On their 50th wedding anniversary, Harold and Esmeralda revisit the cottage where they began their honeymoon. But their trip down memory lane unearths the cracks in their relationship which they’d forced themselves to forget. Can they overcome this resurfaced rancour or will the truth come out with drastic consequences?
Well, that sounds cheery, doesn’t it? That twisted little idea was dreamt up by me, script-editor turned writer-director Guido Lippe. And I can’t wait to turn it into my next short film. Hopefully, with your help!
UPDATE: We've cast our Robin! Scroll down for more information!
After my debut film, the comedy Fall-Out, I thought it was time for a change of pace and a change of genre. So in this new short film, The 50th Anniversary of Harold & Esmeralda, I will be doing just that: changing pace and genres. Oh, it may start off light and funny, with a bit of a comedy feel, but when you’ve warmed to the characters, you suddenly realise it’s all been a preamble for a psychological thriller. Kind of like Misery, only, y'know, not. For one thing it's not about writers, but about actual human beings. If you’ve seen Fall-Out, you’ll know I’m not averse to doing horrid things to characters in pursuit of a good and entertaining story. All’s fair in love and marriage...
Anniversary (yes, the complete title’s too long for even me to keep using in full) is a story of empowerment, of the older generation taking the forefront, and the timid taking charge of their destiny. The story also touches on issues like Alzheimer’s and its effects on the sufferers and their loved ones. Though maybe in a bit of an extreme scenario. It is film, after all. But ultimately, and perhaps unexpectedly for a psychological thriller, Anniversary is a story about love. It’s a story about how much love can hurt, but also about how much we need and want love. It’s about the sacrifices we make for love, as well as the love we sacrifice. It’s about the mistakes we make in love and in relationships, and the mistakes we make in loving ourselves. Anniversary is also a story of identity and how our memories and actions – the things we do for love – shape who we are as human beings. What do we sacrifice for those we love? How deep do we bury our regrets or the hurt of love betrayed? And what are the consequences of those long-hidden secrets resurfacing from the depths of memory?
Like I said: cheery.
So who am I,
For about 14 years now, I’ve worked as a script editor in the Netherlands and in recent years have worked on quite a few of the most successful Dutch films and television series. Among those are the first two Mees Kees films, both of which were the most successful kids’ films in the genre of their respective year of release (and part three is on the way). I’ve also had the occasional foray across the pond into the UK and I feel that’s where my destiny lies: working on properly British drama. My first steps in that direction were set working on Dutch adaptations of BBC classics like One Foot in the Grave and Yes Minister, but I want to work on the real thing. A major reason I started to make short films such as Fall-Out is so that I can actively make my mark on the UK drama scene. And I’m getting there. In the past year alone, I’ve script-edited the Halloween and Christmas specials of the UK app-based sitcom Going Nowhere and had a handful of job interviews at the BBC. Anniversary will be another, major step closer to that making that dream a reality.
After directing my first short film, Fall-Out, the director in me has fully awoken. Working with the gorgeous and talented Daniel Boys and David Paisley was an absolute dream and I’m keen to repeat that experience with an entirely new cast, even more gorgeous, and filled with some of my favourite actors. Fall-Out was pretty well-received and I’ve had a lot of encouraging feedback on my directing debut from several prominent directors. With their words in mind and having trained my socks off in the interim, I’m looking forward to making Anniversary an even bigger challenge and an even better film than Fall-Out.
I can't wait to begin filming Anniversary, especially as I now get to be more dynamic and visual in directing the film. I also get to call once more on the incredible talents of Mark Manley to provide artwork for the film. This time it won't be just for a magazine cover but much more integral to the film itself. His art will, in lieu of flashbacks, portray Esmeralda's memories of what she thought were happier times.
I absolutely love this story and these characters to whom I'm doing horrible things. But for that next step, actually bringing these characters and their story to life on the screen, I need your help. And by help I mean not just any money you can part with, I also need your internet shouty voices, to make as much noise about my film as you can, on twitter, facebook, blogs and anywhere else you think of, to get as many people involved in helping to make this film.
Why this film?
As a film, Anniversary tries to approach issues like Alzheimer’s and sexuality in a new light. The genesis of the story came from the simple notion: what effects would Alzheimer’s have on repressed memories? Alzheimer’s is an insidious disease that affects memory in a profound way, so what would happen if one of those episodes re-awakens hidden secrets? Would you be able to deal with those memories resurfacing? Through those questions I hope to explore how memory shape our identity and how such a disease can reshape it. I’m looking forward to experimenting with new ways to visualise this struggle.
