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The making of Dropping Off

This film is part of the UK official entry for UNICA 2003

Dropping Off was one of those ideas which had been slowly forming in my mind for quite some time.

Originally it was going to be a serious film looking at one man's life, destiny and the purpose of his existence. All very heavy stuff! I even thought about bringing "God" into it at one point.

The idea was partly "written" in my head for a long time, when the North Vs South competition announced that their theme for 2001 would be "Water". THIS, I decided would be the angle for my new film. One man, suicidal and depressed, would be contemplating jumping into the river from a bridge, when a passer-by would talk him out of it.

Keith Pottage and Paul Crossley would be my ideal cast. Keith has a very hang-dog expression and Paul can be very bright and breezy- the eternal optimist.

It became clear at this stage that it was evolving into a black comedy. The dialogue would be based around the fact that the man on the bridge couldn't swim and in the script I was going to refer to the film "Butch Cassidy...." when Paul Newman and Robert Redford are discussing jumping into the river from a cliff. Redford says he can't swim, but Paul Newman tells him it doesn't matter because the fall will probably kill him anyway! The passer-by would be a film fan and would go off on a tangent talking about his favourite movies.

This all changed when during 2001, we made 4 films and didn't get around to making the film, which at this point was called: Taking the Plunge. However, I couldn't let the idea go to waste.I decided that the film would be one of the first to be made in 2002. It so happened that our NERIAC competition theme for that year was: "The end is in sight." I knew our film would fit this theme perfectly.

I sought out locations for some time, driving around Yorkshire. A bridge over a river with a road nearby to drive the car on (an essential plot point) couldn't be found, so the script was changed to make it a railway bridge. The title was then changed to Dropping Off as "Plunge" didn't fit quite so well anymore.

A shooting date in May 2002 was arranged and as "luck" would have it, it was gloomy, overcast and raining for most of the day. We spent 5 hours that Saturday in drizzly rain shooting the film at Denby Dale station just south of Wakefield. It was a long tiring day, but I knew that the film was "in the can".

Exposure and focus had been a problem due to poor light, but mostly it turned out well at the editing stage and Premier was used to tweak the lighting in places.

The film has turned out to be one of our most successful to date and we were delighted it received a Gold Seal at Norwich for Movie 2003.

It was the icing on the cake when Reg Lancaster rang to tell me it was one of the UK entries for UNICA.

- Ken Wilson    July 2003

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