I co-wrote/directed/produced The Beach House with Tom Stanley. The film was our graduation film, but we never thought of it as just that at any point in film’s production.
At the casting stages we made it clear to the actors we were aiming to make a film that could be taken to film festivals, it wouldn’t be just a ‘student film’. We wrote the film in August/September 2010 while travelling through the Balkans on the cheap. We used the long train journeys as time to discuss ideas and start writing.
Some of the inspiration for the character of Enola came about during a documentary we filmed at Bidwell Brook School in Dartington. The school is for children with autism and other special needs. We met a young deaf girl during filming. After meeting this girl she ended up inspiring the development of Enola’s character. The idea for the film came from many places but most significantly Le Pays des sourds a documentary by Nicolas Philibert and also an article from the Guardian.
The article talked about doctors not being able understand how deaf parents were happy when their child was diagnosed as deaf. The doctors saw it as a disability the child had been born with but, the parents saw the child as being born into their wonderful deaf culture. We wanted explore this by creating a dynamic where a hearing child of deaf adults found it hard to feel included. We wanted to challenge people’s perceptions of deafness.
We were re-drafting deep into pre-production throughout the end of 2010 all the way up to April 2011 when we shot the film. We cast Chloe Montague from holding auditions at stagecoach in Barnstaple. Our deaf actor, Alex Nowak who plays Emmet, was cast in London along with McKinley Blake.
The film has currently received these accolades:
Nahemi Eat Our Shorts Festival 2011, Cornwall Film Festival 2011, Munich International Festival of Film Schools 2011, Two Short Nights Film Festival 2011, Exposures New Talent In Moving Image Film Festival 2012 (Nominated for Cinematography), 5th British Shorts Film Festival Berlin, 2012. (5th place Audience Award), Ffresh: The student Moving Image Festival of Wales 2012 (Nominated for Best UK Graduate Fiction), Watersprite: The Cambridge International Student Film Festival 2012. (Nominated: acting as an ensemble), Screentest: The UK’s National Student Film Festival 2012. (Nominated for Cinematography), Made the unannounced long-list for BAFTA short film award 2012, Won best undergraduate drama -Royal Television Society South Awards 2012.
Take a look at behind the scenes of The Beach House: