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The making of Dirty Style Blues

The Daily Mail Challenge Trophy.
The Daily Mail Trophy
Terry Tkachuk & John W. James

The group who made this year's best amateur movie call themselves Partners, after the title of their 2001 Gold Seal winning movie. The principal partners are John W. James, Terry Tkachuk, Neville Withers and Karen Cherrington. Tony Plumridge handled the directing chores. Others get involved and they call on the help of Ealing Video & Film Makers through Tony Keywood.

Talking briefly after they received the Daily Mail Challenge Trophy for best film, an International Medallion, the IAC Cup for best story and the Le Hedan Trophy on behalf of Claire Louise Garrigan for acting, John and Terry were enthusiastic about the way the film had been received. Claire Louise Garrigan in 'Dirty Style Blues'.
Claire Louise Garrigan
The title:

"We took it from Jean Dubuffet's (1901-1985) painting Dirty Style Blues. What a painting. What a title."

On a musician as main character:

"I know a lot of friends who are in to jazz and I like jazz music as well - I wanted to capture something that music can deliver yet words can't. So it is a bit of a challenge to get the ideas of music across through a character's persona. Fortunately our main actor, Joseph Ansted, is also quite a good guitarist so not only did it look good that he could play the instrument , but he could understand what was meant by jazz."


Terry Tkachuk with the IAC Trophy for Best Story.
Terry Tkachuk with the IAC Trophy for Best Story.

"It is all planned. Though it was a low budget film - £2,000 - I wanted to make sure that we had high production values. That meant studying where we should put the camera in every frame, where the lights should be, whose point of view we were trying to get across and where we needed movement of camera and actors, sometimes together. Everything was planned. We had four or five days of intensive rehearsal - spread out over a period of time - so we knew where we were going. We had a rehearsal room so we could block scenes out. John and I had recce'd all the places we were shooting so we knew exactly where everything was. The actors felt very comfortable with that."


"The actors enjoyed rehearsals because they could make contributions too. Sometimes I had to say: 'Well we'll do two takes and see which we end up with after the edit ...' The catch is that actors may lose sight of the overall story. They see their own character's role within the story. Fortunately having written the script I knew what the overall objective was. So we could work with the actors and shape what they had to do in each scene. But really I'm of the opinion that good actors more or less direct themselves. They just need a bit of bonding and general guidance. The main thing is to help them get into the story as quickly as possible.

"They are semi-professional actors. Claire does a lot of rep and a little fringe and with Questors at Ealing. That's how she makes her living, but it's a modest approach. Robin Ingram - our main baddy - has a daytime job. He's done lots of stuff for film before. The other main actor who played Max also does very small bits for Channel Four. The main actors have worked together before in previous projects so they know each other well.

Terry has a fascinating website devoted to Partners and Dirty Style Blues which tells how they were made and has a wealth of pictures.  From it come these potted biographies:

John James started in the days of standard-8 film but now embraces the latest digital technology. His chief interests are videography and editing. John's work has won awards from Canada, USA, Melbourne and Japan.

Karen Cherrington looks after a portfolio of business interests in retail banking. Away from the office Karen looks after continuity and administration on behalf of the Partners team.

Neville Withers recently retired, Neville comes to film making with twenty five years experience at the BBC's Film Department. Neville is a member of the local film making group and has worked with the Partners team on numerous projects.

Terry Tkachuk - after gaining an M.A at Brunel University, Terry now works as a Transmission Controller in television. He has won two Silver and two Gold awards for his recent documentaries whilst his last drama was awarded an International (Daily Mail) Award for best story and best film category. A number of recent proposals have been short listed by Meridian, Channel Four and the BBC.

John W. James holds the Daily Mail Challenge Trophy.

John W. James holds the Daily Mail Challenge Trophy.

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Page updated on 08 October 2011
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