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Unexpected Conversations: Caroline James

Production is in progress for our recorded theatre project Looking Down On Me. Developed with children’s bereavement charity Simon Says and funded by Arts Council England, Looking Down on Me has been reimagined as a recorded theatre performance and will be available as a digital resource.

Creative Content Producer Caroline James is passionate about bringing the vision of our creative team to life. She has been working to pull all the elements of our show together; from working with Director, Producer & Actor Rosanna Sloan; to composer James Boston and puppet designer Alex Milledge; to editing the footage together to produce the final cut.

Our Marketing Assistant, Bailee Parkes, took some time to ask her questions about what motivates someone to go into drama and film, and just what goes into a production like Looking Down On Me:

So, where did your passion for film and theatre really start?

Theatre was my first big passion. I started going to classes after school when I was 9 or 10 years old. At the time I was a very shy child, so what I loved about drama was that it was a way of escape; you didn’t have to be yourself, you could be someone else. When I was that age, that was almost the planting of the seed. I really enjoyed drama/theatre from then on. I acted in school plays, I did Acting LAMDA classes as an extracurricular thing and really honed my abilities. When I was 14 I started paying attention to performances in films. Around that time I watched Kubrick’s The Shining and that was when I started becoming properly interested in film. But, of course, it all stems from drama.

Where did that change in interest take place from performance to behind-the-scenes work?

I remember watching the behind-the-scenes for The Shining and being more interested in how the film was made. It almost was an instant turnover; I just started watching more films, trying to broaden my horizons, watching more international films as well. I started watching stop motion films also, especially ones by PES. He creates playful stop-motion films using household items. I remember being really torn between studying film or drama at university. I decided on film because I thought there would simply be more choice for roles in the film industry.

What does your role as a Creative Content Producer look like?

It’s a very varied role: a mix of filmmaking, video creation for trailers on the websites, I did photography for the Summer Youth Theatre project Hairspray.

I also teach children in creating stop motion animation; I had my first workshop in early July. It was really great to see those young girls aged around 9-13, not knowing how to create stop-motion, just building the confidence to come up with these ideas. I really enjoy it.

You previously interviewed the designer of the new LDOM puppets, Alex Milledge. Have you faced many challenges filming puppets? Anything you didn’t expect?

Looking Down On Me has definitely been a big learning curve, in terms of filming puppets for the first time - live-action puppets, at least. It was really about learning what Rosanna wanted as Artistic Director while making sure she and Becky were in shot as little as possible. We had to make sure the eye-line was correct, and find the balance between keeping the puppeteers out of frame and the puppets in frame. Sometimes the actors couldn’t see what they were doing!

What was it like filming the youth cast and the puppets on set?

The youth cast were around 7 years old and they coped really well working alongside the puppets and the actors. A lot of consideration went into how to stage the shots the youth cast were in; for instance, Annie almost looked too small next to the children, so we had to be creative to make her the same height when they sat down together.

Have you kept a goal in mind throughout this project?

When Rosanna and I had those initial discussions, we knew we wanted it to be more than just watching a live theatre show. We wanted to make it like a film, with stylistic features you wouldn’t see in the theatre like time-lapse or stop-motion. I don’t see it just as a “resource”, I see it as a film that’s trying to tell a very unique and personal story. I imagine it, above all else, as a quality film. That’s what I’m working towards.

What are you proudest of in your work on this show?

I take pride in knowing I’m working with Rosanna to bring her vision to life. I’ve been given a lot of creative freedom in filming and editing each scene. And mostly, I take pride in knowing that this can help a lot of people who may have lost someone close to them.

How would you sum up Looking Down On Me?

I would say that it’s a really uplifting and positive story about life after losing a loved one; there’s no element of shame in feeling how you’re feeling. It handles bereavement in a very kind way. People tend to shy away from talking about it and it’s very respectful of that.



Twitter: @carolinecjames

Instagram: @carolinejamesfilms

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