Britflicks (BF) speaks with film director Deanna Dewey (DD) about her recently completed comedy feature, DEAD FRED.
Outline: When three older women take over the care of a dear friend who has dementia, they get more than they bargained for when they discover she’s hiding her dead husband in the freezer…
(BF) How did the Movie Dead Fred come about?
(DD) I was given the script written by American novelist Sherrie Kelley and it made me laugh. It reminded me of a modern day take on black comedy films such as Arsenic and Old Lace and The Lady Killers.
The original script was set in the USA and there was one main cultural difference in that I had to explain to Sherrie that British women are not in the habit of keeping a Colt ’45 (or indeed any other gun) in their knickers drawer. But the story is universal and only needed a couple of other minor alterations to be set in the UK instead. We did keep one of the main characters, Georganne, as an American, played by American actress Sandra Dickinson.
(BF) How easy was it to cast?
(DD) I wanted to make a film which showed older woman still had a life and can be interesting in their own right instead of clichéd mother or grandmother roles. There are not enough decent parts for older woman and this script had wonderful roles for four mature women.
I sent the script to experienced Casting Director, Angela Grosvenor, who liked the script and she kindly assisted in casting. This was the first time I had worked with a Casting Director and it was a positive experience and made me think completely outside of the box. The result was we had a fantastic cast in Sandra Dickinson, Jane How, Susan Kyd and Judy Norman.
I had already worked with the remaining cast Tim Faraday, Jamie Bannerman, Henry Douthwaite, Julia Savill and Melissa de Mol. Plus Caroline Logan who also worked as Production Manager on the film.
(BF) What were the high points of filming?
(DD) It was a joy working with such experienced actresses and actors. And wonderful filming in the New Forest area instead of London - as the The New Forest has so much to offer and everything we needed was close by. Director of Photography John E Fry brought on a great locally based crew.
We were a small but friendly team of both cast and crew. As the movie is about enduring friendships – it was lovely that during filming new friendships were formed which have carried on ever since.
(BF) What were the low points of filming?
(DD) Filming on a lower budget was challenging. Some of the movie was shot at our own home, which was also used as the filming base. After everyone else had left for the day - I was clearing up the daily mess - which included scrubbing the bathroom ready for the next day’s shoot. With a loo brush in hand I remember thinking, “who says a director’s life is glamorous?”
(BF) How do want people to think/feel after watching DEAD FRED?
(DD) The film is celebration of friendship and how far friends will go to protect each other. It should appeal to a range of age groups as everyone has friends. The main characters may be older but audiences will be able to relate and identify with their struggles and hopefully have a few laughs along the way.
I would hope after watching the film the audience would come out chuckling and feeling uplifted.
(BF) Did it change how you look at life or death in any way?
(DD) The movie is not really about death – it is more about life. But sadly, Mike Plumbley, who played DEAD FRED has since died. Mike was a good friend and one of life’s good guys. When I asked Mike if he wanted to play Fred his response was “Is the Pope a Catholic?” So I now watch the film with mixed emotions – but it still makes me laugh.
(BF) What have you got planned next?
(DD) I recently directed another feature film, a family adventure called SKULLZ. We have just finished filming some pick up shots and the movie should be released next year.
I'm also on pre-production of a short comedy film written by Sam Snape. Plus working on writing a feature script CLONER based on the novel ‘Cradle of Secrets’ written by Emma Lorant.
(BF) Deanna Dewey, thank you for taking time out to talk with BritFlicks.