Family vs Ambition. Love vs Duty. Chekhov vs Chicken Feet?
Will Susan Lee forfeit her dream stage debut to save the family Chinese takeaway from repossession by local loan sharks by appearing alongside her very traditional yet highly embarrassing family on Les Dennis’ TV game show Fame To Fortune?
The feature film Fortune Cookies is full of firsts so I was glad when The Flaneur approached me about keeping a diary of sorts of the process I am going through to produce it. I am a first-time feature film producer and this will be the first film from my company Reelscape Films. This is the writer Brenda Lee’s first feature film and it’s also her first as a director. It could possibly also be the only British Chinese comedy to come to the big screen in the last twenty years or even longer. You could think that is a relatively big challenge to deal with on its own but it is another first which makes this project so out-of-the-ordinary: a 16-week “Learning, Literacy And Livelihoods” themed workshop and work experience programme intertwined with the production of this commercial feature film, where young people will work with our film professionals to have a tangible impact on the film.
I’d made a short film with school children before embarking on this feature. The idea to combine the filming with an educational project came from a desire to add value and worth to the very-time-consuming process of short film production. It worked so well that I wanted to take the same principles of mutual benefit to the feature film process – if I can produce the film and increase its potential whilst also providing a valuable educational scheme, that’s got to be the best way to work!
I devised a scheme with a secondary school in Northamptonshire, the county where my company is based, that aims to increasing students’ engagement with Learning,
Literacy and Livelihoods through our workshops and work experience. For example, using the multi-disciplined, popular medium of film we can offer unique literacy activities – working with our script and storyboarding – and practical demonstrations of how our professionals use science in their world of work. I hope this link between the commercial and educational will inspire confidence and respect in students.
The social enterprise model is also helping us attract support. Our latest success, after our launch at the EDF Energy London Eye 4D cinema supported by the Eye, has been the backing of Elstree Studios which has pledged studio space for the game show section of our shoot. The students and I are incredibly excited to be making the film at the home of British cinema. Roger Morris, MD of Elstree Studios says, “We like the idea of supporting young film makers. Becky is based in the East of England and had the initiative to contact us and we were very interested in what she was trying to do. We feel what we are doing is an example of the type of contribution that facilities and studios should make to young aspiring film makers. I was similarly helped when I was a film student at London Film School many years ago. I hope other studios will take note.”
The social enterprise model has encouraged us to use social methods of funding, alongside the traditional. We have started a crowd-funding campaign on Sponsume.com. It allows the public and businesses an easy, public way to back our educational scheme as well as have unique days out on set or share a Chinese takeaway meal with our cast and crew. This social model has added a lot more enjoyment to the slog that is raising finance – whether it be the heart-warming feeling I get when someone backs the project with their hard-earned cash, the excitement the students have about visiting Elstree the home of British cinema or the fun of running some of the workshops we have already done with school children.
To find out more about the film take a look at our website www.fortunecookiesmovie.co.uk and please spread the word!