Life Is A Stage

Behind the Scenes

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Production Notes

Part of the credit (or blame) for Life Is A Stage goes to Elliot Grove of Raindance. While attending one of his seminars, the director was told to look for locations nearby that he could get access to and write for that.

As a result the location ended up being the famous Trinity Theatre in Sam’s hometown of Tunbridge Wells. While the theatre’s director was very welcoming and accommodating, offering the venue in its rare downtime, using such a location turned out to be a double-edged sword. The theatre’s popularity meant that entire days when it was not being used were rare, and even harder to get a no-budget cast and crew to all be available at the same time, since all had other jobs.

The nearest the shoot came was in September 2010, a few months after pre-production began. However, one of the cast turned out to have doubled-booked and made the understandably commercial decision of taking the job that was paying the hirer fee. It was not this one. Shortly after that, one of the cast moved away from the area to the opposite end of the country. As a result of having to recast an important role and with the inaugural Electric Lantern Festival creeping up, the director moth-balled the production over the spring.

As luck would have it, in the autumn of 2010, shortly after the shoot of Life Is A Stage had to be postponed, Sam saw a production of Alan Bennett’s The History Boys at Trinity Theatre, directed by the theatre’s artistic director John Martin. While many of the cast gave exceptional performances, two of the actors stood out to Sam. Through John Martin he approached both of them and Mark Hoskin agreed to play the role of The Host.

Mark’s intense nature resulted in the initially playful character of The Host taking on a more serious persona, which the director had not initially considered, and this worked well the Daniel Jarvis’s take on The Guest.

To give the film a supernatural sense, it was necessary to add some visual effects to the production, and to expand on the audience. How this was achieved can be seen in Fixing it in Post - the Visual Effects of Life Is A Stage.

Director's Statement

Life Is A Stage, like many of my projects evolved from a number of ideas crashing into each other. I’ve often likened this process to nuclear fusion - ideas whizzing around an fusing releases more creative energy that speeds up the process and, before you know it, you have a kind of creating nuclear melt-down. That’s how I imagine it at least!

On this occasion, I had been kicking around the idea of a man who seems to find himself in a real anxiety dream. Around the same time, I was speaking to Daniel Jarvis, with whom I had just worked on Anthony Jarman’s White Devil. He told me of an incidence of stage-fright he had had early in his career. This merged with other thoughts of a short about a near-death experience and the bright light people report seeing. From there it was only a short step to imagining that people who have "come back" and report seeing that light are in fact seeing a spotlight.

It is often asked the extent to which writers write themselves into their work and, while I generally feel my characters are not particularly like me, I did have to come clean on this one. When watching an early cut of it with Anthony Jarman, we got to the Guest’s final speech and he looked at me with a smirk. "That’s you!" he said. I had to admit much of it was.