This is Brenda – Part 2

A Web Series in Several Iterations

Brenda & Kitty – Part 1

Image by John Paul Gibbs

In 2010, I moved to Bristol after spending several years living in Japan. After a settling in period, I felt it was time to bring back Brenda. I contacted Annie to see if she would be up for some more, but she was too busy. The mission was on to find a new foil and girlfriend for Brenda and in the meantime, I started thinking about potential storylines. One Saturday morning I was in the pool at the Easton Leisure Centre with Simon Strange talking about The X Factor. He told me that several of his students had made it through to the Judges’ Houses part but had walked away feeling that the show was more interested in their backstories than their actual talent. This set me off thinking that if it’s a backstory they want, then Brenda can provide them with good one. In late 2010, I applied on Brenda’s behalf.

In the meantime, I met Tristram Shackerley-Bennett and he played Ken in my film Mano a Mano (see blog post dated 10/3/2021 https://spiralstaircase.blog/2021/03/10/mano-a-mano/). I showed him the original Brenda & Annie film, which he liked, and he said he would like to play a version of the Ken character in Brenda. Ken would have softer edges than the Mano a Mano Ken and would be Brenda’s manager through the process. The story would be that Ken had seen Brenda doing karaoke at the local pub and decided that she was going to be a huge star and that he was the man who was going to get her there. Mano a Mano was edited by Zibi Ambroziak and he agreed that he would be the host, cameraman and editor.

At this point, I was hanging out with Kitty O’Donoghue, somebody I had met through my sister and had known for many years and had recently discovered was a neighbour. Through several conversations, we decided that she would be Brenda’s new love interest. We began by filming all the Cabot Circus and outside stuff, then planned a day for filming at my house. On that day, my mother was there but we had no plans to include her in the filming. She would stay in the room but keep quiet and keep out of the way. Lucky for us that she was there, as her chopping up the pipe tobacco proved to be one of the most memorable moments of episode one.

We were also lucky enough to receive the invitation to audition for X Factor in Cardiff in the early Spring of 2011.

We took This is Brenda – Episode One to the Bluescreen at the Cube Microplex in Stokes Croft. We went in character and presented it as a true documentary. People came and asked us questions afterwards and it buoyed us to make the second episode.

To be continued

Simon Downham-Knight – Copyright 11/7/2021

Published by simonmandrake

A weekly dose of short stories, short films, web series, blogs and articles.

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