The idea for this film had been in my mind before my previous short, The Voice. I was pleased to take full control as the writer again as this creates my best work. Scripts evolve with its draft numbers; the original working title was Safe Haven, meaning to find a ‘happy place’ and the idea was always around spirituality. One of the original themes was yoga, and then law of attraction. But I eventually chose Christianity which meant the title changing from Safe Haven, to Haven, to Heaven and finally Paradis.
The other theme I wanted to include was sex addiction. As The Voice was a horror, I wanted to return to comedy being a genre I was proud of with Set Point and also I like writing. From the off, Paradis was going to be an erotic comedy.
With each new project I want explore new things in order to grow my craft, and with Paradis I was attempting subtitles, a song sequence and a church scene. I refer back to Set Point (as it is my favourite film from my catalogue) and I wanted to make Paradis an adult film with an adult cast. I work with teenage scripts often, but with Paradis I was to work with people my senior.
So subtitles: initially Paradis was going to be in Italian (based on the films location which I will get too shortly), but this changed because I felt more comfortable with French because I love French films, their cinema and their whole way of life. Plus Paris is my favourite city in the world. Referring back to Set Point again where one of the leads was French, I wanted to revisit this. I had to keep the dialogue true to the culture and hired a translator to translate the necessary parts as 50% of the script is in English and the other 50% is in French.
Moving onto locations (which can be a difficult through preproduction), I knew from the very beginning this film was to be a featurette (long short film between 30-60mins), so the shooting schedule was going to be at least five days. I visited the area Little Venice in Warwick Avenue in West London and I knew this is where I wanted to shoot. The area had a foreign nature about it; the buildings seem similar to other foreign countries, plus Little Venice is in Italy (which is where the Italian idea came from). But I based the film around France and kept the area anyway.
Warwick Avenue catered for one day of filming (all exterior). A local resident allowed us to use the front of his house and we asked local businesses permission for their shop front to be on camera, and most were willing to help. All the while we kept within the councils shooting laws. I really wanted to capture the beauty of the area (because it is a beautiful place) with exquisite exterior shots.
The other locations were two houses (one of which was my own) a pub and a church. By far the church was the hardest location to secure. The slightly crude script didn’t help and practically got me thrown out of one church when a representative read it. It was only until the week before shooting I secured a place! They were really co-operative and in turn saved me hiring a general hall therefore cheapening the film.
When it came to rounding up the crew, I knew I wanted to work with new people as I felt I needed to regenerate my team. I also learnt how to work with a Producer (Oliver Woodward) for the first time. I definitely wouldn’t have made it through pre production if it weren’t for Oliver and Lisa (1st Assistant Director).
The cast was new territory because I had to find actors whom were French or could perform French dialogue. It took ALOT of adverts and auditions to say the very least and we lost team members along the way. This also went for the English speaking characters too. ‘Priest’ was the most challenging to cast, by rights this film was by far was the hardest to get through pre production. A good thing to come from the ups and downs though was working with the male lead from Set Point, the fantastic and ultimate professional Alexander Devrient.
At the late stages of pre production, the final working title was Heaven and I changed it to Paradis (Heaven in French) and was to be the confirmed title.