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CONFETTI

The Planning Stages
Although there have been a handful of popular improvised screen comedies, most begin with some kind of skeletal script. Debbie Isitt, however, wanted to take a much bigger risk. She wanted her film to emerge completely organically, featuring pure improvisation and totally spontaneous comedy performances – involving real situations, real people and real locations that the actors would have to react to in the moment.

Isitt had always been drawn to the directness, the creative impulsiveness and most of all the sheer kinetic energy of improvised theatre. "Improvisation has always been very dear to my heart,” the director says. "I trained as an actor and worked in the theater and what came out of that is this strong desire I have to capture the spontaneous truth wherever I can find it.”

Earlier, Isitt had directed a shoestring mock documentary entitled TRIBUTE, which followed two local British actors into real locations with a hand-held video camera for several months, ultimately unfolding the funny and surprisingly moving story of a struggling tribute band. The Times of London called the film "a terrific zero-budget version of SPINAL TAP.”

With CONFETTI, she hoped to do something similar, but on a much larger scale. Explains co-producer Nick Jones: "Debbie wanted to preserve the absolute immediacy of a workshop setting. Usually when people talk about improv, they mean it in a very limited way. But with CONFETTI, the improvisation was total so the actors actually became the characters you see in the film.”

For independent producers Ian Flook and Ian Benson – both of whom are drawn to finding and developing new talents and ideas -- the concept was intriguing, but with a definite tinge of serious danger. "An improvised piece with no script was a scary prospect,” admits Benson. "But it was Debbie's conviction, and her absolute passion for the idea that convinced us it had legs. You really get wrapped up in her warmth and energy.”

Right off the bat, Flooks and Benson faced a daunting challenge: attempting to finance a film that didn't even have a script to show investors. "We knew it would be extremely difficult so what we did was to shoot a short, little sample of the film using scenes from the workshops Debbie was doing with the actors,” explains Flooks. "This gave us a chance to reveal the idea and show how the comedy would work.”

As the film progressed, however, the lack of a structured storyline soon turned from a potential problem to a major creative advantage, in Flooks' view. "There were difficulties, of course,” says Flooks. "For example, without a script to work from, it was tough to even make a daily schedule. But we were very lucky in that we had a cast and crew who were all very adaptable and extremely good at their jobs and really embraced the spirit of the story. I think the whole process of making CONFETTI taught me that if you are surrounded by very creative people you can succeed with no rules!”

Isitt knew that such an unscripted story could only be built on the foundation of actors willing to completely immerse themselves in their characters. "The casting process was lengthier than the shoot,” laughs Isitt. "That's because we needed to find actors who really understood what they were letting themselves in for and who also were going to be able to handle it. We saw a lot of brilliant actors who really did struggle without a script. We saw other actors who were great at improv but who clearly weren't right for these characters. In the end, I think we assembled just the right group.”

Having cast some of Britain's most talented and humorous comedic stars, Isitt then pushed them to their edges. Instead of handing them lines to study, she invited them to start exploring their characters by moving through the world – visiting florists, bridal shops, bakeries and other we

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