10 May Execcerly Thoughts: Bugsy Malone to BritSciFi
Those of you who follow me on Facebook will know that recently #Teen2 and I thoroughly enjoyed ourselves at the Lyric Theatre Hammersmith’s tremendous production of BUGSY MALONE; a show that according to Dominic Cavendish’s 5 star review in the Telegraph, so brilliantly ‘combined juvenile exuberance with a drilled professionalism’. We came out from the show’s climax singing the closing number ‘if you give a little love it’ll all come back to you’….. Both those thoughts resonated with me this weekend on STRANGENESS IN SPACE at BritSciFi, housed so welcomingly by Malika Andress & Mark Dando at the National Space Centre in Leicester.
Really? Bugsy Malone to BritSciFi? Yep…
I currently have the privilege of producing Saturday Morning TV legends Trev & Simon, and Sophie Aldred (Ace in Dr Who), in a new comedy podcast series. We’ve been merrily posting photos of studio recording on social media; snapshots of us having, we freely admit, a thoroughly good time working together and with our guest cast – how could you not when it’s Doon Mackichan, Carol Cleveland, Peter Guinness, Barnaby Edwards and Rufus Hound. This week I did an interview with The Mary Sue in USA and was asked how I managed to run the low budget/no budget THE MINISTER OF CHANCE through a full audio season with such a stellar cast (the likes of Jenny Agutter, Paul McGann, Sylvester McCoy, Lauren Crace and Julian Wadham). The core answer in both of those is the same, and actually very simple … a good script being realised by a cast and crew committed to excellence who are not only ‘allowed’ but positively encouraged to have a good time doing it. Youthful exuberance, a passion for what you are making, and a recollection of why you ever wanted to be in this challenging quicksilver business in the first place not only works very naturally alongside hard work and an utter determination to get it right, but it can lift the creative process to another level.
In our Leicester Hotel Bar on Friday night we were delighted to be joined by Dirk Mags; the man who forged the way in taking Audio production to ‘Sonic Movie’, a path we followed in The MINISTER OF CHANCE and one we endeavour to tread in STRANGENESS IN SPACE. An expert in his field, a guru figure to those following in his wake, but one that I am heartened to report can still take genuine delight in our tales of our own sound designer, Dave Palser, on ‘Mission Goose’ – an attempt to source the perfect, natural, non sound-library “honk”. Honing your craft really need not preclude an element of delight in its execution; and I suspect that fact is the backbone behind his work remaining at the top of his game.
Yesterday, at BritSciFi, the Space Centre was packed with exhibitors and participants who quite literally trek the country visiting cons; unpacking and repacking their Daleks and Cybermen suits, their motorised Weeping Angels and their array of costumes… Friday night Trev, Simon and I, along with the phenomena now known as Ensign Waters (Deb) were sprawled across the floor prepping our display for Saturday … our newly arrived stock of Strangeness in Space badges needed bagging into sets of four so we had set up a little production line across the carpet… up pops an ear-wigging stall holder from behind the screen, wondering who it was having such a good time doing such an ordinary task as stall-setting. And we were… Working on any production, but especially a low–budget production, the hours and challenges are exhausting. I honestly haven’t worked this hard for a long time but I also haven’t had such a good time working for the same long time!
There was a lull in the footfall this afternoon but instead of sitting at their table with the glum, bored faces Sophie and I have seen on so many ‘celebs’ at Cons in our time, Trev& Simon just went off in search of somat…. Next thing we find Simon filming Trev inside a Dalek, with the Dalek publicly declaring a now well-known refusal to ‘Do a Duvet’ … we then find him inside a Cyberman suit, swinging his pants as a crowd gathers to join the fun, egged on by the brilliant guys who run them. Sophie and I, back on the stall, conclude that sometimes all you need is a breath of Trev & Simon to swoop away the cobwebs….a reminder that whilst we may often be inadequately paid, we are blessed to be working in this field, and especially blessed that the public saw fit to support the Kickstarter campaign and get STRANGENESS IN SPACE into production so we could make it for you.
But even more fundamentally, it reminds us that you get back what you put in… If you give a little love it’ll all come back to you…