After focusing on documentaries in recent years Number Three is a return to drama for Michael B. Clifford – the BAFTA-winning director of Bouncer and Brown Paper Bag – working in collaboration with new writer J.J. Smith and first-time producer Mark Ellis.
“You’re always learning new things, arent you? Throughout my recent foray into documentaries I kept honing my storytelling talent, as relevant there as it is to any drama. I also kept working with actors in training workshops and it was in these two areas, storytelling and directing performance, that I was particularly keen to test my abilities again.
J.J. Smith attended one of my film making courses as I began to search for new talent and material. I identified in his work strands that I connected with immediately – humour, masculinity, technology and transgression.
Number Three was one of the first scripts he showed me. I felt it worked on a number of levels; it felt unforced, naturalistic, witty and last but not least it seemed ‘do-able’ – low on resources needed and environmental impact.”
The film was shot on location in Cotteridge, Birmingham over the weekend of 1st-2nd February 2020 with DoP Tom Martin and sound recordist Andrew Jones.
Developing new talent
Number Three features a mix of experienced industry professionals and up and coming talent from the Midlands. For most of the cast and crew this is their first time in front of or behind the camera in a professional production. They come from a wide range of backgrounds – IT technician, delivery driver, market researcher, Engineering PhD student – united by a passion for film and an ambition to make great work.
“The film is a really exciting blend of my work as a director and in education, as most of the cast and crew are from my film-making course at MAC Birmingham or from Louise Osbourne’s Acting for Screen” says Michael.
“One of the projects I regularly run at MAC is a 48hr film challenge. After a couple of goes I realised that we got better results if I gave people production roles, based on all those departments you see in film credits and which you need to make a film effective. This in turn meant that, in the weeks leading up to the challenge, I would ‘talent spot’, getting to know people from all kinds of backgrounds and identifying what might be their ‘transferable skills’.
It’s a process that gave me a lot of confidence in taking on a team of people who, although clearly talented in their existing fields were first timers on a film set. I could give them roles I felt sure they could pull off.
The Midlands has seen a huge drain of film and TV talent in recent years but as a region it has great potential. Going forward, I think that this could be one of the ways that new production talent could be developed in the region.”