Back in August, myself and Alice Powell - the fantastic editor of The Closer We Get - holed up in my home studio once again and spent a gleeful week editing extra scenes together, from material shot for the film, that had reluctantly ended up on the cutting room floor. These scenes ranged from yet more of the poignant wisdom of my mum Ann, to a strangely hilarious drowsy chat between my parents,
'What's that special sauce you have with fish?"
And a compilation of Jack the Cat's movie highlights (this last still an epic work in progress, sorry Mark, I know it's been a long time coming...).
This special festive trailer was also begun back in summer, and we're very pleased to share it with you now.
'Creepy Christmas' was a bit of archive home movie from about 2006, that we'd returned to often during the film edit, but that eventually we'd cut out of TCWG. It was too weird, too funny, too extraordinary to find a place and to stay there. Whenever we tried to cut it in it derailed the scenes around it, and made you want to see more of it. Most documentary shoots have a scene or two like that, that end up out because of their strength, not their weakness. Anyhow, 'Creepy Christmas' had been conjured up during a damp Lake District family Christmas when I had somehow cajoled almost the entire Guthrie clan to collaborate on this short film, the story of which was by the oldest grandchild Zoe, who you will now know as one of the stars of The Closer We Get, though back then, she wouldn't appear on film. It involved a 'Christmas Gem' stolen by my brother Mark (a kind of lonely ogre in make-up, chillingly brilliant) who abducted a niece and had to be told to come to his senses by Dad (Santa, in an appalling paper beard) with such unforgettable lines as "If you want people to love you and give you things, then give me back that ruddy Christmas Gem". Mum's cameo as Mrs Claus revolves around her berating Santa / Dad for eating all the mince pies, and corpsing very badly. It's hardly Pinter...
Of course, now I can recognise many things in this sort-of prequel to TCWG: I got most of my family on film, after all. But more importantly, there are subtexts galore played out in these stilted scenes: My dad 's feelings about his son, my parents' irritable co-dependency. Even the fact that Campbell bailed out before he could be filmed.
But being one of the last Christmases before my Mum's stroke also lends the film great poignancy for me. I see a fun-loving, extrovert, mischevious side to my brother Mark that the subsequent years ground down, I remember how my parents could make each other laugh like noone else could, in infectious and uncontrollable fits that had them both in tears. I remember how my whole family could, even after all we'd been through, get on the same page sometimes and be brilliant. Together.
Fast forward to Christmas 2012, the last family Christmas with my mum Ann, an event also featured in this festive trailer. This was my first (and to date, last) go at producing the entire Christmas dinner. It was pretty successful, and fun to do (once), but I was reminded how much my Mum must have grafted to feed us all with such apparent ease. It was, of course, NOT easy, but she made it seem so because she loved us.
Although Dad massacred my beautifully-cooked bird in the carving (see trailer above), he redeemed himself by producing his usual brilliant brandy butter. Noone knows how he manages to get so much alcohol into it, but he does (or rather, I do now, because I filmed it). Yep, I complicated the day rather more than most by also deciding to film it. I'd mooted this with my DoP / Co-producer Nina that she could spend the day with us, and quite naturally her partner vetoed this idea. So I'd ended up juggling the camera, the sound kit and a 9 pound turkey. Let noone say I lack ambition.
Mark had been working nights, so appeared only to eat before passing out again. Campbell was on better form and manfully peeled the chestnuts, a job noone wants to do. Mum was drowsy most of the day until noone could get the joke from my cracker,
"Why would you invite a mushroom to a party?"
From the corner of the room and beneath a paper hat over one eye Mum swiftly piped up,
"Because he's a fun guy"
Dad was very patient as I filmed not only the brandy butter technique (classified material, surely) but us watching TV, lolling about on the sofa and generally being Christmassy. It was an especially painful decision to edit this scene out of the final film, when it had been so hard-won. So it's with great pleasure I see it now in the trailer for posterity.
Christmas is a hard time to be without Mum, but seeing her become such a star in her own right through the ever-growing success of The Closer We Get, makes it a bit easier.
Happy Christmas, and the whole team thanks you so much for your support of The Closer We Get.