A British spin on the story of two of America's best known bank robbers, Bonnie and Clyde, a pair who captured the imaginations of a nation disillusioned by financial crisis. This is the story of a young couple embroiled in a life of burglary and murder until inevitably their dangerous lifestyle catches up with them.
Music: "You'll Miss Us One Day" & "Nocturne 2"
Written and performed by Ben Lukas Boysen
Published by Erased Tapes Music
Taken from the album "Gravity"
Courtesy of Ad Noiseam
Music: "You'll Miss Us One Day" & "Nocturne 2"
Written and performed by Ben Lukas Boysen
Published by Erased Tapes Music
Taken from the album "Gravity"
Courtesy of Ad Noiseam
by Marcin Prasal & Louis J. Parker
The making of Bonnie & Clyde
"...What happened today was far worse than either of us could have ever predicted. What happened today was catastrophic..."
The Austin Cambridge A60 is a glorious car. Driving along the A10 through Tottenham, one feels like a king among men. Pedestrians stop and stare as you pass, not because they are confused at the sight of you struggling to get into second gear, but because you look simply magnificent. Other vehicles are impatient to pass you, not because of your 43 miles an hour maximum speed, but because they are desperate to catch a glimpse of the hero in the driver's seat. Today was going to be a beautiful day.
And it really was a beautiful day, a brilliant blue ceiling decorated with a golden sun, not a cloud in the sky. Not particularly useful when you're trying to shoot a film outdoors. Furthermore it's the 6th day of October and we are in England. We are therefore all dressed for winter. Last week was winter and next week will be winter. But not today. Oh no. Today shall be the hottest day of the year so far. Beautiful.
Nevertheless we find a spot sheltered by the trees and we begin to set up. As I sit in the car trying to get into costume without exposing myself to passers by and their dogs I hear the sounds of panic coming from the field. I rush to find the cause of this alarm and am met by a pale-faced Louis who is freaking out and taking huge strides across the field with his head in his hands. What could possibly be the matter? He has lost the screw that connects the matte box to the camera. Is it important? YES IT'S ESSENTIAL, he yells, WE CANNOT CONTINUE WITHOUT IT. Shouldn't you have been more careful with it then, I think to myself but decide it would not be so helpful to voice this question. I am used to this scenario at home. Louis is like a puppy who buries all of his possessions in the most unusual of places and then forgets their location. I have become accustomed to this eternal game of hide and seek in which Louis approaches me and declares that such and such a thing is missing and must be gone forever then sits looking forlorn whilst I retrieve said thing. For some reason I thought he might be more careful today. Damn you misplaced trust. We drop to our hands and knees and begin searching for this needle in a haystack. After what feels like a hopeless eternity in which we have scoured a square mile of field, Louis discovers his missing item... directly underneath the camera. Did I mention that Louis is also not very good at finding things?
By the time the calamity has subsided, the clouds arrive and the perfect light shines through on to our scenes. We could ask for no more, except perhaps an extra pair of eyes to monitor Louis at all times.
We wrap up, ahead of schedule, happy, exhausted, buzzing. Just enough time for a glass of wine and a celebratory high five before collapsing into bed.
The Austin Cambridge A60 does not crack under pressure. The despicable dual carriageway known to its enemies simply as 'the A12' was sent to test us today. It was closed. It was the only route to our location. Bastard. We did nothing to harm the A12, we simply wished to pootle along it at the break of dawn and reach the coast by sunrise for a picturesque opening shot. Apparently the A12 objected. It did not, however, act alone in its vicious attempt to thwart our plans. Its accomplice? An 'incident'. No doubt this incident involved a certain species of clown, driving his shiny saloon whilst reading the Daily Fail and sipping on a soyabean latte. No doubt this clown, so engrossed in the large printed sheet, nearly missed his turning and pulled off sharply in front of a left hand drive lorry thus causing the 'incident' that closed the 'A12' and RUINED OUR MORNING!!! Bastards.
