CODE NAME: "LONG HAUL" // 14.04.2006
On Saturday 1st April, despite the inherent foolish connotations, Ben Brennan, Darren McAree and Andrew Davidson met together for a 'table read' of the latest draft of The Musicals' screenplay. The last time that they were together was in March 2005 for the film's Teaser Trailer shoot and it was in October 2004 that they had last sat together to read the screenplay aloud. So what has changed in that time?

'I think the major change, certainly in the last year and a half,' says writer-director Davidson, 'Is that we don't have a foreseeable start date.' The film was originally scheduled to go before cameras in late 2004, but the loss of original producer Kathryn Waters and financial difficulties delayed the shoot.

With new producer Andrew Rowell, the production was moving ahead steadily to start in early spring 2005, yet again ongoing financial complications pushed the date to mid summer, then late summer until the loss of significant finance in the summer of 2005 forced the film-makers to put the film on hold again, this time with no guesses as to when work would begin.

2005 came and went with disappointment. 'Certainly it was sad not to have made the film last year,' continues Davidson, 'We were pretty tired by the end and people moved on to other things. If there is a positive that has come from this, I think the downtime has allowed us to come at the film afresh. It's an ambitious project, but it's very accessible. It's a stronger film than it has ever been.'

Davidson isn't a lone voice on the matter either, Ben Brennan who plays Tim Luther in the film and has been attached to the film since late 2004 explains his feelings on the film. 'I like it, I like Trisha. Not 'like her' like her, but I think that her character has really developed and is one of the most interesting roles in the script.'

'It's as if everything she says she has heard someone else say, but wasn't listening properly,' says Davidson of Trisha, 'So it comes out muddled. That's really fun to write.'

Another character that leaps from the page as being fun to write for is global pop phenomenon Judah, played by Darren McAree. The original intention for Judah was to be a little seen or heard supporting role who helped drive the plot. Davidson explains the appeal in Judah being 'because everyone loves him, he can do no wrong no matter what he does or says to any extreme degree. That's amazingly liberating, especially for comedy purposes.'

McAree agrees, having seen the character's importance to the themes and narrative of the film grow with each draft, 'He just says things, anything, because people listen and it doesn't matter what he says as long as it's something. Often he just repeats what people say to him back to them. What I think Andy has really captured, and I think this is important, is that Judah isn't a bad person or a stupid one, quite the opposite and you genuinely like him, you're just seeing him unedited at all times, and everyone loves that. That's fun to play with.'

The screenplay has changed a lot over the last two years, yet the film's love story and central themes of tolerance and acceptance have, if anything, grown stronger. They are the foundation on which the rest of the madness is built. When asked at the table read how he feels the film has developed Andrew Davidson said, 'It's been an interesting development process, seeing what works, what doesn't, things have come and gone and come back again. Judah's concert, which is the setting for the end sequence, was there at the start but got cut out for a couple of drafts, but it's back now and it works really well, getting everyone there for the finale.'

The project, starting as a concept for a ten minute short film in 2002, has come along way and by all accounts has probably got some way to go before it finally reaches screens. 'I really believe in the film,' says Davidson, 'Not just as a piece of entertainment, but as a piece of social commentary of sorts. If I didn't I would have probably given up a long time ago. Being here with Ben and Darren, hearing these words, laughing together at these moments, that's what keeps me going. They've been with this as long as I have, and the fact they are still passionate about it means a lot. We're in this for the long haul and it will be worth it.'


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