Based on a true story: A gentle hand (and a kitten) brings out the best in 91-year-old actress


Film Construction Director, Perry Bradley, recently shot this magical piece for Oceania Healthcare.

He brought a tricky story to life in a delicate, warming way.

Mary – played by our 91-year-old – is not engaged with her new rest home.

A caregiver notices her collection of framed cat photos.

She organises the adoption of a kitten from a local cat rescue agency.

The new kitten brings a spark to Mary's eyes, she comes out of her shell and connects with her new community.

How it came together – the creative process

Bradley explains the complexity of the shoot.

“We faced a rather big story to tell in 60 seconds – without any dialogue. On top of that our lead actress was 91 years of age.

Throw in a long shooting day and a kitten into the story – and the degree of difficulty went through the roof!

Stories like this can be maudlin. We needed to show some delicate emotions but keep it real and overcome some complex storytelling issues."

As usual, Perry produced extensive storyboards for the spot...

"Detailed storyboarding is one of my most powerful tools in filmmaking.

They are not a straightjacket, taking away my freedom – quite the opposite. Because they save time on set, we have more time to improvise and experiment.

Working with elderly actors also added a level of anxiety to the production. Lead Actress June Bishop, is a very experienced performer.

She has had a big acting career in Film and Television in NZ and in the UK, with a starring stint alongside John Pertwee on Dr Who."

Producer Valentine Taylor took on the responsibility of working with a nonagenarian.

"Concern for June was large in Valentine's planning for the shoot," explains Bradley.

"At her age, we wanted her to save her energy for onscreen, so we had a stand-in actress for every shot. June was able to rest between setups.

Once the lighting and camera were ready, she would come in and we would shoot the scene.

But you know what? She was a true pro and loved every minute of being on set.”

Credits

Oceania Healthcare: Jill Birch, Bronwyn Webster, Nathan Hoare.

Rainger & Rolfe: Ant Rainger, Stella Terrell, Quentin Pfistzer, Jo Pfistzer, Peter Mayo, Lauren Proud, Lex Fleming.

Film Construction: Perry Bradley (director), Valentine Taylor (producer), Mark Lapwood (DOP), Nathan Pickles (offline editor), Pete Richie (colourist).

Blockhead: (online)

Starcom: Al Jamieson, Sophia Quilian, James Nicol.

Aeroplane Music and Songbroker: Jan Hellgriel, Greg Johnson.

Magic Moments rights: Burt Bacharach (Sony/ATV), Hal David (BMG).