The Cambridge and I were forced to follow a diversion which was not yet signposted, guided only by a stubborn ass TomTom that was refusing to consider the possibility of taking any other route. This resulted in us getting lost and driving in exactly the opposite direction to our destination for approximately half an hour. Louis and Cino were slightly more fortunate, by the time they arrived at the roadblock, the diversion signs were in place. Their luck, however, soon ran out as they found themselves joining a queue of very slow moving traffic. Very, very slow moving traffic. What ensued was a series of panic-stricken phone calls that sounded something like this. Where are you now? I'm lost. What do you mean you're lost? I don't know where I am. What does the satnav say? It says I'm going the wrong way. Call Tim. You call Tim. (Tim is the kind council man who has sacrificed several hours of sleep on a Monday morning to meet us at the seafront to give us the keys to our locations. Tim must be told that he could have stayed in bed as we are not going to be arriving at our destination any time soon). Indecipherable yelling followed by hanging up of the phone.
The main problem with going the wrong way in the Cambridge on a country lane is that you must turn around. Apparently the invention of the three point turn came after the invention of power steering. Beforehand, the turn had infinitely many points and was a great deal more embarrassing, especially when surrounded by irate morning drivers who were already late for work. Eventually we were all facing the same direction and whilst we watched helplessly as the sun rose higher and higher in the sky, we followed diversions through sleepy villages that had never experienced so many cars in their entire existence. The village cats looked alarmed. The Cambridge, however, pulled out all the stops. On paper, this old lady should have overheated like a redhead in the desert. She should have wilted and spluttered through her tired lungs and collapsed at the side of the road in need of mechanical assistance and a glass of water. Instead, she ploughed on like a boss and finally we reached our destination, albeit with grey hairs that were not there when we left home. Thankfully, kind Tim had hidden the keys for us, in a location that even Louis was able to find.
Our struggle was not quite over as, arriving four hours behind schedule, we missed the sunrise completely and were faced with a flaming ball of gas piercing through our lens and no idea how to capture the opening shots that we had envisaged. Another closed road. But we are the foot soldiers of the filmmaking world. Armed with only a trench knife and threadbare boots, we must win the war. We put our heads together and searched for inspiration, and soon enough we found a diversion and we powered on through the shoot. With Cino laying flat on the back seat of the Cambridge chattering away about Portuguese houses, and a very expensive camera wobbling about on the bonnet, we drove up and down the promenade. Bonnie and Clyde were finally on the road.
The Austin Cambridge A60 can smell your fear. It can reduce a grown man to tears. This morning it brought us to our knees.
It was the last day of filming with the old lady. We were tense. Just get us through one more day. Thus far the fears of overheating and exhaustion had not been realised. Surely it would not happen today...
It did not happen today. What did happen today was far worse than either of us could have ever predicted. What happened today was catastrophic.
We set off in the early hours with our fingers crossed for no more 'incidents'. No more than 400 yards away from our front door she refused to take the necessary step from second to third gear. It's early, we thought, she's just warming up. Nothing to panic about. We crunched her back into first gear and tried again. We made it another 200 yards and holy crap she won't go into gear. We are losing speed, begging her to shift, before we know it she's rolling backwards and we've taken out a tail light. Please God no. Not today. Yes today. We roll her back to the side of the road while the crushing reality slowly sinks in. The star of our film has broken gear syndrome. She will not drive us to victory.
At first we sit, dumbfounded, speechless, incredulous. This quickly turns to blind panic, hysteria, delirium and finally sad acceptance. The show's over. Our efforts wasted. It's time to go home. Only we can't get into reverse...
Resigned to our fate, we introduced a new character into our tragedy. The AA. They would play Charon, the ferryman of Hades who would carry us to hell. Whilst we waited Resh arrived and we had a ham sandwich. He then announced that he had something for us. He disappeared into his car boot and re-emerged rather suspiciously. He looked around before approaching us gingerly, something concealed within his jacket. He carefully unravelled the cloth to reveal a 5 inch pellet gun that he thought might be useful for the robbery scene. To be honest it was more James Bond than Bonnie and Clyde but it put a smile on our faces. The other thing that Resh had brought with him was hope. We started allowing ourselves to contemplate the possibility that Charon might actually get us back on the road. No, he couldn't possibly, it's not worth considering... is it?
