In 1994, my Dad got ill. He contracted encephalitis - a virus - that got into his brain and caused a brain injury. My Dad changed.
He didn’t die, but in a way he did.
My Dad was great. He was a joker, a musician, a dad who took an interest. But like every dad he could be stressed, annoying, seriously embarrassing. He once ate a whole box of Cadbury’s mini rolls in one sitting. He once took my brothers and me out onto the school field to fly a kite, but hogged it the whole time. He used to bring us back packets of Revels and peanuts from ‘the offie’ on a Friday night. He was a whole person – with strengths, weaknesses, and stuff that made him ‘him’.
It’s 2018 now, and even though the doctors never thought he’d come out of a ‘permanent vegetative state’, he did. He made an incredible physical recovery, it’s just the mental side that’s lacking. He has no short-term memory. No emotional connection. No real interest outside of his daily routine of scheduling fag times. He’s alive, but, is he really living? He’s certainly not living the life he would have had none of this ever happened.
He’s my Dad, but not really.
Nearly 25 years later, nothing has changed and I’m still going on about it.
In a way, I’m stuck. He’s stuck... in this limbo of not being able to let go.
I guess that’s where the heart of my script, Car Keys, comes from.
Would you notice our main character, Keith, if he walked down the street? If he sat on a park bench eating his lunch? If he parked his car next to yours in the office car park?
Keith has spent so many years caring for his mum, he barely notices himself anymore. He’s got his routine, he’s got his coping mechanism, and he’s just getting by. But Keith isn’t living. And neither is Margaret, his bed-ridden mum.
We hope that Car Keys will highlight the isolation that people caring for others can often feel. When all focus is on the person needing care, it can be easy for the caregiver to fall outside of the frame.
According to the Carers Trust, there are approximately seven million carers in the UK – that’s roughly one in ten people. Having worked as a carer myself, and having been a carer to my Dad, and having seen my mum care for my Dad, I understand how easy it is to start forgetting that you matter. Keith has forgotten he matters – he’s a shadow: unseen at work, unseen at home.
But we all deserve love, care, and attention. We all deserve to live our lives. And when we’re forced to step outside of our situation, often possibilities and new life can creep in.
Car Keys is about letting yourself be vulnerable, letting yourself lose control, and accepting the help of others. It is about stepping out of the shadows, and waking up. Car Keys is about hope in even the bleakest everyday scenario.
Car Keys will be made by director, David Anderson (trained at London Film School, mentored by Ken Loach, creator of the LFS outreach department), producer, Clair Robinson (17 years’ experience as Executive Producer, Producer, Line Producer, Production Manager, Script Editor and Script Writer. She is a twice Children's BAFTA nominee), and writer, Amy Rich (trained at Goldsmiths, University of London and Screen Academy Scotland, gold prize winner at the Page International Screenwriting Awards).
We have some wonderful local actors lined up to play the main roles, and are currently casting supporting roles. Keith will be played by Robert Daws (Poldark, Sicknote, The Royal) and Kim will be played by Linda Armstrong (Coronation Street, The Royal, Doctors).
We believe passionately in this project and know that it is a story that deserves to be told, and is relevant to contemporary Britain. Please support us if you can.
We aim to shoot over a three-day period, in Ampthill and Flitwick, Bedfordshire. We will be using the majority of the budget on production costs such as hiring equipment, crew, and covering expenses. On completion, we will submit Car Keys to film festivals.
We believe that Car Keys is a really important film. Making this is a collaboration, and crowdfunding allows everybody to contribute. It's not easy to raise funding for short films - and we have tried. We truly believe in this project and the impact it could make, so please, if you can, join us, and help us create something beautiful, moving, and above all hopeful.
Whether you're able to give £5 or £500, we will use your money to create a film that matters. If you're not able to give, please help us spread the word by sharing this on social media and telling your friends and family. This is going to be a very special project and we'd love you to be a part of it. Thank you.
(Hands image credit - Timothy K Hamilton https://flic.kr/p/3cAmr9)