Nimmos Twins in Cambridge film festival

VIV THOMAS Comedy stars the Nimmo Twins and a host of children from Norfolk feature in a short film about pirates which has its UK premiere at the 25th Cambridge Film Festival.

VIV THOMAS

Comedy stars the Nimmo Twins and a host of children from Norfolk feature in a short film about pirates which has its UK premiere at the 25th Cambridge Film Festival.

A More Sensible Choice (debuting Thursday July 14), centering on the power of imagination and dreams in childhood, is one of a series of films by directors from the east of England providing big-screen entertainment at the festival (which began runs until July 17) and is the result of a real team effort by individuals and organisations in Norwich.

Dan (played by ten-year-old Luke George from Norwich Central School of Dancing and the Performing Arts) has the mickey taken out of him at school for his dream of becoming a pirate. But then something magical happens - he wakes up and can't believe his eyes for instead of the four walls of his bedroom he finds himself on a pirate ship...

The film is the work of writer/directors Joe Mackintosh and Max Fisher who got the project off the ground with the support of many local organisations and individuals.

They got technical support and use of a studio at Anglia Television, sets painted by Richard Matthews from the Theatre Royal, local actors the Nimmo Twins and Tim Seeley, while Dan's classmates were children from Millfield Primary School in North Walsham, and rehearsal space was used at the University of East Anglia.

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Joe and Max first worked together on the promotional film to support Norwich's bid to become European Capital of Culture 2008 and set up their Norwich-based production company FisherMackintosh. As well as making drama, documentary and community films, they are developing a second series of Five's children's drama The Secret of Eel Island.

The theme of the film was partly inspired by the directors' own experiences of the repression of imagination in education. Joe was expelled from play school for refusing to do anything other than play though he reasoned: “why do they call it PLAY school, then?” While Max, at the age of eight, was heartbroken to be told by a teacher that he would never grow up to be a monkey.

Max and Joe have worked on a lot of projects with young people and feel it's vitally important for children to be allowed to explore their imagination, they feel is often neglected in an increasingly “targets and testing-obsessed” education system.

The directors said: “This [film] actually explores an issue we feel quite serious about, but we wanted to make a film that was really good fun - to have made something gritty and sombre about this subject would have just shown how successfully education had managed to squeeze the tomfoolery out of us and we couldn't have that, could we?”

There were major hurdles along the way. “Some people were looking at the miniscule budget and then at our script with pirates, a galleon, a song and dance number and a world that floods and saying 'Look, guys, you just aren't going to be able to do this'. But we're the kind of people that really hate being told what we can't do and this just made us want to do it even more.”

Casting the pirate extras was an interesting experience, as the directors admitted: “Basically we made a list of people we knew who looked really weird or messed up and asked them if they'd like to be pirates. The problem was they kept asking 'Why did you think of me'? In the end we just told them 'because you look messed-up' and they seemed strangely happy with that - maybe that's Pirate Pride.”

Also on the shorts programme is Heaven, a dark tale about how a supermodel battles to maintain her image. It was directed by Cambridge-based Sarah Gibson who recently completed her MA in scriptwriting at the UEA.

For details of the full festival line-up log on to www.cambridgefilmfestival.org.uk or call the box office on 01223 504444

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