Charon arrived in the form of a bald, bespectacled, yellow jacketed fellow named John. He popped the 50 year old bonnet and got to work whilst we held our breaths. A few pumps of the clutch and a gasp. We have second gear people! We can do this! A few more pumps and we have third! Surely first gear is within our grasp. And there it comes, that golden moment where she glides into position and we rejoice! She is alive! We are saved! She is fixed! Life is wonderful! We approach John to embrace him and hail him as our hero but he is shaking his shiny head. She needs a new slave cylinder. A what? Where may we purchase such an instrument? John announces that he will follow us to KwikFit and then he can do no more. Another kick in the teeth. On the drive to Kwik Fit, one thought occurred to us... we are driving to KwikFit. If we can drive to KwikFit how much further can we drive? John, how far can we drive without this slave cylinder of yours? Welllll, he rubs his chin, you could probably get from A to B. I see, and how about from A to E then back to A and then maybe on to C again? You might be alright. We'll take that fellas, all stations GO GO GO!!!
On a wing and a prayer and with one eye closed we hit the road, hoping to catch up on lost time. An hour later and we were all there, exactly where we were supposed to be three hours earlier, but better late than never. We began immediately and worked tirelessly, making every minute count until the sun bowed out to the night and disappeared beyond the horizon.
Against all odds, we did what we set out to do and the robbery scenes were in the bag. We arrived at home, emotionally battered, nerves frayed, thankful for great friends and that little bit of luck that got us through.
Grain Tower Battery is a 19th century anti-invasion fort located a thousand metres away from shore at the Isle of Grain. In other words it is in the middle of the sea. This is today's location. Having learnt from three days of disaster, we have prepared ourselves for the worst case scenario... drowning.
During low tide the tower is just about accessible by a path running from the shore along the sea bed. This path would not pass any health and safety assessments. In fact, fifty percent of the path does not qualify as a path at all. Our wellies prove to be useless as we wade along knee deep in water in our first scout of the location. That's right, our first scout of the location is occurring the exact same day as our first shoot at the location. Splendid.
We arrive hoping to find some nice safe steps to lead us up into the tower. Of course there are no nice safe steps. There is instead a thin blue rope hanging down a wet, stony, 10 foot wall. This is our only entrance into the tower. I'm not climbing the rope. You ARE climbing the rope. We start climbing the rope. So, it turns out the worst case scenario is not drowning after all...
Whilst I try to avoid falling to a very premature death, one thought becomes prominent in my mind. If we survive this now, we must repeat it tomorrow whilst carrying a lot of very expensive film equipment. Super.
Once inside the tower of doom, our predicament does not improve. Grain Tower is a graffiti covered labyrinth of badly lit passages and chambers. The darkest of rooms have giant open hatches in the floor. What genius conceived that brainchild? Where shall we put the big holes Stan? Let's put them in the dark rooms where no one can see them. Won't people fall through them? Stan shrugs. Great work Stan. It turns out that Stan was also in charge of the ceilings. There are five steps leading to an opening where the sun shines through so brightly that it blinds you. As you mount the fourth step a 4 foot ceiling comes out of nowhere. Stan's pièce de résistance. Its sharp concrete edge sits quietly in the darkness, waiting patiently for its victims like a deadly sniper. Today's victim, Resh. The sweet boy that has volunteered his time to help us, in return for nothing other than our love and the occasional sandwich. His gentle, peanut shaped head meets the concrete with a spine-tingling crunch and Oh Christ we've killed him! Our friend is dead, we are a mile aways from shore, we can't even get him down the rope let alone down the path. We shall have to leave him here for the seagulls. As we contemplate what to tell his mother, he turns out not to be dead at all. Phew. I consider the irony, you can't open the windows in most hotels in this country in case you fall to your death and yet here is a dilapidated tower just off the coast of Kent, where the possibilities for life-terminating activities are endless...
We exit the tower of death and return to the car for our equipment. The perils of the tower will return tomorrow but for today we are filming the externals. We plod up and down the path for a few hours, nearly losing Resh again when he stands still for too long and begins to sink into the mud. This time when the sun becomes too bright to film we breathe a huge sigh of relief. We can go home for a bath and an early night and hope that our psychological state will improve by the morning.
Grain Tower Battery would either make or break us today. Both outcomes had equal probability.
All week the temperatures have been unusually high. Unreasonably high. Today, on perhaps our most gruelling shoot, a mile out to sea in an exposed 200 year old wreckage, winter begins. The winds appear, they must be late for something as they are travelling at no less than 100mph. Grain Tower Battery is going to break us today. Outcome certain.
