The Silent Star of Scam Takes a Bow

Writer Alison Rayner and director Nick Swannell on location for Scam ©Anna Warchus

From the private premiere of Scam, a new film by local director Nick Swannell…

There were deafening roars of approval from the capacity crowd at Theatr Gwaun last Saturday. 

There’s something surreal about watching a film in the building where much of it was filmed – even more so when the building is one of the main characters. 

I spoke to one of Scam’s stars, Bibi MacDougall. She told me she’d been happy to interrupt her London stage career to come back to her native Pembrokeshire, especially as she enjoyed making a film with three female leads. In a way, though, there were four. Theatr Gwaun itself was the ever-present fourth female character: the story revolves around her future, as much as that of the other protagonists. 

Lockdown was a challenge to this production as it was to most things, but it also gave an opportunity to film in the empty theatre – in June 2021.  

The film begins with some beautiful countryside scenes – there’s great cinematography right from the start – but soon it starts to focus on the main story. Cate Lovett plays a pushy showbiz mother who splits her time between her two favourite activities – harassing her younger daughter, Ellie (Megan Lote-Williams), into improving her singing, and conning gullible males out of money to help her save the theatre. Bibi plays the estranged elder sister, Evie, who reappears on the scene and immediately kicks the action into overdrive. 

If I started to explain the plot from this point on, I’d only confuse myself trying to explain all the twists and turns. There are a lot of them. All three family members are busy scheming, and you don’t know who comes out on top until the edge-of-the-seat last frame.

The plot was the brainchild of the multi-talented Alison Rayner, who is also a sculptor and graphic designer. Although the film is firmly rooted in and around Fishguard, Ali is from the North Island of New Zealand. She was actually at home in NZ when director Nick Swannell invited her to be involved in the project, and she immediately offered to write the screenplay.

On the day of the private premiere, Nick told me he’d naturally had a stressful day, with two showings of his baby, the theatre packed with people who had been involved in the production, as well as wellwishers, journalists and reviewers. He’s now looking forward to showing the film in theatres and festivals across the country, but the next performances will stay local.

On Saturday 14 May, at 7.30pm, Theatr Gwaun will host the public premiere.

On Friday 8 July, also at 7.30pm, the film will be shown at the Torch in Milford Haven.

There will also be screenings at some point at Theatre Mwldan, Film4Tenby and the Queens Hall, Narberth.

Later in the year, Scam will hit an online screening service near you… watch this space!

For premiere tickets: https://theatrgwaun.com/cinema/ or call 01348 873421.

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