Hollywood Movies

How Manx short film about dementia attracted Hollywood stars

April 7, 20243 Mins Read

It has been quite the directorial debut for filmmaker Pete Rogers.

Not only did he manage to attract a stellar cast for his island-based short film Little Brown Bird but it has been nominated in the short drama category for Torc awards at the Celtic Media Festival.

The annual three-day celebration will see nominees come together celebrating the diverse body of work across Scotland, Ireland, Wales, Cornwall, Brittany and Galicia, as well as the island.

Little Brown Bird stars Hollywood actor Jonathan Rhys-Davis as a dementia sufferer who is looked after by his overworked farmer daughter, played by Eliza Butterworth, who becomes increasingly convinced something is hunting them.

Pete has worked in visual effects for television and film for the past 12 years and he wrote a short film called Packaged which aired on the BBC in 2017 but Little Brown Bird is his directorial debut. 

‘What started as a fun writing prompt became something more tangible quite quickly,’ he explained, ‘and I then developed it during lockdown. Being shut in at home I had time to work on the script, with the help of writing mentors who were available due to the industry shutting down.’

Pete explains how he managed to attract such big stars and what it was like to work with John and Eliza.

‘I was very lucky to get to work with such a talented cast’ he said. ‘Both John and Eliza came on board due to how much they liked the script, which gave me real confidence in the material.

‘They were an absolute joy to work with, both brought so much to their roles and elevated what was on the page to new heights. I was also grateful for their patience and understanding, as I found my feet behind the camera.’

Pete is based in Cardiff and originally envisaged filming Little Brown Bird in Wales but that all changed when he secured Isle of Man Arts Council funding.

‘Little Brown Bird was filmed at Moorhouse Farm in Colby,’ he said. ‘We put out a request for a farmhouse on the island and had several options to look into. Moorhouse Farm fitted the aesthetic we were looking for and we did the equivalent of a recce via a video call.

‘We then drove around the island looking for suitable exteriors for the film’s opening and settled on the view across to the Calf of Man.’

Pete is delighted his film has received a nomination at the Torc Awards.

‘I’m extremely happy that our film has been nominated,’ he said. ‘I am very proud to represent the island at such a prestigious event. Feedback on the film has been overwhelmingly positive and we have been nominated for several awards in recent months.

The film is still doing a festival run and has been shown in England, Wales, Norway, Spain and will be screened in Portugal next month.

‘I’m hoping we can arrange a screening on the island too’ Pete said. ‘Once the festival run is over we will probably find an online home for the film.

On the set of Little Brown Bird shot on the island

On the set of Little Brown Bird shot on the island (Pete Rogers)

On the set of Little Brown Bird shot on the island

On the set of Little Brown Bird shot on the island (Pete Rogers)

On the set of Little Brown Bird shot on the island

On the set of Little Brown Bird shot on the island (Pete Rogers)

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