Where films are concerned, Rachel Stubbings likes them sad and/or violent, and loved-up endings can chuff off. She explains the thinking behind her new short, One Tw*t.
For the people who know about the dinky films I make, it’ll come as no surprise to hear that my favourite films are usually sad (Remains of the Day) or violent (Heat – you know the scene) or both (Watership Down).
But anyway, I was 11 when I first watched Pretty Woman, and I remember quite liking it. I mean, apart from what I understand as a grown-up to be the breathtaking misogyny at the film’s very core.
I’m a daft romantic; I love films, always have, even the bad ones, and I believed that the Poor Woman and the Rich Man in Pretty Woman absolutely fell in love. That’s down to Julia Roberts and Richard Gere, to be fair. That bit with the necklace when he slams the box on her fingers was totally improvised. It’s magic to this day.
However, we had Pretty Woman on VHS back then, recorded off the TV (a gentler kind of piracy) and the tape ran out just before the end, giving my unruly imagination permission to make up the end on its own.
A few years later, when I was about 13, it came on the TV again. I remember it so clearly. I was with my best mate Liz. She was my fellow comrade in climbing trees and making dens, well past the age it was socially acceptable (mid-30s, right?). We were both little sisters, terrorised by big brothers, whom we idolised and adored. We had much in common.
“What I hadn’t banked on was Poor Woman going off to live with Rich Man. Just like that. Off they popped and that was the end. What a bore-off.”
We used the same survival skills: stay quiet, keep out of the way, and don’t do anything remotely feminine, else you’ll get teased to smithereens. We could take a Chinese burn to the point where our skin would rip, but still we wouldn’t cry; we wouldn’t so much as blink.
We agreed that while we were probably too cool to enjoy Pretty Woman, we were both sat there anyway. Also, my brothers were at my dad’s for the night so no harm in having it on in the background. We sat, reluctantly spellbound through the whole thing. That’s when I saw the end.
I’d had years of imagining what Poor Woman might do. I thought, she’ll be OK on her own because for starters, she’s got all those designer clothes to sell. I thought she might waitress in the evenings and do a kind of course thing in the day; something that would help others, like work for an organisation that supported women who’d been through something similar in the sex industry. Or work with troubled children like Liz does now. But as it was Hollywood, I’d settle for her becoming a florist or owning a cupcake baking enterprise.
What I hadn’t banked on was Poor Woman going off to live with Rich Man. Just like that. Off they popped and that was the end. What a bore-off.
I felt gutted. At 13 you’ve had enough of fairy tales and I recall an instinctive disappointment that Poor Woman didn’t even bother trying to go it alone.
That’s what stayed with me.
When I was asked why I wrote One Tw*t, I didn’t know where to begin. My best mate Liz lost one her brothers a while ago and it was like the bottom fell out of everything. Grief is so unreasonable and it’s there every time we meet, not always sad but happy too and it seems to appear in everything I make. It’s a mish-mash of conversations, research and knowing I had a director gullible enough to trust in my idea.
Though it might sound weird to mention a mainstream rom-com such as Pretty Woman alongside my short film about siblings, made on no budget, which hardly anyone’s seen, that is where it all started. The horrible little seed that made One Tw*t start to grow.
It’s important to me that a happy ending for a woman in a film doesn’t always have to end with her finding love. I took that idea and went all weird with it.
This is my film One Tw*t, uninspired by Pretty Woman, directed by Ben Mallaby and starring Mike Wozniak, Tom Meeten, me and Jennifer Aima.1829 Views
Writer, actor & comic, Rachel Stubbings just wants everyone to get on, really. Made a bunch of films you’ve probably not seen. @RachelStubbings