The Making Of Colours - Part I
Spellbound - Vol II Iss II
Resemblance to any persons, living or otherwise, in the cast list which follows is hardly coincidental. No, this does not mean you have to be able to put actual names, addresses and telephone numbers against all of them and there aren't any prizes being handed out even if you can. However, if you can't recognise some of them, you should not be reading this anyway because you are not really interested in the subject in hand.
Nevertheless, the characters in order of mention in the
"No, you didn't tell me," replied the Old Man with his typical one-liner.
"Yes, it's really something of a self-indulgence," added the Musician. "It's not your usual record company's choice for a single, but they've had three that have done reasonably well, so I thought it was not too unreasonable to have one that I liked this time round."
"Well, why not?" The Old Man paused for thought, and then, "Will there be a video made for it?"
"I hadn't thought about that. I suppose there will be."
The Old Man jumped in quickly this time. "Well, if it's going to be based on the story of the song, can I play the part of the old artist?" Follows a pause to let the first shock absorb a little and then the renewed attack, "You see, I thought you might want to create an illusion of the singer being the artist in his youth. Could you find an unrelated actor who could better pass as an older generation look-alike than myself?"
This time it was the Musician's turn for a pause for thought. It lasted a full two minutes before the finding was handed down. "It's a thought. Leave it with me. I'll get back to you on that one."
The Old Man was left with the feeling that this could be a minor variation of the old standard ending to most theatrical aspirations, "Don't call us, we'll call you." But he was wrong. Very soon afterwards he was presented with a neatly typed storyline of a video, a tape of the single mix, a copy of the song lyrics to learn and practice lip-synching with, all for the song "Man Of Colours," a verbal list of instructions and information on what was likely to happen next and, if not a definite pronouncement of "You're Hired," then a distinct impression that he might have landed the part.
The Old Man smiled broadly and, turning to the Real Artist
with whom he had shared house for some considerable time, said, "Gee,
Mum, at last I've made it into pictures."
First came the Director, a quiet uncertain-mannered young man, apparently bowed down by a host of worries. Just what his particular uncertainties were at that point of time could only be speculated upon by the Old Man and Real Artist. They rather suspected that the main one was whether or not is reputation as a video maker could withstand his acceptance of this current brief: that of directing a music clip to a tightly specified storyline, using unknown amateur actors not of his own choosing and within an even-more-tightly specified budget. He was, perhaps, a little reassured on the latter point, by it being explained that, in spite of other possible inadequacies, these amateur cast members came rather cheap. Furthermore, he received offers of the loan of all sorts of stage props pertaining to an artist's studio from the Real Artist's own considerable store: brushes, easels, paints, paintboxes, quantities of pencil sketches and even a life-sized head and shoulders portrait in oils appropriate to the story of the song. (Obviously, some considerable forward planning had been occurring in the home of the Old Man and Real Artist). The Director was also invited to consider the gratis use of that house as a filming site, even though some of the practicalities were a little daunting: at that stage the house was still under construction and lacked a number of facilities such as a regular electricity service.
Whatever, if any, effect these offers and assurances had, the Director was motivated by something to proceed with the project, as further visitors presented themselves, in quick succession, in the form of the Wardrobes Person and the Staging Person. The Old Man, whose role model for a Wardrobes Person was a man from his own home town who had made such a name in Hollywood designing gowns for Bette Davis,¹ was somewhat taken aback when a young woman arrived breathing concepts for attiring an elderly artist of 1920 which seemed equivalent to presenting Miss Davis in her most glittering ballroom scene in torn T-shirt and tattered jeans. The final straw, a scheme to deck him in trendy American garb topped with a baseball cap, sent the Old Man into disturbed mutterings that he thought he was to portray an old artist rather than a geriatric mascot for the Brooklyn Dodgers and that something would have to be done about this. In the event, of course, something was done about it and all problems of appropriate "gowns" for the Old Man's role were ironed out, even though he did have to find his own pair of "worn out shoes" (that was never a problem). It was subsequently revealed that wardrobes persons in these situations were contracted to supply the costumes, not just to choose them, and that sometimes the choices were rather more influenced by cost and availability from the local Salvation Army or St. Vincent de Paul (depending on one's individual persuasion) store, than any consideration of good theatre. The ultimate solution in this case came from the substantial percentage of the costuming being provided by the performers from other theatre wardrobe sources.
On the other hand, the Staging Person (his description of his role was "Art Director") was somewhat reticent about accepting a loan of the artifacts and equipment offered for stage props by the Real Artist. The reluctance did not seem to be borne of any high regard for the props themselves, or any fears that they might not survive the inevitable hassle and chaos of a filming situation unscathed. Rather, the key to it seemed to lie more in his admittance, early in the interview, that he had dropped into the filming business after dropping out of high school art teaching a short time ago. A response that the Real Artist had progressed to her present status from a similar professional beginning more than forty years earlier seemed to evoke strong defensive reactions. Apparently, the Staging Person was rather proud of his own level of artistic perception and was not keen to encounter any competition in that field in this new-found calling.² After due deliberation, he agreed to accept a range of loaned material on the strict understanding that discretion as to if, what and how it would be used in the video production was his alone.
Undismayed by any of these minor niggles (after all, the steps up into the halls of fame and Oscar Awards were always a bit rickety), the Old Man and the Real Artist awaited their next call. It came via their recently installed telephone in the form of the cultured voice of the Producer advising the date and location (obviously their own developing home had too little in common with Universal Studios to "win the Games") of the filming. Could they present themselves at Location 1 by 8 a.m. of Saturday next? Indeed, they would be pleased to. Whereupon the aging pair checked the picnic basket for cups, coffee and thermos flasks in good working order all, prepared and ate a hearty meal or two and proceeded to a good lie-down or so in preparation for the rigours ahead.
To be continued...
¹ Orry Kelly, the son of a tailor who plied his
trade at Kiama, NSW in the early 1900's and presumably passed on some
of his skills to be made much more profitable use of by the next generation.
These Kellys were not related to or in any wise similar in temperament
to the notorious Ned.