Monday, September 25, 2006

Operation South Downs - Part Three.

February 23rd 2001:

The latest from the “casting couch” has a certain young Mr. Depp “pencilled in” to play the archetypical American tourist, accidentally caught up in events far from home. (no “damp handshake” here I may add!).
I shall have to remain unofficial in my statements regarding his involvement until signatures have been exchanged.

His part wasn’t “officially” written within the first five drafts of the screenplay but it was expressed by the financiers that American interest in the project would be enhanced by the inclusion of a major American born, box office draw. Unfortunately, Depp was the only one they could muster.
No matter, I shan’t take these liberties with my script to heart. It is the industry norm when one is dealing with big money. And big money is what we need to recreate the floods of last year.

February 24th 2001:

So far we’ve managed to persuade a large number of the Lewes populous to allow their homes to be flooded again this summer for the sake of art. They were quite happy to accept large sums of money in exchange for the inconvenience; monies which will go towards the eventual renovation of their properties, most of which still remain in dire need of repair. I’m just so very glad we can be of help.
Of course if the precipitation proves to be as plentiful as last year then we may not need to recompense. We just turn up and start filming. Well here’s hoping!

February 25th 2001:

Young Depp came over from France to chat through the project. (he tried to write himself a bigger part of course!)
He has this annoying habit of speaking “frog” which has me all of a fluster given my grasping of only the tiniest smattering of “Franglais.” Didn’t get our relationship off on the steadiest of footings I don’t mind saying.
Anyway, thought I’d knock him down a peg or two.
You see, he fancies himself as a bit of a tennis player. (that much I picked up from his “frog” talk.) So I challenged him to a game right there on the spot!

So off we went. I said …”three sets?” He said ..”five.”… “No, you don’t understand.” I said with a wry smile. “It’ll only take three!” That wiped the smile off his face I can tell you.
Anyway, we had quite an audience. Lots of pretty young things had come to watch me thrash him soundly.
And they were definitely on my side too, the way they tried to put him off by staring at him so intently and sitting there with legs held apart, akimbo fashion.

So anyway, there we were, three sets later and I’d somewhat softened towards him. Decided to do the very British thing and let him win. I didn’t realise at the time that I’d decided on that particular course of action but it came to me later that, subconsciously, I’d obviously made that decision without my being aware of it. It’s a wonderful thing the human brain isn’t it?

So there I am, serving, two sets down, one five down in the third set, and at fifteen thirty. Cracking serve it was too, hit the frame of his racket at lightening speed and due to the ferocity of the serve, had enough momentum to come back over the net for a fluke point to him.
He shouts out “love deuce” and with that, all the pretty young things, clamp their legs together in unison. He couldn’t quite get the hang of the scoring system you see. Anyway, he won the next point to win the match.

I was full of admiration for the hordes of young British girls who flocked around him afterwards. I could see they were upset at my losing, yet they did the very British thing in congratulating him warmly – one more warmly than the others if rumours are to be believed.

March 2nd 2001:

Many kind wishes and congratulations have been received and have been warmly welcomed under the difficult circumstances that have constituted the past few weeks. I shan’t elucidate here as to specifics due to the legal ramifications surrounding the various rumours that have abounded and that will eventually be proved to be completely untrue.
Should you be aware of said rumours then you will surely realise their untrue nature. And should you NOT be aware of same, then I shall not waste my time and yours, repeating them here.
But please be assured that everything is running completely on schedule. I run a very tight ship!

March 3rd 2001:

One piece of good news regarding that Depp chap. Due, no doubt, to the cunning shown by my own disregard for glory in having let him beat me at tennis; I can now officially declare that his signature was forthcoming this very morning and he is now completely and officially a member of the “dream team.”

And so it is that finds me spending tonight holed up in a quite adequate suite at the Dorchester in London, having foregone my usual lodgings at my favourite club, in order to entertain our young Mr.Depp.

Having attired myself in apparel suitable for the occasion - smoking jacket and velvet smoking cap, complete with tassel - I was most pleasantly interrupted by a ringing telephone informing me that Depp was equally attired and awaiting my presence in the bar downstairs.
Being initially of a miffed demeanour at his inclusion in ‘my’ production at the insistence of the film’s financiers, I was beginning to have a change of heart, especially so in the knowledge that he was suitably presentable for an evenings jolly in the pleasant surroundings of the Dorchester.
In the circumstances I thought it appropriate to select a number of my finest cigars from the humidor and decant to the bar forthwith.

Yes, it is possible that he’s a quite decent sort of chap after all. He’d obviously gone to the trouble of hiring himself a suitable smoking jacket and cap for the evening, purely out of a mark of respect to my good self. This had the promise of being a very pleasant evening indeed.

Many admiring glances were focused in my direction as I entered the bar in all my finery and made my way over to the lone figure of young Depp perched on a bar stool.
I have to say, my initial reaction was one of disappointment at his choice of apparel; no doubt the American version of a very British tradition, his jacket more resembled a dark gothic version of a duvet quilt than the British tradition to which I was accustomed.
No matter, I tried to look impressed and commented favourably on his choice of evening attire, enquiring as to its providence.
He informed me that he had in fact purchased the same in New York. (they call it a “puffer” jacket over there).
So anyway, we took our positions at a secluded table to avoid prying eyes, and I offered him one of my cigars to “puff” on, while I “smoked” on mine.

The reason I’m telling you all this directly relates to the film, so please bear with me.

You see, young Depp is unfortunate in not being a very strong swimmer, which was proving to be problematic in respect of a vital scene in the film, whereby it is necessary for him to be swept forcibly down the Ouse. Witness the scene in the film “Chocolat” where young Depp was required to swim across the river to the burning boat. It is very clear that his head has been computer spliced onto a stunt double which, for me, completely ruins the film, not that it was a very good film anyway.
Of course a stunt double could be utilised for those critical scenes in Operation South Downs, but this was something I wasn’t prepared to consider given the need for a few crucial close ups.
This was something I wished to discuss with him within the relaxed and pleasant surroundings of the Dorchester. (only after a few gins you understand, by way of making him feel more relaxed. I could see that he was initially somewhat tense in my esteemed company.)

Anyway, after our fifth G&T I took it upon myself to raise the subject of this crucial scene.
Three G&T’s later and he was still adamant that a double would suffice (stunt double, that is, not a G&T double,)
That’s when it hit me; another one of my flashes of genius at the most opportune of moments. Let me explain:-

Young Depp was slightly squiffy by the end of the evening when I suggested he loan me his “puffer” for a couple of days. He naturally complied at my continued insistence, with wild animal gesticulations, before falling off his chair. He was carried up to his room, minus “puffer.”

March 4th 2001:

The morning after the night before, I take young Depp’s jacket to our costume department with very precise instructions as to its modification.

March 5th 2001:

Gloria from the costume department, myself and Depp are standing by the side of a quiet stretch of the Thames, when I remove his “puffer” from the boot of my car.
He is naturally pleased at its return and doesn’t notice the modifications to its construction.
Anyway, he puts the jacket on and smiles contentedly. I suggest he pulls up the zipper to its full extent, to which he of course complies.
He is in the process of igniting a cheroot when I manfully toss him into the Thames.

to be continued...........

No comments: