One of the things which was putting me off using this film originally entitled ‘A bit about Frank’ as our FMP was how stale it had become. The project over time became something of the past which meant revisiting this film was always going to be difficult. Some of the actors were cooperative but one in particular wasn’t Ross James. He play’s ‘Frank’ in ‘A bit about Frank’ making him the main and pivotal character in the story. He was suppose to narrate the entire piece and do the final end scene, although when I approached him he was both rude and aggressive. He did eventually make plans to do the voice over in coventry but then the night before he pulled out. He left us in a very futile position. After I stressed how important completing this project is he began to ignore my messages.
So I had an idea to incorporate a new character called ‘Angie’ who is Billy’s mother and Franks divorced wife. She will now narrate the story from her distant and memory filled point of view, and conclude the film.
After proposing this idea to the team, here were the issues:
- They said it would be hard to convince the audience that she is the mother as she hasn’t been mentioned once throughout the film
- She needs to appear more than once and has to have a deeper story or connection
- How is she away of whats going on if she left when Billy was 5
- Why will the audience care about ‘Angie’s’ point of view?
So here is the new proposed treatment:
‘This story is all about love and hardship. It starts in the heart of East London during the summer of 2004. We first see best friends Billy 10, and Daniel 9 walking towards a corner shop after a kick about at their local park. Billy is the older and the more dominating, naughty, and mischievous out of the pair. While Daniel is shy, quiet, and intelligent, pretty much the complete opposite. After a long day in the park Billy schemes a way to get Daniel to steal from the local shop, which he does so successfully and the boys narrowly escape the grasp of the angry shopkeeper.
We then fast-forward almost a decade to present day where Daniel has just returned back from university for the summer holidays. Daniel is eager to meet up with his friend who he hasn’t seen in months although the same can’t be said for Billy. Billy has been going through it whilst Daniel has been away, although ‘Danny’ as they call him is completely unaware. He’s been stuck doing dodgy jobs to make ends meet with know hope of leaving his mundane area. If things couldn’t get worse he recently also found out through a letter from the NHS that his dad is ill and will pass if he doesn’t receive a new kidney. Frank, Billy’s dad lost both parents at a tender, and his wife Angie left him a few years after Billy was born.
Billy’s knows he’s played an integral part in the cause of his dads stress and illness so he decides to take matters into his own hands and steps up to do the transplant with the NHS, as he is the only direct family his Dad has. Although because Billy has his own heart complications the NHS did not approve of his application in the fear he would die of a heart attack. So his side fling/ girlfriend Denise introduces him to a Doctor who does underhand black market surgeries for extortionate prices.
We later find out the Doctor who’s name is actually Michael is currently with Angie Billy’s mum, and has been for 15 years. Now the doctor is aware that Angie has a son called Billy, but he does not piece together that the man who dies at his had during his last operation is actually his Girlfriend’s son. In fact Angie thought thinks he’s a regular GP and knows nothing about his illegal deeds. Unfortunately on that same day of Daniel’s arrival Billy passes away as the procedure takes a turn for the worse. Frank Billy’s father was completely unaware Billy knew he had an illness, and has now lost the last thing he had left. Even though Billy dies, all is not lost because Frank Billy’s kidney and has his operation done by the skin of his teeth. Denise Billy’s X girlfriend is also left the distraught as she feels partly responsible for her friends death as she got Billy is contact with the private doctor. Daniel’s summer holiday ends miserably as he loses his best friend. At the end of the film we find out that the narrator of the narrative is actually Angie who doesn’t appear until the very last scene. In the last scene the doctor Michael agrees to meet up with Angie, outside the graveyard where Billy has just been buried the day before. She plucks up the courage to tell him how her son Billy died; he then realises that he killed her son accidentally. His face drops in disappear. Michael never finds it in himself to tell Angie the truth. Angie never finds out but Michael has to live with himself forever.This is an epic tale of best friends who got torn apart by society, love, and decisions. The story harbours some deep underlying thoughts and enigmas like class, and society.’
Do you like the change? Look, I know it’s not ideal. I mean throwing in a completely new character after shooting more than half of the film is ridiculous and even more so when the new character is the lead role. But our options were very limited and time is not on our side. So I did what made most sense. I have also rewritten the narration to fit Angie. This took a long time as I had to get into the mindset of a character which I don’t really know. But I did know that ‘Character’s cannot act without goals to strive for, problems to overcome, and incidents to respond to’. (John Costello 2002: 29)Angie goal was to surprise her son for his 21st which is clear through her narration, her main problem is that her son has died so she goes through a stage of regret and self pity. During productions like our ‘Genre’s and narratives do not stand still. They are in constant flux and their boundaries widen as writers and film makers seek to add new dimension’. (John Costello 2002: 26) Admittedly this drastic change was not intentional, but it could now potentially work in my favour.
So the change has now occurred, ‘Frank’ is no longer the main and pivotal character. I have now decided to call the film ‘A bit about Angie’. We have an actress called Sara Galvin who will now play Angie. She will be coming in soon to record the narration, hopefully our luck changes for the better soon.
John Costello (2002). Writing a screenplay . London: Pocket essentials . p29.
John Costello (2002). Writing a screenplay . London: Pocket essentials . p26.