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29 June 2021

What a day. I met my producer at Claridges today. Our first viewing of Madeleine as a final cut. I got there early so took the chance to wander up and down Bond Street, South Molton, Oxford Street….

I wandered past Selfridges' windows. They always have the best displays, along with Liberty, Harvey Nichols and Harrods. I was the only person stopping to look at the windows. Good windows are just as much ‘art’ as any painting or sculpture. One window in particular called out to me, ‘Finding the Balance’. A dreamy, ethereal work of art.

The centre of London felt sad. Eerily quiet for the end of June. Almost no tourists. Retail has really suffered during the pandemic. So many of the smaller, independent shops were closed, out of business. Even chains like Pret and Itsu have closed some of their branches. South Molton and Bond Street in particular seem to have lost more than most. The people in town have changed too. No longer the well heeled locals or shopaholic tourists, most of them were workers or homeless. Even so, the city does have an enigmatic and beautiful feel to it when it’s quiet like this.

After getting lost in my post Covid dreamland I found myself rushing to get to Claridges in time. I don’t remember having been there before, but found it exactly as I expected; sweeping staircases, marble, brass, chequered tiling, uniformed staff… It used to be known as one of London’s ‘poshest’ hotels to use an old-fashioned word. Now it’s better known as one of its ‘top’ or ’classiest’ hotels. But ‘poshness’ hasn’t disappeared, it’s just taken a back seat in the lounges and bars of places like this.

Claridges exudes quality, comfort and privacy. It feels more club than hotel. An exclusive secret shared by the world’s elite. International, refined and discrete. A place where ‘outsiders’ are treated with equal respect and accommodation as regular guests, but perhaps with an underlying hint of suspicion? The perfect venue for my first viewing of the finished version of our story about a British spy called Madeleine. She would have been very at home in a hotel like this.

I was nervous and excited in equal parts. Nervous in case it wasn't as good as I hoped it would be. Excited, because this is what I'd been working towards since I wrote my first draft just over a year ago. The final result of a crazy and wonderful collaboration of producers, writers, directors, actors, film crew, set design, make-up, hair, etc. All pinning our hopes on producing a short so strong it would sell our feature film for us.

I watched it on the producer's phone (his laptop wouldn't work). His noise cancelling headphones were amazing. I was soon lost in ‘my’ world. I could tell from the very start that I wasn't going to be disappointed. I love the original score, it doesn’t just complement the story, it leads it forward and reflects on it. Music is like the ‘silent’ narrator of the film. The look and feel were exactly as I hoped they would be. He even included the song I’d suggested for the opening. I was beyond ecstatic. Seeing my words come to life in the lips of actors, watching stuntmen re-enact various scenes I’d written and rewritten hundreds of times. I can’t think of too many highs that beat this one. When the final credits rolled I was so pulled back into Madeleine’s world, I wanted it to continue to where I knew it was leading. I’m so proud of this film, proud and thankful that I had this opportunity. A producer who believed in my writing and made me feel part of the team from the start. His gift as a producer lies in his ability to bring the right people together, and more obviously he's very good at raising funds.

The editors did a brilliant job. The end result is way beyond what I could ever have hoped for. It's the weirdest thing in the world to see something that looks exactly as you imagined it when you wrote it. In fact, I think today I have fallen in love with film making on a whole new level. I still can’t share the film with anyone as it's been entered for all kinds of festivals and competitions. It's also being shown to some high level producers and directors who are interested in the feature. I'll let you know when it's available to view as I can't wait to see what you think of it.

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