Acting careers, are mainly a journey. And journeys take time. ‘Tides’ a film that has just been released on DVD, is a film about a journey, one that takes time. From its unusual filming style, the total collaborative effort between all the actors on set, to it’s release this week, this is my journey on it.
I had worked with Jon on an immersive, site-specific theatre piece called ‘Cheese’ by FanShen Theatre in Spetember 2013. We had such a good time doing Cheese that we’d kept in touch and become good friends. Certainly, by the end of Cheese, I felt Jon was one of the good people in this industry: Generous, funny, empathic and someone who wore his heart on his sleeve. He was also one of those actors that I felt free with, free to do whatever I could onstage, encouraging by how good he was. Someone that made me up my game. I had learnt so much from him by the end of the process.
In 2014 Tupaq Felber
Jon told me about a project that he might be doing with this friend who is an editor and film-maker at some point. I thought nothing of until Jon asked me to meet up with his friend, director Tupaq Felber in 2015. Tupaq, or ‘Toops” as he gets called, and I met and over coffee, he asked me whether I’d be interested in being in this project, recommended by Jon, I guess. He told me the background of it and the practicals (a weekend later this year) and also a few meetings with himself to discuss character and then dinners and drinks with the rest of the cast over the next few months.
I have my misgivings about these projects usually. Deferred payments, not getting any footage for years, being out of pocket for the project. That’s been my experience so far after nearly 20 years of acting. But it promised to be a relaxing weekend on a canal in Surrey with friends. Because of the nature of the project, there was to be no written script as such but a series of improvisations between the 4 of us and the supporting cast, filmed in real time, guided by Tupaq. It sounded like a laugh and a break, more than anything. A weekend was set and we were ready to film.
I head to Surrey to Tupaq’s family’s home where we’re staying overnight. I’m one of the last of the cast to arrive as I’d been temping that Friday. I’d booked the time off at the cafe I was the weekend chef at. Busy making a living while doing acting. Such is the actor’s life. Early the next day, we get miked up and costumes are chosen from what we’ve brought with us. Jon and I set off to the barge house.
Much has been said about the ‘naturalistic acting style’ in the film and I must say Toops made us all feel really comfortable and confident that whatever we did would be valid. Just be ourselves. From the first few moments of filming, I stopped being aware that a camera was there. The opening scene might have taken a few takes but it was important to get the right feel. One of the few scenes that we did multiple takes on. Once that was in the can, what you seen in the film was in real-time. The DoP shot everything on Alexa (which is a type of lens, apparently). From what I was doing, to what I can see on the finished edit, I had learned so much about film acting in that. I’d love to do more.
Three days of not much sleep, hard drinking and just being with each other gets captured on film. I was wondering… will this film look like a holiday video?
In August, we get a flurry of messages from Tupaq on the Tides Whatsapp group. Are we available to do some ADR for Tides?
“What? What do you mean? ADR?!”
“Additional Dialogue Recording”, Tupaq says.
“I know what it means, I want to know what you mean”
“The film’s finished, it’s in the running for entry into the London Film Festival.”
WOW. F**KING AMAZING!!!!!! Not only did Tops get the edit finished, thanks to Dominic Dromgoole’s Open Palm Films, we’re in the running for selection!
We do some ADR in Soho and for me, it’s the first time I’d seen or heard anything about the film. It looks amazing, the clips that I’d seen. By October for the festival, I’m up in Manchester doing a play called ‘Parliament Square’ at Manchester Royal Exchange Theatre. I come down for the weekend for the premiere. The reaction from the audience is so warm. I’ve gathered a few good friends to come and watch it at the premiere. The audience is huge! They’re laughing! At the right bits too!!! Tupaq must be elated. Not only at the reception but also it gets the film introduced to AX1 Films, who eventually become the distribution company. It’s really rare that a debut film ever gets seen at the London Film Festival, it’s even rarer that it gets a distribution deal.
The release of Tides at indie cinemas up and down the country. Toops, Jon, Red and Simon all attend (I can’t as I’m performing that evening in ‘Witness For The Prosecution’). The Q&A is filmed and is used as part of the extras for the DVD package. Between October and February 2019 the film gets seen in Glasgow, Nottingham, Derby, Chichester, longboat cinemas and finally in Regent Street. For Toops, this is the start of his journey as a film-maker. He now needs to make ‘the difficult second album’ but what a calling card ‘Tides” is for him. For all of us.
This has been an amazing ride for me on Tides, this feature film by Tupaq Felber as it is released this week on DVD . If you’re a member of BFI Film iTunes, Amazon and ChilliFilms, you can watch it there.TIDES Official Trailer from AX1 Entertainment on Vimeo.