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Lancaster University Film Production recently finished work on one of their 6 projects this year: Colour Blind. I sat down with writer, and director Sarah Wagstaffe.
What’s Colour Blind about?
The idea is that you can’t see colour until you find the person that’s supposed to be your soulmate, and then you can see colour. But it doesn’t quite work out like that in the film. The two characters who have each other, Theo (played by Johnson Johnnoy) and Catherine (played by Natalie Dyer) and they’ve fallen in love and they think that they’re the ‘one’. Then she starts to finds herself more attracted to Tom’s character and he kind of destroys it all.
The central theme then is: is there a ‘one’?
Definitely – although I suppose more arguing with the idea that there is a ‘one’. It’s more that there are multiple people that you can fall in love with, fall out of love with.
Where did the idea come from?
I saw Pushing Daisy’s and I wanted to do something that worked with colour like that does, but push it further and see how that works.
The use of colour must have been really central to the film then?
We tried to make it quite subtle at least towards the end. Obviously there’s supposed to be this big difference when they first meet, the whole world’s supposed to burst into colour. They shake hands and then it just bursts into colour, and you get their reaction to that because it’s supposed to have been the first time they’ve seen these colours.
But we wanted to kind of play with it later on, in that you don’t necessarily notice that it’s fading out, as they realised they don’t feel the same anymore. Eventually, when it gets to the end and it’s all disappeared, it’s only then that you look back and notice that it’s not as bright anymore, and the colours aren’t quite as vivid.
Red was the focus of the film. All of Natalie’s outfits had red in them, and there were red flowers. Again we tried to keep it subtle, something you notice as you look back.
Are the characters actively looking for romance?
Catherine definitely isn’t; she’s happy to wait for it she isn’t in much of a rush. Theo, on the other hand, is miserable. He’s been kicked out of his friend’s place because his friend has found a girlfriend, and he’s pretty depressed about the situation.
They have this idealised notion of what it’s going to be like – especially Johnnoy’s character, Theo – so when it doesn’t quite come to pass like that, Theo has to come to terms with that.
How’s it been going so far? It was quite hard to get off the ground initially, but it’s gone really well. It’s a small team, but we work really well together. The planning stage took a long time, because the idea wasn’t fully developed when we started; and we had to talk through how it work on screen, what we’d be able to do with the camera, the capabilities of the editing software, stuff like that.
There was three of us for the most part. Me, Eirini, and Siobhan. Siobhan operated the camera, and dealt with all the cinematography. Then I was directing, and I also wrote it, and now I’m charge of editing. I feel like a complete control freak basically [laughs]. Eirini was making sure everyone was organised – that we got there on time, that we had everything we needed etc.
It was a lot easier to keep everything in line, we all knew what we wanted, that we had the same idea of how the film was going.
How different is the finished film to how you initially conceived it?
I did work on writing for a film last year (LUFP’s Nerve Endings) but this time t was nice to work with the project all the way through, and watch it transform into this real thing. Rather than taking a break and looking at the end and going “that’s changed”.
It is never quite the same as you imagine it’ll be, but in some ways it’s better than you imagined it. It’s gone from something that I’ve always known how I’ve wanted it to look, into a finished piece that I’m really happy with.
At first it was a very different story – it was possibly just too depressing. It wasn’t a break-up at the end; they just died. It was a much longer film as well – possibly 40/50 minutes to do the original script, so we cut it down, made it a bit more uplifting.
Any favourite moments from the process so far?
The filming was the most fun part of it – Johnny, David (Gatward), and Natalie were really funny and easy to work with. There’s a post-funeral scene, where the two guys just break into song, and had a funeral song instead. We were quite impressed, we considered putting it in. It might have been more appropriate actually – one of the takes we did had a really inappropriate song in the background. We were shooting in Trev, and Freak Out was playing in the background.
You can catch Colour Blind at LUFP’s Showcase at The Dukes on the 15th June. For more information head to the LUFP: Colour Blind