The Dead Drop

While "Green Star Liner" seems to be motoring up under it's own power (awful, awful pun), we're actually going to do another short film, this year. It's called The Dead Drop and it appeared out of nowhere.

I added a scene to the Claddagh Films Actor/Director workshops, last year. The scene involved a dialogue between an agent "handler" and one of his reluctant charges. While we tend to think of spies as James Bond types, with rugged features and over-the-top heroic courage, apparently most are either disgruntled employees in positions of influence, or idealists who want to change things, one step at a time. The simple scene to be workshopped, was a cafe meeting between Pope, the handler, and Michael, his agent. Pope's network has been compromised, and he is in the process of 'lifting' his various agents and getting them out of the country. His problem is that he doesn't know which one of his agents actually "turned."

I tried the scene a few times, and it never took off. I guess many actors don't have an affinity for the world of John le Carre. I removed it from the repertoire of scenes, never to be repeated. However, some other vignettes which I had also discarded, seemed to work with different actors when retried, so one evening with actors Michael Bates and Gerry Wade, I dug the scene out again, and asked them to have a go. The results were mesmerising. The antipathy between the characters was palpable, as was the oppression of the make-believe world.

During another workshop, I decided to try out some variations on the scene, some "back story" if you will. I had discussed shooting the particular cafe scene with Gerry and Michael, on the basis that it might be a nice stocking-filler for their showreels, and it would be worth capturing on film/tape, regardless. As we tackled some of the back story, it became clear to me that there was an interesting short film in what was originally just a single scene.

I strung together some of the memorable performances from the workshops, added a stronger plot and some other visual scenes, and submitted it to the Film Board as part of the "Signatures" scheme. The IFB didn't care for the story, and I found myself (yet again) at odds with their paid readers. If one of their readers takes a dislike to your tale, then from a Film Board perspective, your project is dead in the water. This is a particularly cruel turn of fate. I find that only a narrow subset of film genres are of interest to me, so I can't understand how a reader can maintain a wide and diverse appreciation, and not let their own interests guide their reports. However, it is always worth listening to the opinions of others, even those who disagree with the script (ask Terry McMahon!) and somehow find a sort of "truth" from the criticisms.

So, in spite of the "Pass" from the Film Board, the revised script is now making its way towards preproduction with an April/May shoot date lined up. We're also looking to see if FundIt can help with the fundraising.

More on this, later on.