ManMoth Productions
23Feb/12

Hollywoodn’t, the ManMoth debut that never was. Part 2.

A big part of Hollywoodn't were the many days we spent filming. Filming? Err, yes. Hollywoodn't was to be the world’s first ever mixed-media comedy play (not really). We filmed roughly five separate short films across eight months that would have appeared during the play in some form or other. The play to be set in a screening room inside the eponymous cinema, where Daniel and James slowly lost their sanity during the course of the hour. Myself and Patrick saw a tremendous opportunity to make the theatre look and feel like a cinema, the centre piece of which was screen on stage that would play movies, trailers and even give us the opportunity to see the characters make their own films in a tense war of arty against mainstream.

A trailer for one of these shorts can still be seen on our youtube channel – Daniel Suckling’s The Lake of Human Existence. It was supposed to be an art house film made by Daniel, the more artistic and stupid of the odd couple protagonists, who believed the film to be one of the greatest ever made, much to James's dismay. Hopefully that’s enough context for you to watch the trailer without being seriously disturbed.

Another of the shorts was was a rather literal parody of Stephen Daldry's The Reader. We knew nothing about the film at all, other than it featured some illiterate nazi woman being read to occasionally. Is there more to the film than that? We don't care. Our version featured a man reading to a woman / nazi at her bedside across a montage. You could tell the character was a nazi because she we made her wear an officer's hat with the work GESTAPO written in block capitals on the hat's rim. As the film went on, the passages read became more and more ludicrous. We started with MacBeth, and eventually descended into the 1992 Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles Annual. You get the picture. Filming was long and hard, because we couldn't get through a single passage without someone giggling. 'Donatello was mondo pleased to meet his new friends Esther Rantzen and Frank Bruno' was a particular problem, mainly because of the encompassing picture. The film ended with the woman/nazi flinging herself out of a high window with a noose around her neck. Except, that's actually quite a hard thing to film, if you think about it. How did we solve this logistical nightmare? We tied a noose around a blow up sex doll dressed up in the woman's costume and threw it out of a window, filming it from the next street. You can imagine the stunned looks of passersby. Unfortunately, the Gestapo hat was lost in the melee, never to be seen again.

Basically, there was some pretty mad shit in these shorts, but mad shit a group of people planned, scripted, directed, filmed, acted in and spent real time on. Whether the films even still exist, I have no idea. It saddens me that the fruits of all our labour will never see the light of day. But I must say that the logistics of actually projecting these videos onto the back of a stage are problems I’m quite glad we never had a chance to try and solve.

Anyway, back to the play itself. Due to the increasing success of the Inbetweeners, Channel 4 was very keen about producing a film of the project in 2010. Unfortunately, the film faced a long year of production false starts, resulting in the shooting dates being more erratic than David Walliams’s sexuality. Soon it was clear that Blake Harrison's schedule was suddenly very full. He delivered the news like Jim Gordon might inform a sudden widow of her husband’s demise at the hands of the Joker, with a certain sympathetic dread. However, he was upfront with us and that was all we could have hoped for. The filming of the feature was due to occur early in the summer, and would have a drastic effect on when we had planned to rehearse. However, we tried to stay optimistic that we could sort something out. The filming was pushed back again, and again, and again, until we resigned ourselves to putting the play on in the winter. However, even that fell apart. Soon, our meetings had a sudden air of inevitability about them. The longer we waited, the more it seemed like the entire production was to collapse. Unless we could find a few hundred thousand pounds to pay Blake more than Channel 4 could, the production would not occur. Alas, even our planned bank robbery was cancelled due to the building being used as a filming location for an Inbetweeners Movie deleted scene (not really). We decided in mid-2010 that the production was to be put on an indefinite hiatus and the year ended with us not staging the play we had worked on for eight long months to produce. The Inbetweeners Movie went into production at the end of 2010, and became one of the highest grossing British films of 2011.

But, shit happens. Blake and Jack did their utmost to try and make the production happen, but it wasn’t to be. There can’t be any hard feelings, they were top guys and I hope that one day we might work together in some capacity again. So, Hollywoodn’t sits in limbo, untouched for nearly two years, waiting for the right moment to resurface. One of its characters, Daniel Suckling, managed to find his way into the 2011 production of A Hero’s Journey, and some of his lines were adapted from the original Hollywoodn't script.

With Hollywoodn't, we set out to achieve a style of comedy which can only be judged on how an audience reacts to it. Without producing it, we’ll never really know if we succeeded. I hope that one day we’ll give the script the run it deserves, and we’ll find out if it was even worth bothering or not. The Hollwoodn’t misfire was a learning curve, and a necessary one at that. We tried our hand at a great many things, giving us the know-how and experience to make A Hero’s Journey a relative success in 2011, and the life-lesson to never, under any circumstances, hire someone who earns more money in a year than we will earn in five.

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