When we arrive the tide is still in. We take shelter in Resh's Volkswagen Polo and eat bananas for courage. In hindsight, knowing that this could have been our last meal, we should have feasted on something more exciting. Half an hour later, we load ourselves up and begin the trek along the muddy mile. The icy wind pierces our eardrums and renders our fingers useless. We march on and somehow survive the climb into the tower, all equipment in tact. Today Resh had brought torches, we shall not fall at the first hole in the ground. Louis goes off to explore and leaves us in a sheltered room. I look around at the beer cans, empty food packets and graffiti filled walls. Oh look, there's my name on the wall. That's weird. Oh, there it is again. And again, and again... and again. My name has been scrawled in every available space on every available surface. This is no longer weird, this is terrifying. I try not to dwell on it. Just then, Louis returns. He informs us that he has just come beak to beak with an enormous eagle. That doesn't sound like a good sign either. We set up anyway and begin filming, our confidence starts to grow with every scene and soon enough, thoughts of giant killer birds and graffiti omens are discarded. The tide is not even at its lowest point yet and we are powering through our shot list. We still have several hours ahead of us. We shall return as champions, bearing an SD card full of footage. People will cheer. Mothers will cry. Has anyone noticed that the water looks closer? No. Are you sure? Yeh it's fine, carry on. Five minutes later. That water definitely looks closer. Silence. We stare at each other. Just ignore it and it'll go away. Apparently this rule does not apply to the tide. We mark a rock for reference. Five more minutes. The rock has disappeared completely. Time to panic, we're only halfway through our schedule. We pick up the pace, one eye on the camera, one eye on the ever-approaching water. Over the next hour we experience firsthand a well known truth; that time and tide wait for no man, and they certainly won't wait for us. Moreover, this tide is no normal tide, this is a spring tide and its speed is alarming. We still haven't finished shooting and the water is getting dangerously close. Resh checks the path every few minutes, it's still there. We can't stop now. We have to get this. We keep pushing. One more shot. We grab our final shot and start to pack away. Louis goes to check the path a final time and returns screaming. WE HAVE TO GET OUT NOW!! I take his warning with a pinch of salt, he is prone to overreaction, but we pack as quickly as our frozen hands will allow. We hurry back to the blue rope, no time for torches, praying that our legs will avoid the hatches. When we get to the rope you can pinpoint the exact second that our stomachs simultaneously leap into our throats. It is the second that we notice the path is submerged. The unrelenting tide has surrounded the tower. It is racing us back to shore and it has a huge head start. We drop down the rope, grab our cases and with our eyes fixed on the part of the path that is still above water we start wading through. The water is almost waist high, we have no way of spotting the dips and crack that lay beneath. We can only hope. We check on each other constantly. The current is strong and the mud is thick. Jack is in front of me. He turns to look back and suddenly I find him powering past me and towards the tower. I turn to find that Resh has strayed off the path, he is stuck in the mud. In that split second we contemplate dropping the equipment to go back and pull him out but he has wrenched himself free. We keep powering on until we find ourselves back in the safety of dry land. We look back at the tower, now completely engulfed by the waves. Five more minutes and we would have been stranded there until night time. Or worse. We look at each other. We are soaked through, freezing cold and exhausted. We laugh. We did it. We don't know how but we did it. As we stumble back to the car, a horrifying thought dawns on us. We haven't actually finished. We have five more shots to get on land and no idea from where to summon the energy. We stop for lunch in the car. Resh changes into dry clothes whilst Jack and I look on enviously. We are in costume. The same soaking wet costume that we have to wear for the final scenes. We raid the lunch bag and take a nap in the car to numb the pain. An hour later, using all the strength we have left, we drag each other across the finish line. Bonnie and Clyde is wrapped.
We pause for a moment, reflecting upon the successes and smiles, the trials and the tribulations of the past five days. Suddenly it all becomes clear. When you make a film to honour the memory of a great man, a man who did things his way no matter how hard, a man who knew that nothing worth having comes easy, don't expect him to give you an easy ride. Expect him to throw down a gauntlet to see if you are brave enough. Expect him to throw hurdles in your path to see how high you can jump. And when you've done all you can and your energy is spent, you can count on him to shine that little ray of light that gets you through. This one's for you Vincent Cobb.