won two days use of an Alexa (essentially a very good camera.) She used that time to shoot a gorgeous tribute to the doomed WW1 poet Edward Thomas on it. She employed my friend and fellow Factory member Alex Bartram. I saw it today and it’s beautiful and whimsical, as her work always is. It’s screening again on Thursday night in town at BAFTA.
Here’s the blurb. It’s just a comfort to know someone who is making things because she wants to, and making them as well as she can under constraints.