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PONDERS END – Kieron Clark

Ponders End
Let’s start at the beginning. Given the incredibly broad theme of the commission, what drew you to the challenge of pitching an idea to the HERE Festival?

I loved the idea of a film festival about suburbia and it tied in well with some ideas that I had for films where extraordinary things happen in ‘ordinary’ places, or where the ‘ordinary’ and the everyday become the centre of attention.

To give us a quick picture of where the journey led you, could you sum up your film in a sentence?

In a sentence, I would say that Ponders End is a film about love, death and gentrification in suburbia.

Where did the initial idea come from and how did it evolve after visiting the area and the Talkies team? Did your film develop from time with your assigned mentor?

Ponders End is about how ephemeral our lives are and about the places that we leave behind. Like most people, I suppose, I’ve often thought when living somewhere about the people who lived there before, about what their lives might have been like and what they would think of my life. In London, there’s also this great demographic churn going on all the time, as areas that are initially less glamorous and more affordable to live in become more fashionable and more expensive, with young professionals and young families moving in.

My idea was to explore this through the story of the ghost of a widower in his 70s who finds himself living with a young ‘hipster’ couple. As their lives go on around him, he’s still very much focused on his past and on his moment of happiness. Can the living and the dead ever learn to live together in peace? And how much of us lives on in the bricks and mortar around us?

Ponders End

When I started thinking about the Enfield area, the name ‘Ponders End’ just leapt out at me as the place where the film should be set and as the name that I should give to the film. It expresses perfectly how Peter, the ghost, is feeling. Initially, I had the character of a medium acting as a conduit between the young couple and Peter, but as I developed the idea it seemed more appropriate to go with a somewhat ponderous monologue, so that we really experienced things from Peter’s point of view. I like the idea of voices in the ether, that maybe we, the audience, have just tuned into by accident.

What were the highlights and challenges of working to the HERE brief?

It’s been great working on a commission for a set brief, as it’s really helped to focus the script and the way that the film has turned out, as a nice, compact 5-minute moment.

The highlight was perhaps when we spent ages lighting a scene with Tony, the lead actor, sitting on the staircase, only for one of the bulbs to blow, leaving us with something that looked perfect, partly by accident and partly as the result of some skilfull work by the DOP. On the next take Tony’s performance was perfect, and we all knew we’d got the shot in the bag. I’m also very fond of the moment when Peter (Tony) is watching incredulously as the espresso maker steams away on the stove: the generation gap in microcosm.

After the films premiere at the HERE Film Festival on the 15th April, what do you want to work on next? Have any exciting ideas been sparked through the project?

I have various short and feature films, with various budgets, in development. Among them is The End, the story of a middle-aged couple who have been having an affair on the day that they decide to start a new life together and a 90-second short for the Depict! competition. A script of mine was also recently shortlisted for the Jameson First Shots competition and was read by various Hollywood big cheeses, including Adrien Brody and Kevin Spacey.

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