Enough Rope is ten minutes of near chaos. Everything is a blur. Too much happens for the mind to fully take it all in. This is a very good thing, because it perfectly captures the rush of taking action for a cause you believe in, as history seems to speed up all around you.
Loosely based on events at the 2003 G8 protests in Switzerland, Enough Rope tells the story of Iris (Vicky McClure), a brave and determined young activist who tries to stop delegates reaching a summit by hanging a rope over a bridge, with a protester at each end. There are hopes that it could be made into a feature length film.
I asked writer/director Lynne Harwood about the ideas behind the film, getting the idea onto screen, and Liverpool-based production company First Take’s plans for the future:
How did the idea for Enough Rope come about?
We were shortlisted for North West Vision and Media’s Digital Departures Feature Film Scheme with the political action thriller Looking for Iris and, although we got down to the last twelve, we didn’t get through as the budget was too high for the scheme. By this time we had Vicky McClure interested in playing the lead role of Iris. Vicky played Lol in the BAFTA award-winning This Is England as well as in Madonna’s directorial debut film Filth and Wisdom so it was great to have her attached. We were advised to create a short film with the same lead character using Vicky and approached her with this proposition. She loved the character of Iris – a driven political activist – and agreed to be in the short. [I] wrote ‘Enough Rope’ drawing from a true story that happened on the Aubonne Bridge action during the G8 summit in 2003.
The treatment for the film was accepted by Northwest Vision and Media as one of the fourteen films to be developed working with the Script Factory. After months of development the films were shortlisted into four that would be produced. Enough Rope was one of the films chosen. In pre-production the agony was finding a bridge that we could close for about a week. The total budget was £12,000 so there was no way we could afford to spend much on location – this meant England was out of the question. Finally we managed to get a bridge in France so it meant taking the cast and crew over there. Auditions took place in Claremont Ferrand for some of the cast, also London and Liverpool. The crew was made up of the six members of First Take (we didn’t want to leave anyone behind and it was great staff training!) but we had to recruit other members and were looking to get them all from the North West – which we did. The shooting took place over six days on location near Ambert. Post-production took place over several months with lots of work in sound design.
There are challenges producing any short film, each film is different. This short isn’t intended to be part of the feature as such. It isn’t a moment from the feature. It is a separate event entirely but it is something the main character in the feature could have experienced. The challenges in creating it was to get the world of the activist right. This was really helped by Jane Farley of First Take having been an activist and through her being able to directly contact the activists involved in the action.
First Take has worked on a co-production with a Norwegian Company, Sydvest Film, to produce a documentary series for broadcast. This project was one of the Liverpool Commissions in Liverpool 08. First Take is presently working on a project with the LGBT community of LIverpool entitled Pink: Past and Present. We are also producing eight films as part of our talent development scheme aimed at people under-represented in the film industry, which is supported by Northwest Vision and Media. One of the films from last year has been nominated for Femme Fantastic at the London Short Film Festival.
Enough Rope was made to introduce the main character (and of course Vicky McClure playing her) as well as the world of the activists – in order to create interest in the feature film and therefore help us to raise funding for development and then production. We are hoping Enough Rope will do this. Already it has been selected as one of the films to play at a special screening at BAFTA as one of the Best in the Northwest and has had interest from a producer. It is playing at Cannes Short Film Corner this month…so fingers crossed.