Artistic inspiration can come from the strangest places. For director Stephen Reeves, it was the time he nearly got run over by a cement mixer. He was on a drive with his two young children who were insistently asking for drinks. Reeves decided to quickly dash across the road and get some and nearly got run over in the process. On the drive back, he says he couldn’t help but think about what would happen to his two young children strapped in the car seats if he hadn’t made it out of the way in time. Which is basically how Keeping Rosy was born.
Of course one good idea a film does not make, and the next boon fell to producing duo Richard Holmes and Isabelle Georgeaux to raise the budget. So was that process particularly tough? Not according to Richard Holmes. The duo used their talents and previous experience to raise the money and in fact, says Holmes:
“Actually it was disgustingly easy this time”. “It was”, he adds, “very very tight to do what we had to do but also very contained”. As far as the crew is concerned, it has to be said, Keeping Rosy has got more than a bargain for its money, with Oscar winning DOP Roger Pratt and Oscar nominated composer Stephen Warbeck both coming in to work on the project. The next important piece of the puzzle to establish was, of course, the casting.
Holmes explains : “It is an incredibly modest fee for the actors. So the actors we’re looking to get are people who are committed to the script and really see something in the script, especially, obviously, in their role and will commit to what is a tough schedule for a very modest fee because it is something they really want to do.”
There was no doubt that Blake Harrison who plays Roger, the film’s bad guy, was more than excited to be offered the part. At the time, it would seem Blake was getting a little tired of constantly being offered sitcom roles based on his performance in The Inbetweeners and jumped at the chance at doing something different, that he had never been seen doing before.
Harrison explains: “I was like, oh, well this is a brilliant piece, but are they sure they haven’t made a mistake? Maybe they think I’m Ray Winston from 30 years ago or Neil Maskell or something like that, and my agent assured me that no, it was addressed to me. So I read it and I genuinely couldn’t put it down.”
Then came the shooting of course, and this definitely seems like a process everyone really enjoyed. Harrison goes on to say how enjoyable he found the way Reeves worked as he was given a lot of freedom to explore the role and “do his own thing”:
“Usually the camera would just be on a wide and you would be told “Just do it. And if anything goes on just do it, just keep going” And it almost felt like rehearsing a play or performing a play. And that gave it a real energy and made it feel much more natural”.
Even the babies (the two babies who star as Rosy in the film) were on top of their game, as producer Holmes explains;
“We shot for five weeks. And they basically were unhappy for two weeks when they had to be unhappy. They were ill for a week, when they had to be ill. And they were delightful for two weeks when they had to be delightful.”
Of course, with every shoot come difficulties as well as good times. What director Stephen Reeves – and, it would appear, Maxine Peake – found the hardest was to shoot the scenes where Charlotte is alone in the flat because there were “endless shots of her walking down corridors and pressing elevator buttons”. Says Reeves, “But it was all part of the story and we needed to have every single one. Believe me, we tried to take some out.”
Of course one of the most striking features about Keeping Rosy is its gut wrenching finale, [*SPOILER*] when Rosy pitches herself and Roger over the parapet of her balcony rather than let him get his hands on little Rosy. Was this always how the film was going to end? Or were there any alternative endings? The short answer is, not really. Reeves was quite clear in his mind that Charlotte had to die from the beginning – “she did kill her cleaner after all” – and this despite the fact that he was encouraged by several members of the crew to “soften” the ending and have Charlotte and Rosy disappear into the sunset.
But he did make a concession to those who wanted a slightly more positive slant by adding the sequence where Sarah, Charlotte’s sister tells the police Rosy is her daughter. Ambiguous though it is, the aim of the sequence is, according to Reeves, to give the viewer the feeling Rosy will be alright in the end.
Keeping Rosy will be going into a small cinema release through Picturehouse and subsequently moving through the other mediums to television, expecting to be shown on BBC in 2016.