The making of "Rag Doll" Short Film

I started working with Wasp Video back in 2016, and as a writer I found creating story lines without dialogue to be a really interesting way to write for the screen.

When I sat down to write the script for "Rag Doll", my intention was to create a visual story which is told through the cinematography, acting, and score.

The initial inspiration for "Rag Doll" came from Egyptian Mythology, and the story of Isis and Osiris.

Isis was the daughter of the earth god Geb and the sky goddess Nut. She was married to Osiris, the king of Egypt, and as Queen, Isis supported her husband and taught the women of Egypt how to weave, bake, and brew beer. Osiris' brother Seth was jealous, and he hatched a plot to kill his brother, trapping him in a lead coated wooden chest, which he threw into the Nile. With his brother gone, Seth became King of Egypt. Isis searched everywhere for Osiris, until she eventually discovered him, still trapped in the chest. She brought his body back to Egypt, where Seth hacked his brother into pieces, which he scattered along the Nile. Transforming into a bird, Isis was able to discover and reunite the parts of her dead husband’s body. Using her magical powers, she made Osiris whole again; bandaged, neither living nor dead, Osiris had become a mummy. Nine months later Isis bore him a son. Osiris was then forced to retreat to the underworld, where he became king of the dead.

The part of the story that interested me the most, was that of Isis reassembling Osiris' body in order to give him an heir. I had a very clear image of a woman sewing together body parts, (so this could quite easily have fit the horror genre) but, the idea of making Osiris a rag doll developed, over time, from this image.

I decided I wanted the story to be quite fairy-tale influenced, and Grimm's fairytales were my next source of inspiration, given their dark and often grim (pun intended) themes. The script was written as prose in 2017, and I passed it on to Wasp Video, expecting them to find it a bit twee. However, the story sparked the imagination of cinematographer John Corrin and the film went into pre-production towards the end of 2018.

I'd sewn a lot in my teenage years (I definitely didn't have a misspent youth), and had made a traditional rag doll in the past, however making two life sized rag-dolls, one of which needed to be assembled during the shoot, was a bit of a leap of faith. The pattern for the dolls was made by drawing round my teenage kids to get the scale, and the Osiris rag doll fits together using loops and buttons.

Location became the biggest hold up with production, given that we had no budget to hire anywhere, however we eventually found the perfect room in a beautiful house in Lytham.

Director Alan Livesey used my initial Egyption inspiration to inform his direction of the piece, and actors Kerry Carroll and Greg Saxton really used this direction to give an ethereal and regal edge to their performances. Casting actors in zero budget productions can be difficult. Everyone wants to be paid, right? Thankfully as a team we'd worked with Kerry and Greg before, and they graciously gave us their time for free.

The dolls' house in the final scene was bought as a kit, assembled, and painted by me, and I tried to match the stained glass windows with the ones at the location. Devil's in the detail! The young girl in the film, Heidi Ashworth, is a family friend of Director Alan Livesey, and her mum kindly allowed us to shoot the final scene in the girls' bedroom.

We shot the film in two days in May 2019, one in each location, with budget of £100, which covered props, costumes, travel and food.

The score for the film was written and produced by Jason Williams, who again used the Egyptian influence when creating the magical score. Fantastic visual effects by Matthew Hill and dramatic lighting by John Corrin and Phil McMillan added to the ambiance.

The editing process was completed by John Corrin in September 2019 and we had a crew screening in Preston which was very well received. We then sent the film off to film festivals, and it's been screened around the world. Because of Covid, many festivals were postponed, meaning the film couldn't be shared by us until earlier this month, but we're really proud to be able to share this gorgeous piece of cinematic work with everyone now.

Massive thanks to John Corrin, Alan Livesey, Phil McMillan, Kerry Carroll, Matt Hill, Jason Williams and the Ashworth family for everything you did to bring my story to life.

Let me know what you think of our film. I'd love to hear your opinions.

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