Robert Armitage in Paris

After a hectic few months in which Ashley, Lily and I have managed to switch jobs and (in my case) move country despite the best efforts of the UK’s weather, it’s good to be settled and starting a new string of projects to carry us through 2018 and beyond.

The first is a new short, Robert Armitage is in Town, which Ashley is coming out next month to discuss before we proceed to shooting in July. A vignette that builds on the bar-worlds we learned to create for Red Ribbon | Blue Suit several years ago, Robert Armitage is a bringing-together of two bodies of work we’ve been interested in for a while. The first is the character, who I wanted to bring to the screen in this oblique, mysterious way after first writing about him when I was in China in 2013. Then, Robert Armitage could have been a spy, a drug runner, a petty hood, or a businessman or a diplomat or even just a washed-up American lost in a dive bar in Yangzhou. Now he’s back in my work and still elusive. The mystery works well given the second source of inspiration, which Ashley brought to the table last year – Hopper’s painting Nighthawks, which perfectly captures those bar-dwellers who might be full of stories and conflicts, but who are trying so hard to come across as nothing at all. We are drafting a script in earnest this month; watch this space for news of locations, plotlines and casting calls.

Beyond Robert Armitage, we are excited to be working in London’s Kew Gardens in the early autumn to shoot another project building on a Virginia Woolf short story, after the magic of producing The Beachcomber (inspired by Solid Objects) last year. It seems unbelievable that an entire year has gone past since Lily was standing knee-deep in the freezing Atlantic at sunrise, but it will be wonderful to return to the rich language and intricate visuals that Woolf’s work demands.

Both of these shorts are further stepping stones to help us master the skills we need for a significant project we have slated for the winter and into 2019. At the moment, we can’t say very much about what it involves (other than that it brings Lily, Ashley and I back together and is – by a long way – our most ambitious film yet), but as the year rolls on we’ll have plenty of news to share. Robert Armitage sees us working once again with Super8 film and synchronised dialogue, a new challenge but in the familiar and controllable environment of a quiet bar at night. Our Kew Gardens project will see us develop the same skills, but bringing 16mm film into the frame thereby massively expanding Ashley’s canvas and allowing us to move into one of the industry’s most popular film formats.

On the writing front, expect plenty of news as we all chip in regarding our latest reads, adaptations, reboots of old favourites, and more.