Friday, 8 January 2010

Notes on 'The Plumber'

(by Rishi Thaker, Director of Stickmen Pictures)

In the aftermath of what felt an exhausting but well executed music videoA tricky situation (with zero budget and bags of positive attitude) we at Stickmen Pictures were hatching our summer proposal. It turned out to be a piece called The Plumber.

Dan had, for the past couple of years, drummed away at my consiousness in regard to the idea of creating a movie version of an interactive book. These being the kind where you as the reader hit a point in the story and have to make a series of choices that determines your own personal storyline.

It wasn’t until recently that Dan had actually found a way to edit a film version of this book spectacle and stick it on our website at

After much discussion Dan began writing what would become the first pages of the Interactive Film, The Plumber. He showed me what he had done, and in effect sold the idea to me. We subsequently developed the rest of the script and logistics being really efficient with our pre-production in order to meet the tight deadline we had set ourselves. This was after all a summer flirtation and we wanted to play with something different in the winter months!

After much phone calling and group meetings we settled upon a small team who would best help us achieve our goal of carrying out this ground breaking film-making whilst adhering to our deadlines. This was also further complicated by the fact that an ordinarily two and a half day shoot was crammed into one, due to unforeseen circumstances (something we always encounter).

I will name and credit the cast and crew individually as their efforts cannot be justified by a big group ‘well done’ so to speak.


Steve Kirk (Kirky), played the lead of the Plumber. Kirky has never acted before and was tasked with carrying this interactive film first time out. Not easy by any stretch. However, I was pleasantly surprised by Kirky’s massive effort in keeping focused and his ability to act. As mentioned earlier Kirky has no experience of acting, but this was masked by a great desire and determination to get the job done to the best of his ability. It was a long day due to the volume we had to shoot but Kirky remained disciplined and I swear you’ll never see anyone getting tasered better than this man. He is the Plummer.

Lucy Redfern (soon to be Lucy Kirk – I’m not kidding). Lucy (Kirky’s better half) is also a first time performer on this piece. Lucy had arguably the most intimidating of roles toSteve and Lucy perform, given that she hadn’t previously acted, that she was the youngest on the set, and that her character shows the most desperation as well as wears the least amount of clothing! Once again, a huge task for Lucy but one she performed with an exemplary attitude. Her attention to detail when it came to her own costume was great to see (and I really don’t mean that in a perverted sense). What she lacked in her acting experience she more than made up with her energy, enthusiasm and discipline. A thoroughly great effort and there is great potential for Lucy’s acting ability should working on this film not have scared her to do it again! I hope she does.

Cash Flagg Jr. This man is better known for his work behind the camera, however after this performance I’m sure there will be much interest to get him in the spot light more often. This show stealing performance he gave as the wife-beating husband will definitely go down in my personal bank of comedy folklore, and that’s no exaggeration. As Dan will testify, I usually laugh a lot during this phase of the film-making process, but I can’t remember many times when I have laughed more than on editing Cash Flagg’s scenes . A hugely creative effort, with much of the character coming straight from his head as opposed to the script, and some slide splitting ad-libbing. A joy to watch and be a part of.

Joe Atom, as the Pervert. If I wanted to I could probably write Joe Atom as The Pervertfor a lifetime of the many talents of Joe Atom when it comes to performing arts or indeed music (his number one passion). It’s this that has led me to believe Joe wasn’t actually acting when he graced us with his ‘heart-rendering’ cameo. He was, in fact, just being himself. There is simply no other way to put it, otherwise I’d have to call him a genius. A cameo to rival the great cameos in cinema history – this is one choice you will want to hit upon. Good luck.


Daniel Tee, Producer/Writer/Cameraman/Editor – Our one man band. I won’t say too much about Dan, as he is a partner in Stickmen Pictures and his role goes was beyond his efforts on this piece. He was as ever, ready and willing to go at pace and with quality. His passion for film-making is as unwavering since the day we formed Stickmen Pictures.

