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The inspiration behind Groupie

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At BIAFF 2014 Richard Anthony Dunford won  a Diamond award for Groupie and Stepanie Hazel won the Best Acting award as the lead character.

Still from 'Groupie'. Iíd done a few short films by this time but these were typically focused more on visual story telling with very little dialogue so I thought Iíd go the other way and never being a person to do things half hearted ended up with a ten minute monologue.

Also not being someone after an easy life I wanted to do the whole thing as one continuous take.

I wrote the piece with actress Stephanie Hazel specifically in mind to play the lead character of Ďgroupieí knowing the kind of range she has. Her performance seems very natural, almost as though itís improvised but the whole thing was scripted. Itís not an easy thing to take on but I think she did a great job. Steph has such talent and is truly dedicated to her craft. All she needs is that one lucky break and I think the sky is the limit for her acting career.

Still from 'Groupie'.
Stephanie Hazel as 'Groupie'
Still from 'Groupie'.
Stephanie Hazel between takes

Thereís a lot of drawbacks to shooting in one continuous take. Itís not something you can save in the edit, the actors have to be on their game from start to finish. If thereís something you like in one take and something from another you canít cut between them.

Stephanie and I met up for a couple of rehearsals and would cut the material up into sections to work through and develop. The night of the shoot was the first time we actually did the whole script all together.

We did 3 takes on the night and the one in the film is take number 2. I felt quite early on while filming the take that it had a little magic about it and then spent the next five minutes sweating under the dread that the batteries might run out seconds before the end.

Groupie was shot on a GoPro camera strapped to the actor playing Channingís head (Tom Clear). GoPros arenít really meant for narrative filmmaking but for cycling, snow boarding and extreme sports but it felt like the most authentic way to pull off the POV (point of view) style and I couldnít afford anything too flash.

Sound was recorded on a handheld ZOOM h4n device and we had a couple of softbox lights pointed at the ceiling to bounce some extra light down under the guise of the normal room light. It was filmed in my parentís spare room.

Still from 'Groupie'.
Stephanie and Tom aka Groupie
and Channing Hawk Smith
Still from 'Groupie'.
Carrie Higgs played Peroxide
Still from 'Groupie'.
Richard with Tom wearing headcam
Iíd previously met up with Tom Clear to take some ĎRock star posedí photos which I then mocked up into magazine covers, newspaper front pages and posters for Groupieís shrine of a bedroom wall. At the time I remember mentioning to Steph they were advertising a TV documentary for these obsessed Ďone directioní fans and it might be useful for inspiration. If anything the real life fans are crazier than the one I made up.

Making Groupie inspired my next project which is also done in the POV style and is a no budget horror feature called POV which weíre hoping to get finished in the next few months. In retrospect Groupie turned out to be a bit of a trial run for filming in this format.

Iím really proud of Groupie. It has had a nice reaction from people thus far and hopefully others will like it too.

Richard Anthony Dunford
March 2014

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