The fraught, pre-wedding tinderbox of emotion where fears are confronted and questions are raised in the run-up to that life-changing event is the setting for Jimmy Swindells‘ short film The Aisle.
‘It’s a pressure cooker situation,’ said Jimmy, who as a former wedding photographer has seen this more times that you can shake a bridal bouquet at.
‘It’s a one-location film set in a bridal suite, and it’s ramping up the pressure in the hour leading up to Becky the bride deciding to walk down the aisle.’
That hour running up to event-planner Becky’s wedding sees a series of problems set to ruin the big day. But the problems don’t take centre stage.
‘The story is about her relationship with her dad and the way that he tries to steer her through these obstacles,’ said Jimmy.
‘It’s really about her coming to terms with her own sense of who she and her groom are, and whether she does, in fact, want to get married at all.’
It’s a film that joins Becky at the crossroads that she’s come to.
“It’s about self-realization and father/daughter relationships: it’s about tight-knit families,” said Jimmy.
‘We’re trying to straddle that line between being a drama -which it is -with elements of humour and quite dark comedy. It’s the comedy that arises from things falling apart around you. It’s the humour of a close family in the midst of a meltdown, the gel of light relief to highlight the drama.
‘Ultimately, I want to make something entertaining that people can enjoy watching and can relate to,’ said Jimmy. ‘Life is full of of those situations -you’re up and down all the time.’
Having shot weddings for four years, it’s an emotional maelstrom Jimmy has some familiarity with. Part of Jimmy’s inspiration is his ‘background in photography and having been in those exact situations with the bride, with the father of the bride, the mother of the bride, sisters and brothers, in the bridal suite just before she gets married.’
Jimmy is also pulling on his own experience for the intimate location of The White House at Chillington.
‘I’ve actually stayed there with my wife before we were married,’ he said. ‘The room we stayed in has the perfect layout for the film and the events that take place in the film.’
Cast and crew were assembled through producer Silver Levy-So, who managed to get together actors and crew from Devon films he’s worked on before. Unbeknownst to each other, they’ve worked on the same film together, but had never met -Peter Nicholson’s film Dartmoor Killing.
‘This is my first film I’m making in Devon, so he’s been really good support in putting me in contact with people he’s worked with on other short films and features,’ said Jimmy.
They managed to cast most of the people in two audition days. For the lead, the bride Becky, they had assistance from London casting director Jane Frisby.
‘Jane helped me out on my first short film, and she very kindly managed to put together a list of actors who had a connection to Devon,’ said Jimmy.
‘Devon is a great setting, and has many great locations,’ said Jimmy. ‘One of the actors is from Dorset, but I’d say about 98% of the cast and crew are either from Devon or living in Devon. It’s a very Devon-based film.’
That connection was important, what with the film’s budget and because it was supported by an Exeter Phoenix bursary.
‘I saw the commission, and I’m at that phase in my life when I’ve made a few films before and I was in a position to be on the lookout for work that is local. I had the idea floating around my brain for a short film about a wedding,’ said Jimmy.
Scriptwriting and directing are Jimmy’s passions and the mentoring and support he’s had through the Exeter Phoenix bursary scheme has been invaluable, he says, mentioning scriptwriter Lucy V Hay. After The Aisle, Jimmy’s got a feature he’s been working on to get off the ground.
‘That’s the next stage for me, really,’ he said. ‘Getting the script ready for the feature, and looking for finance. It’s ultimately what I got into filmmaking to do. I’ve got to keep pushing myself to working towards that.’
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