Stuart and Dumplings | Short film raising money for the DSA

Room 5064 and Bamalam are proud to announce that their new short film, Stuart and Dumplings, which was released today!


Set during the current Covid-19 crisis, and filmed under lockdown using Zoom video conferencing software, the film tells the story of Stuart (Sam Barnard), a young man who has Down’s Syndrome who’s receiving an online cooking lesson from his grandmother (Louise Jameson), with his social worker/care manager, Khadija (Mina Anwar), also in on the call.

You can watch the film below:

The ensuing conversation is both funny and moving, as it lays bare the stresses and strains of life in lockdown. Written as a direct response to the current crisis, the film is designed to be shot using only laptop webcams, with all cast and crew continuing to isolate throughout. Written by Ian Winterton, with input from actor Sam Barnard, who plays Stuart, the film is being made to raise awareness and funds for the Down’s Syndrome Association (DSA).

YOU CAN DONATE HERE

We are very grateful to the Stuart and Dumplings team for deciding to make the film freely available but asking their audience to donate to the DSA – thank you.


We were lucky enough to ask two of the stars some questions about the film:


Sam


How did you get involved with Stuart and Dumplings?

I did a play in Doncaster called Hunt the Tiger – I played the last person in the world with Down’s Syndrome. A writer called Ian Winterton came to see it and we got chatting afterwards. A couple of weeks later we were all in lockdown and Ian messaged me and asked me to be in Stuart and Dumplings and I said I’d love to.

What was it like filming in lockdown?

It was quite easy because we all did it from home. But it was different because we didn’t meet and we filmed it all on zoom. We got to know each other on zoom instead of meeting, so that was good.

Did you enjoy working with Louise and Mina?

It was great to work with Louise and Mina. They were lovely and very talented actors. I knew about their previous work and they knew about mine! The Director, Gemma North was really good at helping everyone to work in this different way. She is acting in The A Word at the moment.

What do you like most about acting?

I love getting inside the character’s head and the chance to be other people, sometimes like me and sometimes very different to me. I also like learning lines and I am good at it.

What is the hardest thing about acting?

Getting up early in the mornings! But I always get there on time, because actors need to be professional. It was great to film Stuart and Dumplings in my own kitchen,  so I didn’t need to get up early!

How have you found lockdown?

Lockdown has been OK for me. I miss seeing my friends, but I talk to them and in groups on zoom everyday, so I am lucky. I also do a show for Dover Community Radio called the Audiobox with my friends from Bemix and we record it every week also on zoom. So that is really good fun. My brother does some shopping for us and I take my dog Archie for walks in our village.

Can you relate to your character?

Yes, he’s quite bubbly and sometimes emotional and sympathetic. He has some good skills! I loved playing Stuart. It was such a lovely script.

Any advice for our readers?

Don’t forget to watch Stuart and Dumplings if you get the chance and donate to the DSA if you can! Stay safe and follow the guidance. Try to stay in touch with your friends and family by zoom or FaceTime or phone or message.


Louise


What was it like filming in lockdown?

I was quite nervous to be honest, but as the time went by, the atmosphere between us all was so supportive and generous, it ended up being a rather wonderful experience.  I think we all wished we’d had a little more time, but I’m very excited to see the end product.

Did you have to change the way you act?

The basics of acting always remain the same. Strong objectives, strong obstacles. Clear thinking. Some things are easier because of being static. Others more difficult, because you can’t touch, hug, form a relationship in a ‘normal’ way. Sam and I had never even been in a room together, and yet we have to pretend to love and care about each other. Although that part of it was easy really, he is such a charming and professional young man.

Did you enjoy working with Sam?

I loved working with him.  He was funny and clever and so easy going.  He held nothing up as a problem.  Let’s do the sequel!

 Have you ever acted with someone who has Down’s syndrome before?

I have worked with people who have Down’s syndrome before but as a tutor and director.  And MANY years ago I did a version of The Tempest for BBC 2 with only two non-disabled actors involved.

How have you found lockdown?

Extremely mixed.  I have reconnected with my Yoga practice and I walk for over an hour every day.  This I have LOVED.  I miss, terribly, hugging my children and grandchildren.  I have had some very low moments, feeling frightened for the world and for humankind.  But also the generosity of neighbours, the shining sun, the hours I have been allowed to write in peace and solitude have all been bonuses.

Can you relate to your character?

Very much so.  Until recently we had Sunday family Zooms which were vital for my well-being.  Rather more to do with the family reaching out to me than the other way around though.  It would be extremely worrying if you genuinely felt that a child or grandchild couldn’t look after themselves properly.

Any advice for our readers?

Do you mean about Lockdown?  I’d say have a schedule.  Try and accomplish one thing a day.  Even if it is clearing out a drawer in your bedroom.  So when you rest your head on your pillow you can look back on the day with a sense of time well spent.  Eat well, exercise well and phone someone you love if you feel at all low.

THANKS SO MUCH FOR THE EXPERIENCE OF FILMING THIS.  THERE WERE SO MANY LOVELY PEOPLE ON THE TEAM, AND THE SIGHT OF US APPLAUDING EACH OTHER AT THE END (MOSTLY ON MUTE) WITH ALL THOSE SMILING FACES ON ONE SCREEN.  IT WAS A JOY TO BEHOLD.


Thank you to Sam and Louise for answering our questions. And another HUGE thank you to the team for all their hard work making this film and raising money for the DSA! YOU CAN DONATE HERE