When Hannah and I were first paired up from our acting group and agreed to do a duologue I don't think either of us had anything more ambitious in mind than a bit of creative fun while we were in full lockdown. We started chatting on zoom and tried out a couple of scenes from various plays but nothing really had much resonance. Which is when I thought of the novel Rebecca which I have always loved.
The initial idea was to find a single scene between the two main female protagonists - the second Mrs de Winter and the sinister housekeeper, Mrs Danvers. The novel is a classic gothic horror story, with a young ingenue bride arriving at a spooky ancestral home with her glamorous, but mysterious husband, while the ghostly presence of his first wife, Rebecca, is felt everywhere and is manifested in the persona of Mrs Danvers who keeps everything "just as it was".
The conflict between these two women is the kernel of the story but the tension is allowed to build slowly across time so no one scene really seemed complete in itself, which is when we had the idea to mesh their main interactions into a way of telling the whole story. The speed from normality to mad dramatic conclusion, all within 10 minutes, is a bit of a gallop, but we hope we have produced a coherent narrative!
We rehearsed remotely using zoom, building on the characters and their relationship, but as everyone knows, zoom has its limitations for an actual performance and, as by then we were heading out of full lockdown, we were inspired to try and meet up so we could film in person. Roland then became involved and we went from a very simple thought of using a camera phone to deciding to make the most of the extended dearth of live performance opportunities and see what we could do, experimenting with film.
We had two fantastic days at an outdoor location using the ruins to represent the remembered house of Manderley with the scenes playing out almost as a dream. We learned a huge amount and fully acknowledge this is very much a fledgling attempt — we did not even have a director — with Roland having to play that role along with being camera-man, sound crew and editor!!
This is literally our first attempt, but we really hope it shows what can be done just with a small team, a tiny budget and heaps of enthusiasm! We have already shot a second "short" film and are looking forward to the challenge of doing many more and to learning and improving each time we do!