I’m just mad about Saffron – Page 2

Making the moonshine. From PotBlack Hole.
A poet who really does know it! From The Ink Hat.
Sophie Aldred and Steve Cook get camera happy.

The production team was culled from various phases of Paul’s career. Co-animator/scriptwriter, David Skinner was an old school chum. He previously worked with Paul on RAM, a film for Channel 4. David’s fine art backgrounds add a maturity and logic that compliments Paul’s way out state of mind. David spent long days and nights working on the backgrounds. “While most people were tucked up in bed David was working out eye levels, mixing colours, creating moods and atmosphere. He almost became nocturnal,” claims Paul.

Rostrum camera operator, Chris Shelley, has shot the credits for literally hundreds of television shows, films and so on. His mixes and ripple glass and other camera techniques enhanced and completed the overall look of the series. Chris, being the oldest member of the team, kept Paul and David well under control.

One time editor of the television show Vision On, Steve Gabell, brought with him the ability to splice together a project that could easily have taken off on a tangent.

An instantly memorable theme tune as well as all incidental music was provided by David Owen Smith and Paul Aitken, also known as ‘Catslick Music’. David also provided the narrative for all the characters including Saffron.

“They have all worked on something with me at least once,” says Paul. “They understand or simply accept what I want to do and they’ve got a sense of humour. That’s very important for me. I can’t stand humdrum, absolute nothingness. I need a bit of enthusiasm, which they all have, and they can actually tolerate me for longer than five minutes. You have to do a lot of work to find people that will eventually come together as a team.”

Paul had a number of ideas about who should play Saffron but when he saw Sophie Aldred on the television show Jackanory he realised she would be perfect. “I rang Spotlight to find her agent and they told me:

June Epstein. It was pure fate that the one theatrical agent in the whole world I knew very well was June Epstein. I rang June and was able to avoid all the bull such as sending in my c.v. because she knew exactly what I had done. She just called Sophie in and said ‘Paul wants to talk to you about this project.’ Sophie said ‘Yes, I’ll do it,’ as simple as that. Had it not been June Epstein it would have been a different story. That was a year before filming actually started. It took a long time to get the money.

Paul hopes Sophie’s connection with the television show ‘Dr Who’ will generate interest from the vast army of Dr. Who fans. They tested the water by visiting a Dr. Who convention in Liverpool. “It took everybody by surprise,” says Paul. “We showed a trailer and sold posters, badges, stickers and tee shirts. It got an incredible response. However, we did iritate a few of the very hard core fans. You’d have thought we’d trodden on the flag!”

There must have been a temptation to include some reference to Dr. Who in the Saffron series but Paul resisted. “The nearest is in ‘Time Glasses’ when she materialises in a doorway, although that looks more like ‘Star Trek’. Sophie is not doing Dr Who any more, she has moved on to other things. We could have introduced a character like Sylvester McCoy but that was not as simple as it seems. We would have had to get permission to use his face so I decided not to pursue that option. But anybody we don’t like we can chuck in there as a monster,” jokes Paul.

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