Harry Sherriff - Death of an Actor
Writer and Director Harry Sherriff is premiering a film a month on Coney's Loft throughout 2016.
Here is Death of an Actor.
Harry said: "Death of an Actor came to me as I was reading Elia Kazan's book on directing. As the great director talks about how hard he worked on a play and its inevitable failure. He believed it was solely down to the fact an actor couldn't convincingly die on stage. I imagined Mr Kazan dealing with this in the rehearsal room and found it hilarious. It reminded me of that great scene in Ricky Gervais' Extras were Keith Chegwin can't act or take direction.
I asked Salford actor Jimmy Boyland to be in the film after he contacted me saying he enjoyed Ted, Fred & Deb. His showreel was strong and I knew he would do a great job. I've been very lucky this year in that people have responded to the shorts and actors especially have been kind enough to introduce themselves. I don't have all the ideas for the remaining seven short films but I have quite a few actors I know I want to work with. Let's hope ideas and talented actors marry up.
Finding the location for Death of an Actor was a bit of a nightmare. To hire a space like the one in the film should cost a fortune and in the end we used a great room in Z-arts, Hulme. It should have cost £125 but we managed to get the room for 3 hours for £25 because we booked on the day. A risk that paid off. Besides food we hadn't spent any money on the previous 4 short films and I was a bit disappointed that we had to. I revel in being a cheapskate filmmaker that gets production value out of a couple of quid.
I was fortunate enough to work with cinematographer Mike Staniforth on this short. He got the tone & style straight away. For his resources and the two hours we shot he did a brilliant job. Roy Andersson with his striking, all encompassing master shots were once again a reference point. I hope Roy's legal team aren't watching these shorts.
(Tip for cinematographers interviewing for jobs with writer-directors: Say something smart, specific & complimentary about the script. This seems painfully obvious but it's amazing how many people either don't read the script or don't fully understand it to then wax lyrical about it. This tip applies to actors as well, actually, what am I talking about? It applies to everyone.)
Ryan McMurray from Brackn Audio once again did a fine job on the sound. Replacing dialogue and generally making up for my poor decision on location (Z-arts was next to a busy road. Sorry Ryan!)
Working with Ryan and Mike is a joy because they're filmmakers and I mean that with no disrespect to their specialisations. They're thinking of every component and I'm more than glad when they share their opinion, something that could be frowned upon during their industry day jobs.
I'm happy with Death of an Actor. Whilst making it I truly believed it was the worst film out of the five but I need to stop thinking of them in rank order. This isn't a healthy or productive way of thinking. Plus more than a few people have said its the best yet, which is amazing to hear. After all it would be depressing if they got worse.
We shoot June's film on the 26th and I'm still trying to force an idea. I'd like to write for a female lead. That hasn't happened yet this year and is overdue. I'd also like to experiment with VoiceOver and more than one location. I hope to be visited by the muse by the start of next week."