Today's guest blogger, Kenton Hall is no stranger to juggling work - switching regularly between actor, writer, filmmaker and musician. But how did he get on mixing the roles of director and dad...?
When the Weekend Collective asked me to write about the making of "A Dozen Summers" I was thrilled. Then I was a bit sleepy. Then hungry for a bit. Then I had a nap and some vegetarian sausages and went back to being thrilled again.
This movie - made in Leicester - was a labour of love. Which is probably for the best, as labours of ambivalence only tend to lead to further Transformers sequels and nobody wants that.
So, for those of you who don't know, "A Dozen Summers" is a micro-budget indie family comedy about two 12-year-olds (played by my daughters Scarlet Hall and Hero Hall) who hijack a traditional children's film and decide to tell their own story instead.
It was written because I had become aware - for the second time - how difficult it is to be 12. Not yet an adult, no longer a child - with little control over your own life and with no one taking you terribly seriously.
And, yet, my daughters and their friends were clever, funny, strange, opinionated, bewildered by the adult world and full of ideas on how it could be fixed, sharpish.
They deserved to tell their own story.
My role was to try and understand that story well enough to put it on-screen. Without much in the way of resources, other than the time, talent and support of dozens of extremely talented, generous people and organisations, of course.
The experience has exceeded all of my expectations - just from the proximity to so many amazing people. And now it's coming out on DVD (which, apparently, is like a VHS tape, but flat and shiny) and we want as many people as possible to see it.
Also, to buy it, because bills.
TWC, in their wisdom, have give me a few questions to answer. I, in my lack of wisdom, have chosen to answer them below.
Is working with children really that difficult?
They say "never work with children and animals". But, to be fair, grown actors are far more idiosyncratic than either group, so I'm not sure why they get singled out. Children just need looking after on a set, both protecting but also inspiring them to do what they still remember how to do and we, as so-called "grown-ups", have forgotten - which is to play.
When young people are enthusiastic about something, it's a joy to be around. I think, in all honesty, we avoid working with children because they can remind us how jaded we have become and how tired we look before our 17th cup of coffee. So, no is my answer. It's a lot of responsibility, but it's a treat.
Did you know you wanted the twins to be part of it from the start?
It was based on them, and their friends obviously, but I didn't know if a) they wanted to, b) they were ready for it and c) whether it would too much pressure to ask them to carry a film. So, they auditioned. They read with other children.
It became clear that this could be something we did together, that it would add something to the movie and that they weren't about to give up the roles to anyone else willingly. And I'm a father, I know when I'm beaten.
How much are their characters in the film based on their real personalities, and your real relationship with them?
There's a lot of them in there, sometimes direct quotes, but I also wanted to give them something to play. Ironically, perhaps by playing the characters, there is much more delineation between Maisie and Daisy, and Scarlet and Hero now, then there was when we started. But all the good bits comes from them.
Henry, my character, is the father I'd like to be. I'd never claim it's the father I always manage to be. In fact, Jacqueline, Sarah Warren's character, is much more drawn from my feelings about myself - trying hard, but easily distracted by shiny things and not always knowing what to do for the best. So much so, that Sarah, consummate pro that she is, started nicking my tics and mannerisms and working them into her performance. So, that's me. But Henry - I'll keep trying to be Henry.
How did you find switching between being writer, director, actor and father? Is it difficult to be objective?
In reality, the objectivity I faced was knowing that if the film ended up as something that might embarrass them, or hurt them, or wasn't something of which they were proud - that the Dad side of me, my dominant side, would steal the files and dump them in a lake. The director side of me knew this and kept his fingers tightly crossed. Thankfully, it just brought us closer and we got to go to work together for a while. And they won a Best Actress Award (jointly, thank goodness, for the sake of sibling harmony) at a festival in Spain, for their FIRST film - so mostly I just had to balance intense pride and professional envy.
What ambitions do the twins have? Are you hoping filmmaking will become a regular family pastime?
Scarlet really wants to continue performing. Hero, I think, is gravitating towards the other side of the camera. She wants be in charge of the whole story. I'm all for that, as she can employ me when my career hits the skids. She'd better, anyway. Someone who has thrown up on you as often as one's offspring... they owe you a gig. But then they also both want careers in caring professions: doctors, social workers. Hard not to be even more proud of that. I'll support them in whatever they are passionate about, because, a) that's the job and b) they've always done the same for me. Plus, I want to go to a GOOD home when I'm old.
We talk about doing something else together. I think I probably have to make at least one without them, to prove I'm not riding on their coattails, but we do have an idea for something very different we can do together in the future.
Watch this space.
A Dozen Summers is released on DVD in the UK (from Ballpark Film Distributors and Screenbound Pictures), US and Canada (from Stacks Entertainment) on August 15th, 2016