Making Music… and Movies

Musician and filmmaker NICK SWANNELL has written this update for us on his activities, based at Studio 49 in Narberth…

Megan Lote-Williams and Bibi Macdougall in Scam

It goes without saying that 2021 has been a strange year for eveyone. I installed a covid-safe control booth in my studio back in August 2020; let’s just say the clients didn’t exactly come flooding in! But this year I’ve done a lot of work for an excellent singer-songwriter, Andy Lester, as well as a thought-provoking audiobook by local author Paul Griffiths. A young artist called JC has just finished doing an album here at Studio 49, and Pembrokeshire music legends Angelfish are just starting one. So I’m going into 2022 with a positive outlook, despite the challenges we’re all facing.

The other big thing I’ve been doing this year is making my first feature film. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a while, and I realised at the beginning of 2021 that this might be the year to do it – I knew some actors who were available, and I had the use of Theatre Gwaun in Fishguard as a location thanks to the generosity of Sue Whitbread who was running it at the time.

Writer and co-producer Alison Rayner did a fantastic job devising a story and writing the screenplay, and we shot it over a 19-day period in June. There were only four people in the crew most days so we all had multiple roles, although having a small cast and crew did at least make it easier to observe covid precautions.

We bought props and costume from charity shops, built sets, blagged locations, and borrowed vehicles and lighting equipment. Our motto was “Do what you can with what you’ve got” and that’s really the secret of no-budget filmmaking: write your script around the actors, locations and props you have access to. It forces you to think more creatively. My favourite example of this is a through-the-windscreen shot of a character driving across the Severn Bridge, which we filmed in a windy Fishguard car park with two of us holding a black cloth over the van to block the reflections. It looked pretty funny at the time, but the result is surprisingly convincing!

Adam Edgerley in Scam

The film is called Scam, it’s a crime drama featuring wonderful West Wales actors Cate Lovett (Under Milk Wood), Megan Lote-Williams, Bibi Macdougall and Adam Edgerley (Pint-Sized Plays); we were also lucky enough to get well-known actor Richard Elis (EastEnders, The Pact) to join the cast.

We’re in post-production now (editing, sound, music) and aiming for a spring 2022 release, with a red-carpet premiere at – where else? – Theatr Gwaun. We’re still developing our digital release strategy but the film will of course be available to watch online. It’s been a huge amount of work and it’s not over yet, but we’re very pleased with how the film is shaping up and we can’t wait for people to see it.

Cate Lovett in Scam

Nigel Summerley

Nigel Summerley retired from The Oldie magazine to return to freelance journalism. He previously held executive staff jobs at the London Evening Standard, The Daily Telegraph, The Sunday Telegraph and the Daily Express before freelancing for 20 years for newspapers including The Times, The Sunday Times, The Independent, The Guardian and the ‘i’ paper, plus a wide range of magazines. He continues to write about music, travel and health, and blogs at www.nigel-summerley.blogspot.com.

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