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‘Gooseberry Fool’ - The Director's Vision

For me too many British films are ticking the same old boxes. The years have given us endless gangster films, zombie films and Richard Curtis-esque rom-coms. The current trend being for ‘gritty dramas’ depicting the violent, depressing lives of East London/Northern estates. With so many out there, is it really that surprising so few manage to stand out successfully? Originality is too frequently and foolishly dismissed, simply for being an unknown quantity.

I see Gooseberry Fool as something more original, while remaining strongly commercial. I want to make a film that, although small in scale and budget, can engage an audience through relatable characters, believable conflict, its use of music and a cheeky sense of humour. I want to make a film that says ‘actually, despite the ups and downs, things can be alright in the end’. Because some films should be life affirming – there’s no shame in having hope.

The key theme of the film is that we should embrace our roots – both personally and socially – because the past plays a role in the future. As the film is to be part road-movie, part real world musical, one of the key ways we will embrace this theme is through the soundtrack. It will feature a broad range of traditional folk songs in addition to more contemporary, original folk pieces; all recorded live by local south coast musicians. The score for the film will also need to follow this aesthetic. The soundtrack should be vibrant and infectiously enjoyable, with the potential to lead a marketing drive in a similar fashion to such films as Once, Garden State, O Brother Where Art Thou and Inside Llewyn Davis.

As the likes of Ben Wheatley and Shane Meadows have proven, digital film kit and a tiny budget need not stifle creativity or negatively affect the technical quality of a finished film. We will be shooting in HD on a DSLR camera with a skeleton cast and crew, sourcing as many of them locally in and around Hampshire as possible. As much as can be will be shot guerrilla style on location, with minimal use of simple sets where necessary.

Stylistically, given our guerrilla approach, it will feel very naturalistic, making significant use of available lighting, though not exclusively doing so. The camera work will be relatively low key, avoiding too many flashy gimmicks, with cinematic flourishes like crane ups and tracking shots used economically at the most pertinent points to keep the pace of the shoot brisk and unfussy, without undermining the dramatic/cinematic potential. I want to let the scenes play out, with the focus on performance, rather than being all about cluttered visual tricks and ticks.

I aim to deliver a film that is light on its feet, breezy and good natured in its disposition and one that embraces its regional qualities – all while being as cinematic in its storytelling as we can afford.

Nick Maltby -- Writer and Director of Gooseberry Fool


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