How Bradley Charlton Created Fading Petals (2022)

Filmmaker Bradley Charlton managed to create a spellbinding movie with powerful acting from the two leads, Melanie Revill and Charlotte Reidie. With just a shoestring budget, this creator conjured up Fading Petals (2022), a drama so gripping and powerful you’d never guess it was made during the COVID pandemic. We had the privilege of sitting down with the visionary Bradley Charlton, who unveiled the behind-the-scenes magic of Fading Petals.

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1. In your own words, could you describe the story of Fading Petals?

Fading Petals sees the paths of two solitary figures cross. These figures are that of the older woman who is played by Melanie Revill and that of the younger woman who’s played by Charlotte Reidie. The pair have an awkward and hostile first encounter but as the film progresses the two develop an unexpected bond.

Eventually events culminate one evening over dinner where buried memories resurface and harsh words are spoken. From there, the older woman begins a slow downward spiral into turmoil as she struggles to accept the fact that the younger woman is no longer ann ever present in her day-to-day life.

2. What was the initial inspiration for the story of “Fading Petals”? Where did the idea for this film come from?

Well, Fading Petals was not the film that we were planning to make. We had another project called The Trespassers that we were hoping to make.
I think it probably began with a lot of reading that I was doing during the lockdown, particularly Lewis Carroll. There was one particular sentence that struck me which was, “It’s no use going back to yesterday because I was a different person then.”

I think that was the genesis of the screenplay and I wanted to examine whether we are defined by our actions or whether our identity is shaped by those actions. I was also very interested in whether memories could be buried, whether actions could ever be forgotten, or would they ultimately resurface? So that’s how the film began. We shot it in 11 days with a crew of just 5. The short film we’d made before that had a crew of almost 20.

3. The cinematography in “Fading Petals” is beautifully intimate and immersive. Can you discuss your approach to the visual style?

I think Fading Petals, for a film that was made on such a small budget, looks fantastic and that is a testament to the qualities and the talent that the film’s cinematographer, Oliver Rigby, possesses. He and I had collaborated prior on previous projects and we had shot exclusively with RED cameras and we had certain lenses that we liked using. But all of that unfortunately went out the window with Fading Petals because a lot of the rental houses were shut down and we couldn’t get the equipment that we wanted.

So that was an enormous challenge. It meant that we were limited when it came to cameras, lenses, lights, etc. A lot of the lights we had to make ourselves, which was again an enormous challenge.
But ultimately, I think that although we weren’t able to get our first choice in that particular department, it meant that it forced us to be more creative.

The cinematography coupled with Dan Evans’ incredible production design and then of course the two central performances, which are amazing, really just tied it all together.

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4. The film has a lot of amazing performances from the cast. What was the casting process like and how did you work with the actors to bring out those powerful portrayals?

I think the performances are the standout in this film. Across the board from the two leads to the supporting actors. But with regards to how do you bring out those powerful performances? It’s not difficult. Even at times when Melanie or Charlotte did things that I wasn’t expecting, almost always it was the right decision.
That’s one thing I particularly love about film, it is a collaborative medium and I really enjoy presenting an actor with a script and saying this is the skeleton, but now it’s yours and you can build from here. Hopefully what ultimately happens is the actor shows up knowing more about the character than you ever could. I was so, so, lucky to work with Mel and Charlotte.

5. What was your biggest takeaway from shooting your first film in the COVID-19 pandemic and with only £10,000?

I’m conflicted on this one because there were scenes in the script that didn’t get shot. There were things that had to be tweaked and all because of the pandemic.

It’s frustrating and it’s a difficult thing to accept even now. Two years later, it’s still difficult. But actually, I think it was an incredible exercise, if nothing else. I think that’s the main job of a film director, solving problems. Part of the reason I’m conflicted is because although there were some things I would have liked to have done that I couldn’t do, there were other things that did happen that weren’t expected and turned out brilliant.

I thank every one of the crew members. We’d never done anything like that. It was also an incredible experience again because of the COVID bubble. We all had to live in that house that we shot in. So we lived and worked in that same space for eight days before we did the last three days at different exteriors and other places, which again was such an amazing experience.

6. Here’s a fun one. Which actor, dead or alive, would be your dream to direct in a future film?

There are many. Some of the dead ones. The Brandos of the world. I like to work in a way that blurs the boundaries between reality and the film. So I think it’d be really interesting to work with one of those more classical trained actors, a Richard Burton or a Peter O’Toole. That would be really interesting. I think getting them to turn up to set would be difficult.

I’m preparing a script at the moment. The script is finished and we’re developing and trying to raise the funding for it. It’s a film called Steeplejack, another feature film. It’s set in the north of England in the 1980s. It’s a very, very lonely and physically strenuous job, being a Steeplejack. I wrote it specifically with Stephen Graham in mind. So I think if there could be anyone, I’ll go for Stephen Graham.

ABOUT FADING PETALS

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