Behind the scenes of "Dumb Angel Fairy Tale".
Director's Statement from Jesper Madsen, Lars Kjelfred & Rasmus Skotte:
When we had our chance meeting in London, January 2002 being seated back to front, Rasmus was the big Brian Wilson fan. Lars & Jesper were fans only to a degree. At least enough to travel to Royal Festival Hall for the Pet Sounds live performance - and enough to have experimented with turning Let's Go Away For A While into a video. These facts convinced Rasmus that the three of us should create a Smile-film together. Two months later we agreed to go for it.
"The first year, we were preparing a screenplay. We decided from the outset to make it a silent movie with only the Smile & fairytale music/songs and the Rieley/Brian narrations on the soundtrack. We were going to film on location with teenage actors and to produce it ourselves, which in the end turned out to cost us 9,500 U.S. dollars.
By June of the next year we were almost ready. We had bought our digital video camera (Panasonic DVX 100) and arranged our casting dates to find our players - including the part of the Magic Transistor Radio. We chose an old B&O 1960 Beolit - not because it's Danish but for its design (lots of holes to channel the green light). Prince John's part had already been handpicked and given to Konstantin because of his charm and charisma. We appointed his brothers to play the 3 youngest princes."
"Konstantin quickly became a fan of the music and the fairytale universe. The small village, Tranegilde south of Copenhagen gave us our primary location - not least Damgaarden, where the two owners Astrid & Albert - each around four scores old but very young at heart - invited us to film inside and out, all summer long! We then held a local casting where we found the king, prince Henry (Timmy who studies to be a musical performer), the guard and two of the princesses all living in the village. Henry and the youngest princess are siblings. And the king is father of the princess who tosses the carrot. Margarita (Mathilde) is the daughter of a well known Danish actress and the queen is working as a psychologist, when she doesn't perform on theatre and film."
"Out of the blue came the news that we could never have imagined: Brian was going to do a European Smile tour. This gave us renewed confidence and a final deadline - not negotiable. London February 20th 2004! We found a public school and a 9th grade class ready to participate. The Smile Shop was one of the last locations to be found. But the second hand shop from the Taastrup High Street was a perfect match. Originally we had planned John's hiding place to be up in a tree. But after two weeks of shooting Lars spotted the beautiful Buick hearse being parked in the local vintage cars auto mechanic’s parking lot and we all agreed that it would a great hideout. It couldn't drive so we had to push it up to the top of the hill. We found some great sponsoring caterers so we dined like royals - and one of the neighbors allowed us to use their swimming pool between takes!"
We had a crew of 10 very talented people all working for free in their summer vacation – as did we and our cast. We didn't really have a complete screenplay but we worked around it always being open to changes and improvisations, which turned out to be a strength making the filming, editing and (hopefully) end result more organic. The editing process began in November 2003. We invested in Pinnacle's Liquid Edition and installed it in Lars' & Mia's flat, where we worked almost every night and weekend for the next four months. We decided to call it Dumb Angel Fairy Tale (Dumb Angel for Smile and fairytale from Mt. Vernon) a title that gave us the acronym D.A.F.T. also used in "DAFTfilm". The film would be one great flashback sandwiched between the Smile Shop-scenes with its display of vintage designer radios."
"Be My Baby was included because this is where Brian found his main musical theme: the "descending arpeggio" prominent in Prayer and the original Surf's Up-coda but also appearing in expanded variations during Heroes & Villains, Sweet Mountain and the Mt. Vernon/Workshop theme. We knew that using the original music on the soundtrack would limit the movie's circulation. But we just couldn't raise the extra 20,000 dollars needed to clear the copyright situation. Two weeks before our deadline we lost one third of (edited) film in a freak accident (us being the freaks) so we had to go back and identify the missing parts and transfer them once more from the original tapes. One week later the computer broke down. "Oh no - NOT AGAIN!" Finally in the course of a 24-hour session we somehow managed to complete the movie and burn a DV-copy only minutes before we had to leave for London and our first screenings.
In London it was mind-blowing to experience Brian & his band perform the music we had been listening to and working with the past two years and to have fans - and also insiders (such as David Leaf, Darian Sahanaja & Domenic Priore) watching our Smile vision. We would love to have a special screening for Brian & Van Dyke and if possible to make the film publicly publicly available.
This wonderful DAFT experience has taught us the wisdom in Van Dyke's message:
Brian himself is a living proof! It has been extremely hard work but also a very rewarding privilege to fulfill and celebrate one aspect of the Smile heritage. Giving Smile the full cinematic treatment has been the fairytale of our lives!"
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