Our regular feature on the people of Acton
Fiona Howe and Gareth Jones are the creative duo behind Acton-based Scenario Films. Their first feature, Desire, opens in cinemas on 04 March.
Desire was written, produced and shot in their home in Acton. The story of a screenwriter whose character threatens to take over not just his creative and sexual life, but his sanity, Desire opens at the Apollo Piccadilly from the 4th March, followed by other London cinemas and nationwide in March/April.
Where in Acton do you call home?
Home is Mill Hill Park. We moved into the area in 1994, so we've been around the neighbourhood for a while, and have seen some changes, mostly for the good I must say.
Favourite things about Acton?
Green spaces, no air traffic, friendly neighbours, being able to walk round the corner and buy fruit and veg from anywhere in the world.
Least favourite things?
Graffiti and litter!
Favourite place to eat out?
Have to confess we sound as agoraphobic as our main character in the film! Our favourite place to eat is HOME because everything happens here, work, family, marriage, social life.... it's a 24/7 kind of space that we only leave for meetings in central London and the school run! We love cooking, it's one way we switch off. If we ever do escape it would be to one of the local Indian or Lebanese restaurants.
Tell us about Desire?
DESIRE began and has remained a very personal film. The story isn't modelled on our own direct experience, it is definitely fiction - although we are always being asked the extent to which it's autobiographical - but as a married couple, we did want to explore the complexities of a marital relationship under the pressure of being creative. It can make people behave in very strange ways. We also wanted the drama to play out in what normally would be seen as a safe space: the home environment. I think that's what makes it rather an unsettling film, and such an intense viewing experience.
Gareth and I took the decision to make the film in the middle of a summer thunderstorm while we were having some trouble putting together another project. I think a lot of our emotions about that got channelled into the film, but as a creative collaboration, it was a fantastic experience. Having taken the decision that we would make a film on our own terms, come what may, a lot fell into place pretty quickly. We devised the story together, worked over the script together for a couple of months, put the budget together, then it was all systems go to cast, rehearse, crew-up and shoot the piece in what was a pretty tight timescale. We went from concept to completion in about 9 months, appropriately enough, and you just have to support each other, there is no room for doubt!
Shooting the film in your home seems to blur the lines between character and filmmaker?
The decision to shoot DESIRE in our home - the single location of the film - was mainly a practical one: we knew we would have total control over the environment, and it would make the shoot much quicker and easier. And the home also functions as a kind of character in the film. It made it relatively easy to design a space for the characters to live in, and to let the actors take it over for the time they needed. It was a little odd living with all these febrile alter-egos in the same space. And I suppose the house has its ghosts as a result. I expect we'll keep finding little pieces of lighting gel and lamp clips in cupboards and behind pictures for years to come. But it was surprisingly straightforward to reclaim the space when it was all over.
Even your children appeared in it. That must have been fairly intense?
It was a very positive experience for us as a family too, really hard work - the children were actors in the film, and they had to get used to a film crew and actors co-habiting with them - exciting and very funny at times. It must have been a bit strange coming home from school into this madhouse I suppose - we scheduled very carefully to make sure they didn't miss any lessons. I think it was very good for the children to see us working together as adults. It's important to realize that your mum and dad have identities as people and professionals. A lot of kids never get to see their parents in the workspace.
The kids are excited about the film going on release - it's made them think about it all again, and our daughter is pretty keen to make another film. We're currently planning a shoot for the late summer in Wales - if we can get it all together in time.
DESIRE opens on 4th March in Central London. Fiona and Gareth will be on hand to answer questions at the screening at Watermans Arts Centre, Brentford 8th March.
4/5/6/7/8/9/10 March. Book tickets here.
Watermans Arts Centre, Brentford
7/8/9 March. Book tickets here.
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February 18, 2011