Focus24 were delighted to collaborate with Cinematographer James Butler (JB) and Director Ian Beaumont (IB) in bringing the forgotten story of Veronica Lake to life
So who was Veronica Lake?
JB: Veronica Lake was a leading Hollywood actress in the 1940s and early 1950s, who was perhaps best known for her iconic and much copied peek-a-boo hairstyle. During her career, she starred in four film noirs with Alan Ladd, including This Gun For Hire and The Blue Dahlia, as well as several other classic films, including Sullivan’s Travels and I Married A Witch. She left Hollywood in the early 1950s and resettled in New York. During her post Hollywood career she acted in a number of plays, including as Blanche Dubois in A Streetcar Named Desire and as Peter Pan in a successful run of the play in repertory across the USA. She had issues with alcohol during her life and died aged just 50 in 1973. She has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
How did the project come to life?
IB: always been a fan of Veronica Lake’s films. In 2014, I secured the film rights to her autobiography, Veronica, from US author Don Bain, who co-wrote the autobiography with Veronica Lake and owned the rights to it. Don and I then co-wrote the feature film script – called The Lost Blonde – over the course of a year, while I also simultaneously developed the feature film. Don sadly died in October 2017, aged 82, shortly after James, Ben, myself and the rest of the team completed a teaser/trailer, with Clara Paget playing Veronica. I will be dedicating the project to Don.
How you will approach the cinematography?
JB: I think we plan to continue with the same approach we took on the trailer. We decided not to attempt to recreate the look of a traditional Veronica Lake film, but blend with modern styles and have a hybrid theatrical look; one that combines traditional beauty and Hollywood lighting with more modern styles and colour palettes. We also discussed keeping the camera movement to a minimum and only moving the camera when motivated by the action of the actors, restricting our movement to traditional Hollywood camera moves.
We felt the anamorphic aspect ratio was the perfect format for this story, which is of Veronica’s dramatic exit from the golden age of Hollywood and her struggle in the real world. We had to maintain a cinematic frame on the story and we felt anamorphic gave us that. After testing, we knew the Cooke S6i Anamorphics were the perfect lenses. Their soft rendition of skin and faces, along with the options that the extended set gave us, fitted the productions needs.
IB: For the feature, we plan to integrate a theatrical element to the production with some scenes happening on stage, as if played out to an audience. Veronica had a deep love for theatre and returned to the medium in her later years and we would like to portray this through the mis-en-scene and the larger than life and sometimes sinister characters that surrounded and were drawn to her.
What are the next steps to making the feature a reality?
IB: The next steps will be approaching potential investors and distribution companies. We hope to secure a budget sufficient enough to tell this story as it deserves to be told, recreating some of the iconic locations and eras present in the story.
Ian Beaumont & Little Dude Films Biography
Ian is the director of Little Dude Films, the film division of Little Dude Media Ltd, which is dedicated to writing and producing high quality short and feature length films and TV programmes. He established the company in 2009.
The Lost Blonde will be Little Dude Films’ second feature film. In 2017, Ian and the company produced their first feature film, the well-received music based drama South of the River, written and directed by Joe Watkins, with James Butler as DOP.
The company’s previous short films have appeared in numerous festivals and won or been shortlisted for a number of awards. Shades of Beige and Drift both won the Best Drama award in the Portobello Film Festival in 2012 and 2016 respectively; Deathless was screened at BAFTA and in the L.A. Indie Film Festival in 2013; and the company’s animated film Red Shadows was shortlisted for a Golden Trailer Award, also in 2013. Their 2017 short film Bubbles is still currently on the festival circuit with a public release scheduled for 2019.
James Butler Biography
Starting in TV News and quickly progressing to documentary and narrative work, James’s dark cinematic style has earned him credits on commercials, documentaries and feature films from London to the US and Japan. His passion for storytelling and technical knowledge has been put to use on narrative projects including feature film, “South of the River” as well as on the front lines of war zones in the latest National Geographic Docu-Series “Chain of Command”.