And Then There Were Two
The end of the world is nigh, and what is the recommended course of action?
Get your kit off, of course!
Well. Let me put this in context. A while back, pre-pandemic, when Covid was but a glint in a fruit bat’s eye, a very talented screenwriter (Alison Clapham) came to me with a proposal. “Get your kit off,” she said. No, I’m being silly.
She had signed up to an extraordinary film project: IMPACT 50 – which had the ambition to make one smack-em-between-the-eyes-pulsating-glorious-groundbreaking-breathtaking piece of cinematic history through fifty different films interpreting the same moment.
The peg? Only the unfortunate announcement by the President of the United States (played by
Olivia Williams) that the world has just 93 minutes before it’s gonna get smacked in the gonads by an asteroid. Yeah, a bit like Don’t Look Up – but without Meryl or Leo.
So, what would people do in their last moments on this celestial crust? Shag? Eat? Hide? Drink? Track down Jeremy Kyle? Well, lots of film-makers came up with lots of concepts, some tragic (okay, everyone’s was ultimately tragic), some breast-beating, some reflective, many artistically nuanced.
The script - And Then There Were Two - that Alison wanted had a me to direct featured worn-down octogenarians Rose and Stan, who we discover on a holidaymaker-abandoned-beach as they reflect back over their lives together (before ‘you know what’ hits). Then they get naked and dance up and down the beach in a joyous piece of malarkey.
And so, just as the sun rose one glorious May morning, we convened on West Wittering beach to shoot this charming short that would form part of the IMPACT 50 BIG FILM. Having promised the National Trust that of course we would not upset the locals by exposing them to bouts of pubic, I mean public, indecency, we were set to roll as early as possible before the arrival of doggy walkers, swimmers, and school parties.
However, the problem with filming, is that it always overruns. Even before it starts. Dressing and propping a deserted beach took an inordinate amount of time, not least because the inflatables kept blowing away and three seagulls flew off with our chocolate bites prop-food, which made me cross. I had scheduled to shoot the nude scenes first, but even as our wonderfully game and talented actors Heather Skermer (playing Rose) and Seb Craig (playing Stan) waited in our gazebo-adapted green room, the first doggy walkers were arriving with Tilly and Archie and Marley. Most owners and their hounds kept a quizzical distance, but it didn’t stop the odd Marley running off with a strategically placed beach ball or even using one of our sun loungers as a urinal.
Eventually, we were set, and the very patient and wonderful Heather and Seb set about their strip scene, which they did in equal measures of mischief and love before beginning their naked scamper. Now. This was no blue-movie (although I was concerned our actors were turning blue in the chilly English Channel winds, despite wrapping them in cosy dry-robes between re-takes). No, this was to be an amusing and tasteful cinematic experience and so all the nude shots were rear shots – yes, that’s rear as in bottom, as well as from behind.
However, I was faced with a little problem in that everything about the delightful Seb was long and thin and so even the shots of him running away from camera, it was very apparent what was flapping around at the front, no matter how brilliantly my DOP Nick Horrell adjusted his camera angles. Now, I haven’t done many nude pics – correction: I haven’t done any nude pics, so how was I to approach this gentleman in his mid-eighties about this issue?
“Seb, that was absolutely fantastic,” I say, after one particularly energetic display by him sprinting between strewn buckets, spades and frisbees, “but I wonder if you could run so that … we don’t … er, you’re not …”
“So my willy isn’t flapping about?” he suggested.
“Ah. Yes. That. Please. Thank you.”
“I’ve got a better idea,” he said. “Got any camera tape?”
And so, because now it was around elevenses, to quite a crowd of beach comers, who were now very interested in what we were doing, dear Seb took that tape and strapped himself up so nothing was flopping anywhere. Fortunately, he turned his back to an outing of twitching nuns who were looking for action in the dunes.
It was a lovely shoot, with truly lovely people, I am only very sorry to have to add that the very unique and very funny Seb Craig is no longer with us, but I just know that he is continuing to entertain quite a litany of doggy walkers and nuns somewhere – with and without his clothes. RIP Seb. Xxxx.
For Rose and Stan’s little adventure, click this: And Then There Were Two
(It’s only 03’43").
And, after eight years in the making, with thousands of contributors, all of which was pulled together by LondonSWF’s inimitable Chris Jones, the FREE online premiere of IMPACT 50 which features And Then There Were Two is on Saturday June 25th at 8 pm (for 24 hours).
Here's the link for that!
And Then There Were Two
Seb Craig 1937-2020
Writer – Alison Clapham, Rose – Heather Skermer, Stan – Seb Craig, Stills Photographer - Niki Cath,
Composer – Adrian Williams, Sound Mixers – Elliot Howarth, George Elliot,
Director of Photography – Nick Horrell, Editor – Jon Dean,
Producers – Alison Clapham & Louise Clover, Director – Louise Clover