Kenneth is the first to answer: “It may sound ridiculous but it was literally born in Paradise. Anthony and I were in the Seychelles to shoot an appeal for our forthcoming feature film “The Cuckoo Man of Leicester Square” which is set in London and equitorial Africa.” “Yes…” Anthony confirms “And we were so struck by the beauty of the place that it actually inspired us to create a story about a man who is lost in paradise, but also more importantly is lost from himself. The thing about the Seychelles is that it has this mysterious beauty, and it somehow evokes all sorts of ideas…” Kenneth adds: “I mean as you may know, the Seychelles were created by the destruction of the Lost Continent of Gondwanaland, sounds strange I know but true, and it sort of adds this layer of mystery …much of the flora and fauna doesn’t appear anywhere else on the planet.” “OK. So this beautiful backdrop of the Seychelles inspired you. But what in a nutshell is the story about?” I ask. “Well I suppose it stems back to the story of Creation.” Kenneth answers. “It’s funny you say in a “nutshell” …all life comes from some sort of egg or seed, and as you may know, the Seychelles is home to the largest seed in the World, the Coco de Mer….” Anthony sheds further light: “That’s right we had the idea that it would be interesting to have one that could actually speak and be very wise. Given the remote feeling of the islands we were on it inspired us to create a character called "Giles" who is washed up on a deserted island where he finds one of these seeds which talks to him and imparts this wisdom to him. He's been hiding from himself , but suddenly alone with this weird talking Coco de Mer he can't hide anymore."
" Yes, he's thrown from this hectic world that unfortunately most of us know into this surreal setting where he's forced to confront things. And the story grew from that …” Kenneth comments before widening my knowledge of the Coco de Mer’s improbable, fantastical origins: “17th century Pirates and Sailors used to fall in love with them. There’s all sorts of amazing legends about them on the islands. In fact, there’s quite an enchanting tale that if you go into the Valee de Mai in the dead of night, when the moon is full, (this is the place, which was described as the original Garden of Eden, and is where the Coco de Mer only grows today) and you happen to see the male and female coco de mers making love, you will turn into a Black Parrott and spend the rest of your life living in the jungle…” “I see, you were inspired by a combination of things, this unusual folklore, together with the remote beauty of the place and this rather eccentric seed , the Coco de Mer…” I summarise. Kenneth and Anthony nod in agreement. “So what was it like shooting in the Seychelles?” “It was a huge challenge really…” Kenneth responds “because we hadn’t originally conceived that we would in fact be shooting any narrative drama there, and had very limited lenses and equipment with us. I mean we had no lighting equipment what-so-ever not even a reflector or flag. The equipment was obviously suitable for the appeal, but certainly not for shooting part of a fantasy drama ."
In quaero veri et excellentiam
since MCMXCVIII Title.
by Suzanne Hamilton
I first heard about newly formed independent film production company, Hungry Lion, one rainy afternoon in June. Co-producer Kenneth W.Caravan, called me keen to share his progress on the company's debut short film, a short fantasy drama intriguingly entitled “Seed of Desire.” When I heard that he, and co-producer Anthony Maddalena, had just returned from shooting part of the pilot- promo in the sunny island paradise of the Seychelles I couldn’t help feeling somewhat envious!
On viewing the pilot I found myself intrigued further still. The lush island backdrop combined with the compelling use of narrative symbolism, had me keen to find out more. I was, therefore, pleased when the producers invited me down to their production office just south of lively (if not so sunny) Brixton.
I am greeted warmly by co-producer Anthony who leads me through to meet Kenneth. Given their ambitious production slate I am not at all surprised to find Kenneth making alterations to what he tells me is the fourth draft of "The Cuckoo Man of Leicester Square" screenplay (slated to be the company's first feature film). They guide me into a spacious drawing room, richly decorated with an unusual array of art and carvings spread out across the walls. I ask them where they found their inspiration for “Seed of Desire.”
HUNGRY LION FILM COMPANY LIMITED
Spoilt for beautiful locations, the producers chose stunning Anse Source d' Argent on La Digue for Giles to be washed ashore.
(Above left a Seychelles Black Parrot and above right) Phalic beyond belief the male and female Coco de mer. Could the old folk lore tale Kenneth told me be true? Below Production still - SEED OF DESIRE (Pilot Shoot)
I understand it was just the two of you out there, is that right?” Kenneth nods. "So will you be sticking with the part of "Giles" for the main shoot?” I ask. Kenneth explains: “ Yes. The story also involves a couple called Jeremy and Meiling who are close friends of Giles, and who are having issues conceiving a child. Although they are well suited they are quite different in many ways. Meiling is a calm, balanced and super-efficient, whereas Jeremy is quite mischievous and has a devil-may-care attitude to life.
Finding an actress to play Meiling was quite a challenge, as we specifically wrote her as a Singaporean character. However all our wishes were granted when we discovered ultra-versatile Singaporean actress Rebecca Yeo, who brings a great sense of presence to the role.” “Yes absolutely” Anthony chips in “and we also benefit from the voice of Australian actress Zara Symes as “Emma” (Giles’s girlfriend) who dumps Giles unceremoniously over the telephone at the would-be surprise engagement party Jeremy and Meiling are hosting for them. We wanted “Emma “ to sound as sympathetic as possible despite the nature of the dumping, and Zara who has such an extraordinary emotional range brought a remarkable sensitivity to her part. It’s easy to see why she’s a firm favourite on the indie circuit, having recently appeared as the lead in the chilling thriller “Silent Lake.” By a twist of coincidence she also appeared with another of our actresses, Pauline Cousty, in the same film namely “Art Ache.”
Pauline Cousty by the way, plays the part of “Nicole” Giles’s quirky unlucky-in-love French secretary. Haling from Bordeaux we are pleased to report she had no problems at all with the accent! We discovered her in some very emotionally intense Anglo-French films she appeared in and were instantly blown away! So you see we really are blessed with a very diverse, international cast, and that includes talented newcomer, Claudia Knight, who provides the alluring, hypnotic voice of the mysterious “Seed of Desire.” With a decidedly fruity RP English voice, Claudia boasts mixed Jamaican-Barbadian heritage.”
“But how did you manage on the Seychelles leg of the shoot?” I press on. “We knew that we would have to be organised to make it work, so we drafted the script, and blocked the shots. Fortunately we remembered some suitable locations on the island of Praslin. We then spent a couple of days on bicycles peddling around the island of La Digue looking for more evocative settings for the action. I set up the shots, and we both alternated operating the camera. I never went to Film School per se, but I learnt a lot from working on films particularly when doubling, as you work so very closely with the camera crew. I guess I was a bit of a sponge absorbing everything that was going on around me!" “So how exactly are you funding “Seed of Desire?” I enquire. “ Well we funded the pilot from our own pockets but we are currently exploring a number of channels to fund the main shoot.” Kenneth answers. So where do they plan to market their colourful fable? "As it’s a short film " Kenneth tells me "we’d like to showcase it at the main international festivals such as Sundance, Cannes and Venice etc…From a commercial standpoint it could do well as a one-off TV drama…so we will probably take it to the international Television Markets like MIP etc."
I find myself succumbing to Kenneth and Anthony’s infectuous enthusiasm and utter conviction for their work! With such an ambitious production slate one thing’s for certain, they clearly have their work cut out…Now they have captured my interest, I resolve to keep them firmly on my radar and should they choose to invite me back , I shall gladly return to report on what will no doubt prove to be the next fascinating chapter in the life of the Hungry Lion!