Amika Surani, Assistant Director – This was a difficult role to perform as it was probably the most boring yet without it, the film would not have been made. Amika, ever the extrovert, in my opinion is made to be in front of the camera so that her charms can entice the viewer into the world that is presented (as she did on Sparks). However she has put in much devotion to perform the less glamorous work behind the camera to make sure the production went as well as it could. Her personality also kept the day lively the spirits up. A highlight for Amika would be her debut, as Director, for one shot as the actual Director showed a complete lack of professionalism at that time, because he couldn’t stop laughing. Amika stepped in and got the shot done after promptly ridding the set of disgraceful Director.

Laurence Caulton, Sound Man - A solid performance as ever by our Israelite. His efficiency and discipline (something out of normal character) in capturing sound has madeOne of the many storylines of 'The Plumber' Loz, a Stickmen Pictures regular. Never a problem and always helpful, Loz has demonstrated the kind of characteristics that will raise the bar within what Stickmen Pictures operates. He has done all this as well as retain his sense of fun on set. I know he loves it when Stickmen Pictures rolls in to do another film and long may that continue.


All in all a successful spot of film-making. A great effort by everyone involved and I know it will provide much enjoyment to those that view and play ‘The Plumber’. Let’s hope word gets around as I believe this will be yet another great platform to plead our case for funding on our next project.

See you soon,

Rishi Thaker

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

'The Plumber': A Geek's Perspective

(by Daniel Tee of Stickmen Pictures)

A World's first, our interactive film The Plumber is finally online and available to watch. We came up with the idea for an interactive live-action film about a year ago and it's been a long road to making it happen. There's really nothing out there like it, so we've had to think outside the box.

The logistics of filming a project with multiple storylines were initially hard to get our heads around. As the editor for the project, I knew we needed a clear plan to help me visualise how to film the shots so that they could be put together in a logical and coherent way. The most important thing for any film, interactive or not, is that the viewer enjoys what they see and hear.

Rishi and I wanted to create a piece to challenge and enthrall an audience while at the same time sporting the innocence of any good British sex comedy like the Carry On films. We came up with a basic story and then went back to find alternatives for every decision that could be made by the main character. Our basic philosophy was that we'd try to include everything we came up with, however insane, and then go back and get rid of anything we thought wasn't funny or entertaining enough.

Filming with Steve and Lucy was a real pleasure. Their first read through was amazing and their performances were even more entertaining when the camera was rolling. As their acting experience was limited, their work was all the more impressive.

Cash Flagg Jr spent most of his time in his trailer. Some say he trained to be an actor by doing somersaults underwater and shouting at llamas in Peru. I'm inclined to believe them. His portrayal of the jealous husband had me in stiches. As the cameraman, being so close to the action, I had to stop myself laughing a lot of the time. This was even more of an issue when Joe Atom was also on set as the Pervert. The kitchen scene caused the director himself to leave the set due to fit of laughter. The assistant director Asch stepped in to direct the shot, finding it equally hard to keep a straight face. We should have canned all the laughter on set to sell to a sit com!

Laurence recorded the sound with his usual dedication. His confidence has increased over the time I've worked with him and I trust his judgement when it comes to all matters sound related. Many sound recordists would stress out when faced with lawn mowers and plane noise during a shoot, but capturing sound in even the most challenging of locations is something he takes in his stride. He always has a smile on his face and this shoot definitely was no exception.

Putting all the footage together and adding the special effects was fun for the most part. Rishi's judgement on the initial visual edit is something I value highly. He has an amazing eye for detail and can spot things that I miss, which makes the whole process a lot more efficient. Adding special effects takes time because rendering files makes the processor work pretty hard, especially when a computer needs upgrading as much as mine does. Egg timers... Argh!

We ended up with 34 choices, 14 pitfalls and 3 unique endings, which I believe creates a real sense of interactivity for viewers. Testing the film was easy; Rishi and I tried playing it ourselves to see if we enjoyed it, then changed anything we thought was rubbish.

In conclusion, all the hard work and effort was worth it. Creating something new for the cast, crew and audience who have shown us such support is worth every hour of donkey work to make it happen. We have a 100% success rate at completing projects we work on, so may it continue. Rishi's dedication and hard work makes the whole process enjoyable and rewarding. Bring on the next project!

View The Plumber here: