Advance Party (film series)
Advance Party is the name given to a concept of three films which are all to follow a set of rules proposed by executive producers Gillian Berrie, Lone Scherfig and Anders Thomas Jensen. The concept came out of discussion between Lars von Trier, Berrie, Scherfig and Jensen. Each film is to be made by different first-time directors and producers. The production companies Sigma Films (Glasgow) and Zentropa (Denmark) are behind the concept.
Scherfig and Jensen created a list of characters and gave them back stories, which the three directors could then write their story around.
Casting for all three films had to be done at the same time by the three different directors, due to the shared cast.
This is the original document given to the film makers.
ADVANCE PARTY August 2003
THE CHARACTERS Here are the characters that will carry all the films under ADVANCE PARTY. The scripts can take their starting point in one or more characters or they may be subjected to an external drama. The characters can also participate in a form that is governed primarily by neither characters nor plot. The films take place in Scotland but apart from that the writers are free to place them anywhere according to geography, social setting or ethnic background. Their back-stories can be expanded, family relations can be created between them, they can be given habits good or bad, and secondary characters can be added if it is proper for the individual film. The interpersonal relationships of the characters differ from film to film and they may be weighted differently as major or minor characters. The development of the characters in each story or genre does not affect the other scripts. All of the characters must appear in all of the films. The various parts will be cast with the same actors in the same parts in all of the films.
ALFRED, 64. Donkeys When he was young, he had great dreams and ideas about how his life would turn out. However, certain circumstances caused Alfred to never realize a single one of them and it was quite likely, that he would end his days as a bitter, disenchanted man, but he hasn’t and for one simple reason: he lies. Alfred lies about himself and to himself. He always has a new story about his past. Unexpectedly, he may draw parallels from his experience with for example the bomber raids of Bremen, although he would have been only four years old at the time. He talks about women he has been married to (who have never been married to him) even private details, which he is embarrassed to reveal. He seems to have decided that whatever he might make up is better than the failed existence he came to lead. If you meet Alfred in the pub, he will be an unreasonably interesting acquaintance the first time, the second time you will wonder how for example his ten years as a young engineer in the Far East were possible, and the third time you will write him off as a fool, if you haven’t come to love him by then. Because he is very lovable, none of Alfred’s lies are vicious. However, once in a while he will suddenly tell you the truth, but he has been lying so much and for so long, that he may not be quite sure when anymore. Other times, his lies lead to fatal misunderstandings. Alfred suffers from a severe fear of dying and it worsens every time one of his contemporaries passes on or every time he feels love for one of his close relatives. When he is really scared of dying, he behaves differently.
APRIL, 28. She is very shy: she is a newcomer or may even be moving to a new place in every film without really knowing anybody at first. Everything she owns fits into two suitcases. She has had to part with something, since she seems to have no past and no family. She is unusually beautiful, but she has the ability to make herself almost invisible just by sitting quietly and observing what’s going on around her. After a while, people forget that she’s even sitting there. She never initiates a conversation. She smokes.
CRISPIN, 40. Crispin owns a shoe store. Women like him a lot and he loves to fit them for shoes. Crispin’s mind is in another place, though. Only his dog really knows him. Crispin is the last descendant of an old family, and quite possibly he will remain that way, because he isn’t a very flirtatious type of person. He has spent a lot of time on his own and he pretty much spends his weekdays on his own, even though the shops may be packed with customers. He thinks before he speaks and he is a good listener. He is slow and calm, almost a bit old-fashioned. Although the store is running smoothly and Crispin is well liked he has an increasing feeling of being misplaced and it is becoming a serious problem to him.
JACKIE, 34. The world has been insanely unfair to her. She has lost her only brother, her husband, and their child. Jackie is a bit aloof and cool. Habitually, she maintains a relationship with a married man, whom she meets with afternoons, fortnightly. He can’t quite bring himself to part with her full bosom and she gets just enough intimacy to avoid shutting herself off from the world. Jackie used to be a lot funnier and crazier than she is now. Little details give away this trait: Maybe she has a flight certificate, speaks French, or plays the banjo – she just hasn’t used her skills for some years.
AVERY, 40. Many years ago, he was hit in the head by a tree. His mother was so grateful that he survived, that she left Avery’s father and moved to a convent with her little boy. Avery grew up amongst the nuns and he still visits them. He never became religious himself, but his mother’s gratitude and the love of the nuns live on in him. He always gets the best out of everything, and he dislikes having to say no. He struggles to keep track of time, because there are so many people he wants to do favours for. Avery is a complicated human being, who struggles with the two extremities of his psyche.
Fundamentally, he is very generous and far too kind. He is not a stranger to the idea of giving away his things, buying gifts when they are not called for, and never taking credit for his work. On many a morning, he brings small things or clippings, which he has related to his friends, unselfishly, and brought for their sake. “I know you like butterflies, and I just found this on the sidewalk”. Also, he sometimes almost embarrasses the people around him by praising them and lying about them doing good deeds for other people. “William washed the stairs” he will say, although he did it himself and William just moved a doormat. He always sees the positive aspects of his surroundings and spreads joy and laughter wherever he goes. And then suddenly it all changes. Maybe because the world isn’t fair and all the good deeds you do for others are seldom returned. But Avery will suddenly turn very morbid, almost evil. There are mornings when he has had enough of himself, everything and everybody else. Then he throws his teacup at the floor and wants his goddamn butterflies back. And those, whom he would praise, are stupid bastards and it “wasn’t goddamn William, who washed those stairs”. The next day, he returns the butterflies, because after all, they will look better in a collection than back home under his bed. Avery stays far away from drugs and alcohol, because he knows that he contains anger, that he is afraid to lose control of. His outbursts are not caused by real situations, but by inner feelings, that may burst out at any time. Avery has had several girlfriends, whom he has stayed with, because he didn’t have the heart to leave them. He hates himself because of this, just like he hates every time he fails to be a nice, lovable guy.
CLYDE, 35 He has spent ten of those years behind bars. Due to good behaviour, he was released a couple of years before time and took the job he originally trained for, being a locksmith. His circle of friends are still a motley crew, but relentlessly, he sticks to the straight and narrow. Most women are very attracted to Clyde, and he has lots of them but he quickly loses interest in each of them. Slowly, he lets go of each one of them. In return, he is very faithful to his friends and he tries to make them change their ways as each one of them is released. Sometimes, he succeeds. Other times, he bangs his head against a frozen wall of guilt emerging from his past, which he truly regrets but cannot change. He is a Catholic.
TT, 35. She is too fat but fails to realize it. She is a bonfire of determination, energy and strength, and she could beat up most men if she wanted to. TT despises her mother, but still visits on the odd occasion and she has provided for her needs every since TT’s beloved father died. It’s expensive, but all that work keeps her mind busy with other concerns, although she works in the same place, where her father used to work. She is good at her job and has a breadth of outlook and a surplus of energy. She knows where she’s going, but unfortunately, no man seems to want to follow her. But she is in no hurry. There are billions of men and lots of other things she has to do first. There is only one man, who suddenly makes her feel, small, weak, nervous, say stupid things and trip over her own legs. Every time this happens, she performs an intense ritual to return to her normal self. TT has no friends. She feels unsure of herself when someone offers her a chance to confide. She is at her best when she makes herself useful and she is at home, so she often takes shifts for colleagues and she doesn’t have much leisure time. It is almost strange to see her in an ordinary dress, when on the odd occasion; she leaves her uniform at home.
As of 2012, JACKIE is the protagonist in Red Road, whilst ALFRED and Stevie are the main characters in Donkeys (Stevie is Alfred's son). Stevie was featured heavily in both Red Road and the sequel Donkeys.
Red Road was the first film in the trilogy to be released in 2006, directed by Andrea Arnold (Glasgow). The second, directed by Morag McKinnon (Glasgow), Donkeys, was completed and released in 2010 and Mikkel Nørgaard's (Copenhagen) film is reportedly in "development limbo".
- Ben Kenigsberg (2007-05-03). "Rules of the Road". Time Out Chicago. Retrieved 2007-06-21.