Typist Artist Pirate King is showing at Plymouth Arts Cinema from Friday 17th November 2023 – Wednesday 22nd November. Director Carol Morley will be joining us for an introduction and Q&A for the screening on Friday November 17th.
Dear Reader, Subscriber, Cinemagoer, Friend,
I am writing this on the road in an electric car with producer Cairo Cannon, as we preview our road movie TYPIST ARTIST PIRATE KING before its theatrical release this Friday. We are handing the film over to you, the audience: a film is nothing without you – for by watching the film you complete it.
“A FILM IS NOTHING WITHOUT YOU – FOR BY WATCHING THE FILM YOU COMPLETE IT”
As we navigate the roads, I ponder how the archive of a real woman – the artist and mental health survivor Audrey Amiss – has brought us to this point. How lucky I was to get a Wellcome Screenwriting Fellowship and become the first researcher to get such significant access to her fifty thousand wonderful sketches; her brilliant paintings; her erudite diaries; logbooks and scrapbooks.
But what kind of movie was I going to make? I didn’t feel a documentary was the right form. Audrey had left so many words behind – I wanted to make a film where she spoke for herself!
“AUDREY HAD LEFT SO MANY WORDS BEHIND — I WANTED TO MAKE A FILM WHERE SHE SPOKE FOR HERSELF”
Audrey loved to travel and rather saw herself as Don Quixote. And so, the idea of the road movie emerged, with Audrey going on a journey with her psychiatric nurse, Sandra Panza, in search of an art exhibition. Along the way, Audrey misidentifies many of the people she comes across as those from her past. This was something I drew from her real-life diaries – it enabled me to unfold Audrey’s past in the present without the need of flashbacks. Oh, and Audrey also gave me the title of the film; when I found her old passport, she had written as her occupation: Typist Artist Pirate King.
It was important to me that I made a film with comedy running through it, as Audrey Amiss was funny. She prided herself on her sense of humour. She wrote of returning from the hairdresser with her hair like Reggie Kray, she sent numerous letters to the Sherlock Holmes Society about her missing sock.
Every single person who collaborated on the film loved Audrey’s art and wanted passionately to bring Audrey to filmic life. Monica Dolan, playing the spirit of Audrey Amiss, is extraordinary and brings Audrey, a person pushed to the margins, to the very centre of the world. And Kelly Macdonald offers an incredible portrait of a nurse on the frontline – no longer able to move forward, though with Audrey’s help she does. Becoming friends, they help each other.
“EVERY SINGLE PERSON WHO COLLABORATED ON THE FILM LOVED AUDREY’S ART AND WANTED PASSIONATELY TO BRING AUDREY TO FILMIC LIFE”
The brilliant Gina McKee plays Audrey’s sister, Dorothy, who she met in her preparation for the film. (Dorothy got into trouble with her family for not taking a photo of herself with Gina!) The film is dedicated to Dorothy, who sadly died while we were editing. She was very happy that Audrey was going to get the recognition she and her mam Belle believed she deserved. And when Dorothy read the screenplay she wrote me a note, which touched me deeply: “Thank you for giving me my Audrey back.”
It also seems poignant that the Saturday of our opening weekend would have been Audrey’s 90th birthday – so I hope you will seek out TYPIST ARTIST PIRATE KING this weekend and discover and complete the film in your own way.
With love and respect to you all from the road,