Prominent landmarks across Tunbridge Wells are set to form the backdrop for a new independent film being shot in the town over the coming month.
Three Acts is a black comedy written and directed by local father and son team Mick and Tom Sands through their production company Substantial Films.
Former Skinners’ pupil Tom, 26, is directing much of the £100,000 film – which was written by his father Mick – at his former school, transforming Byng Hall into the set of a previously ‘unknown’ play by 16th-century playwright Christopher Marlowe.
Centred on the plight of the main character Rupert Lindsay, an actor battling with multiple personalities as he tries to land jobs and form a relationship, Three Acts is the third feature film to be produced by the pair.
Filming began on Monday August 22 and is due to be wrapped up by September 20. It will include locations such as The Spa Hotel, the Assembly Hall and Grosvenor and Hilbert Park.
This will be followed by around four months of post-production work before it is released next year.
Tom, who said he has wanted to be a director since he was aged 11, described the feeling of directing at his former school as ‘quite weird’.
“My old Deputy Head came in while we were shooting and was trying to grab the attention of one of the runners and so I had to ask him to leave,” he said.
Living in London, but raised in Tunbridge Wells, Tom was tipped for Oxbridge, but quickly realised filmmaking is not an academic process.
“I went to film school in Brighton but after about two lectures realised it really wasn’t for me so I stopped attending. But I still made sure I borrowed all their equipment.”
Although Tom said he was very pleased to be back in his home town making a film, something he ‘always wanted to do’, it was as much to do with budget as anything else, Mick explained, as Byng Hall was an affordable location for them to shoot the play scenes.
“Raising the £100,000 is the most difficult part of the whole process,” Mick said, adding those who do invest can benefit from certain government schemes but it is seen as a very risky way of making money by most people.
And although by Hollywood standards it is a shoestring budget, it does afford a far greater flexibility to make the film how they see fit.
Tom, who jokingly states he has not had a ‘real job’ since he was 18, having spent the last eight years behind the camera, said his experience with larger budget projects was that they were far more restrictive.
“They get compromised at every stage by those who fund them and can be cut completely differently from what you wanted.”
Nonetheless, the budget is still tight and the predominantly young cast and crew members involved are doing it for the love of film, not for excessive salaries, with Mick admitting he can only pay most of them the ‘bare minimum’ to make it viable.
The concept for the story came about from Mick’s fascination with psychology and through his friendship with psychotherapist Russell Rose, who has helped to coach starring actor Sandy Batchelor on the realities of Dissociative Identity Disorder.
But the reason why the main character has three personalities – a furiously angry actor, a lascivious womaniser, and a lost, vulnerable man trying to deal with the fallout – is simple, said Mick. “Three personalities is more interesting than two. Jekyll and Hyde doesn’t have much further to go.”