As said, Anniversary also explores another identity issue: sexuality. It’s a tad difficult to discuss without giving away a few of the twists of the story, but in essence it boils down to: what do you sacrifice by accepting your sexuality and what do you sacrifice by denying it? For Robin, now confronted with the love Harold & Esmeralda display for each other, it’s becoming clear that his own romantic life is a mess. And while he laughs it off, it breeds a bit of resentment. Before that heads off into the thriller aspect of the story, Anniversary explores, mostly through subtext, the social isolation that single gays can feel. You should feel a bit of the struggles of finding the right partner, when gays are a minority and statistics alone can screw your chances of finding True Love.
Who is it about?
Anniversary, to me as writer/director, is mostly about the characters; who they are, how they came to be who and where they are, and the mistakes they feel they’ve made along the way.
Esmeralda seems so fragile at times, despite her energy. Never more so than when she has her first brush with Alzheimer’s and dementia on this nostalgic trip. But rather than forget, she remembers. She remembers the pain, the hurt. She may have forgotten, but deep down she has never forgiven her husband’s betrayal.
Harold is a good-natured man, who loves Esmeralda, his wife of fifty years, deeply. So deeply that he has pushed away his guilt over an affair he had more than forty years ago. And he has pushed away all feelings associated with that affair. But when Esmeralda reveals she has known all these years, his guilt and emotions come boiling to the surface. Harold is a passionate man. And passion can be dangerous.
Robin is a youngish gay lad, who helps the couple settle in their cottage. He is all too glad to hear the couple’s stories from yesteryear, but their tales of love point out the lack of romance in his own life. It’s unsettling to be confronted with what is essentially an emptiness in his life and it unleashes his sarcastic side. But then tragedy strikes and there is no longer any place for camp fun. With Esmeralda’s attitude to him turning unexpectedly hostile, how will he react?
Who is playing who it’s about?
Robin is a tricky character to get right and needs a versatile actor to show not just his comedic side, but more importantly, what’s going on beneath the surface. In Stephen McLeod we’ve found a great actor who can bring that humanity to the character, as well as again a tiny bit of menace. He’s played a plethora of characters on stage and screen, in plays ranging from Romeo & Juliet, Julius Caesar and King Lear, to The Maids and Private Lives. He was in features like A Wedding Most Strange and the upcoming The Young Pretender, as well as numerous short films. Stephen and I first worked together when I script-edited two episodes of the app-based comedy series Going Nowhere in which Stephen starred as Martin. Head on over to the gallery to watch his showreel!
We’re still waiting to confirm the casting for Harold, but we’re confident that we’ll find an actor who can match wits with Katy. As soon as we know more, we’ll let you know.
Where’s your money
No one will be surprised to learn film making costs money. While I managed to make Fall-Out on effectively a shoe-string budget, with the help of some amazing crowd funders and an even more amazing crew, Anniversary will be a more challenging project. The film will be longer, is set in a more expensive location, has a bigger cast and will be more adventurous stylistically. That in turn means more shooting days, more equipment, more mouths to feed – in short: more money. And we really do want it looking like Fall-Out, and not our much more basic crowd funding video.
We’ve already managed to secure a sizeable donation from Stichting PANN, a Dutch fund subsidising projects of the LGBT persuasion, but it’s not enough to make this project. That’s why we’re pursuing several avenues of sponsorship, including turning to you, our audience for further support.
What are the perks?
As thanks for support our film, we’re offering you our undying thanks, up on the screen for everyone to see, as well as a few more tangible tokens of our gratitude. You’ll find the complete list on the right, where we’ve even given them all themed names for your continued amusement! They include such extremely limited items as exclusive signed prouction photos, artwork and t-shirts. You can also increase your contribution per perk to include a DVD or Bluray of my previous film, Fall-Out. For some items, you’ll need to indicate a bit of extra information, such as sizes or preferences. You can let me know about any of these special requirements through the comments section – where you can even hide them from anyone but me, so that not everyone knows your shirt size.
Are you still reading? Making up your mind?
Go on, help us out. You know you want to. We did mention the eternal gratitude, right?