Putting The Waiting Back Into Wanting

The Crunch‘s screenplay, now a pleasingly digestible 94 pages – my cyber-age attention span is as shrunk as anybody’s – is out for casting after very positive feedback from a wide range of readers. Celestia sees the lead part of ‘Charlie’, the 30-something ex-Army fund manager, as having A-list actor potential. Though these days stars don’t guarantee a film’s bankability they remain the best chance and are the ones whom everybody wants. Their agents, besieged by supplicants, have to weed out a limited number which they feel merit their clients’ attention. So just having an in-demand actor read your screenplay is something of an achievement.

A 2-day You-Tube/Google devouring of the current list of leading names in Charlie’s age category, mindbending in their diversity, left me with a charisma hangover. Each would bring their own chemistry and interpretation to the part. And whatever one’s inner vision of a character when writing a screenplay it’s what the actor could bring to it, the bends and layers, that really excites. Over a long pizza lunch in keeping with the film’s modest budget the Dream Team and I have made our picks. Now it’s all waiting, hope in lock-down and expectation in padded cell.

John Boorman recounts Billy Wilder telling an apologetic festival organiser at Cannes; “Do I mind waiting? I’ve spent my life waiting! Waiting for the actors to read the script, waiting for the money, waiting for the sun to go in, waiting for the sun to go out…In 50 years of filmmaking do you know how long the camera was running? Maybe two weeks!” By that yardstick mine would be around three hours.

My British Documentary project Getting Real is getting God-only-knows where, such is the glacial pace of TV these days. My agent Elaine Steel, like Celestia, calls a spade a JCB and for both of them film and TV’s snail-like, risk-averse ways make them “just no fun any more”. But new BBC Director General Tony Hall, ‘putting the arts back at the centre of the BBC’ and seeking ‘outreach’ to cultural institutions, seems a ray of hope.

When the Access consumer credit card was launched in 1972 their billboard strapline was ‘Access Takes The Waiting Out Of Wanting’. The TV/movie business puts it right back in.


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