Directed by Jaap Mees. UK. 2003. 10 minutes.
Free Spirits Film Productions and ST&T Publishing.

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The Primrose Place is based on an original story by H.E. Bates. It features a woman working in an orchard when a tired and agitated stranger appears clutching a mysterious box. He is searching for “that Primrose Place” but we do not discover why until the end of this short film.

This is a co-production between long-time supporters of our Talking Pictures website - Jaap Mees and Alan Thompson. They wanted to shoot something quick and simple to gain more experience of digital shooting and editing. Another reason beyond the practicalities was that they thought this is an exceptional story, simply told with a beginning, middle and end written in a subtle and human way. Indeed Jaap tells me that he tried to make this short film ten years ago.

The music by Laura Rossi is well chosen and works really well with the narrative. The framing, composition and editing of the film clearly shows Jaap’s experience with shooting documentaries. Some directors might well have been tempted to add some symbolic images into the story (the encounter between a man and a woman in an orchard suggests the story of Adam and Eve) or they might have used ‘flashy’ camerawork or editing. Here they restrain themselves to a few moving titles in the opening and closing credit sequences, and it is all the better for it’s direct approach.

The man (Justin McCarron) and the woman (Giovanna Villa) do a creditable job with their scenes but they seem like they are characters in a dream rather than flesh-and-blood people. Whether or not this is deliberate this does give an additional ambiance of mystery to the story.

A flaw with the story is the rapidity with which the woman gives the man a glass of water and an aspirin when he falls over. Where does she conjure up these things in the middle of an orchard? Jaap tells me that he used a pan here to suggest that time had passed between the man falling and the administration of the drink. Nonetheless I think it would have been better if she offered him a cup of tea from a flask.

Overall this short film shows what can be achieved with the use of a DV camera, Final Cut Pro editing software (operated by editor Simon Boyd), a couple of actors and a weekend in the countryside.

Nigel Watson
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