The feature film “The Limelight”, produced on a scantily clad budget of 50,000 pounds by a former Mansfield financial adviser-turned-comedian Glen Maney launched online yesterday. It boasts strong UK talent in the form of Glen himself, Ricky Grover (Revolver, Big Fat Gypsy Gangster), Mark Monero (Wilt, Eastenders), and stand up comedian Patrick Monahan, winner of ITV’s reality TV contest Show Me The Funny.
Glen Maney wrote a script called ‘Tears of a Clown’ around 15 years ago after witnessing the plight of middle aged comedian Gary Shand and his struggle to make it to the top despite battling a marriage break-up, depression, alcohol dependency and oncoming mental issues caused by the depression. Glen said that “Gary was the inspiration and someone who summed up ‘the show must go on’ attitude of many comedians”.
He sold the option to the script to a production company in 2001, but the firm couldn’t raise the required £2m to make the film, on the back of the defunct National Film Council preferring to wave their magic wand at “more essential projects”, such as good old Harry Potter. As a result Glen, who started performing as a stand up comedian in 1999, was talked into taking a “leap of faith” to produce the film himself by Ricky Grover and film makers and friends Paul Anthony Long and Stephen Hammal. It took another five years of hard work to come to fruition. Comedians and friends of Glen since his early days in stand up, Patrick Monahan and Jay Sodagar, also agreed to join the cast and the first scenes were shot at the Comedy Cafe in London in February 2006.
Last night Glen and the team reached the summit of their 15 year uphill struggle as the movie got its official release, being distributed online via the company Distrify.
“The Limelight” introduces us into the professional culture of comedians, how they work, act, talk and think. It’s not tightly structured but concentrates on the main characters and Gary’s predicament. Virtually every laugh comes simply from people saying funny things that they know are funny. Throughout Maney ensures we connect with Gary’s entrapment, the duress of his life spiralling out of control, in a world where no display of weakness is allowed.
Here we find a man sadly isolated and bereft of confidantes and allies. When you depend on your agent and local barman for emotional support, you’re probably not getting the Freudian treatment you deserve.
The thing about “The Limelight” is that it is a real movie. That means adeptly written dialogue and effectively placed supporting performances. Maney trusts that his audience will find interesting what he finds interesting – the world of stand-up, the people in it and the people who are drawn to it.
Glen stars in the film as Gary Shand and if this doesn’t see him getting offers left right and centre I’d be surprised to say the least. It is clear how much he was committed to this film as he provides such a sincere, down-to-earth slant to the role.
Comedian Ricky Grover hits all the right notes as a mercurial hardman agent with an anger management problem taking it all out on Gary or his pooch. Funny man Patrick Monahan plays Sean Bollinger, a fellow comedian, who actually uses Gary’s own material on stage to greater effect, putting Gary on the receiving end of even more of Grover’s effing and blinding.
Actor, Mark Manero, who plays the local barman, Adrian, is Gary’s real shoulder to cry on and the banter between the two really helps provide insight into all of Gary’s problems. This takes a complete U-turn when new bartender Chuck, magically played by comedian Craig Campbell, provides the advice Gary so didn’t need to hear. It’s seriously dark stuff, but Glen really knows how to see the funny side of alcoholism and suicide. Another small role worthy of mention is Jay Sodagar who is inspired as Gary’s landlord. The POV style used for some of his and Craig Campbell’s scenes are great and should have been filmed in 3D for IMAX screenings!
You’re probably asking how the movie fares, given its budget limitations. The truth is, there’s no denying right from the word go you can tell this was filmed on a shoestring budget, but, the team really has made the most of what resources they had to work with. Sure, some transitions have an amateur feel to them but they give it an almost mockumentary touch and in no way do any disservice to the film. One trick had me rather bemused: Some sped up scenes are what can best be described as a Benny Hill/Paranormal Activity hybrid lovechild. I can’t explain this any better than that so you’re just going to have to see the film to see what I mean.
There’s also some breathtaking bad taste, and some big laughs. Many a movie is remembered for a standout scene and “The Limelight” is no exception. What can best be described as the “Kebabsturbation” scene is to “The Limelight” what Mr. Blonde’s ear hacking scene was to Reservoir Dogs. That’s not to say it’s a one trick pony. Far from it, but it’s something I’m sure a lot of critics will pick up on.
The music, provided by Ricky Stanbridge and The Almighty Chancers, was a wise choice. It is positively energetic and helps serve to make even the scenes where Gary is at his tether’s end a joy to watch.
To sum it all up, part tear-jerker, part life-affirming comedy, The Limelight propounds the degree of pain that unemployment, alcoholism and alienation can cause. Maney manages to encapsulate how truth is not the enemy of comedy but its fountainhead. No-one can turn grim into grin like the Brits can. Just take a look at movies like “Brassed Off” and “Wilbur (Wants To Kill Himself) for fine examples.
Glen Maney says he has a few more scripts up his sleeve and he is also working on a project with Director, Malcolm Mowbray who co-wrote and directed the movie “A Private Function” many moons ago, having been involved in a great deal of film and TV projects. Nothing is set in stone but if Glen’s first project is anything to go by, he will be a comedy force to be reckoned with and I am eager to see how well “The Limelight” fares with both UK and foreign audiences.
Please check out the trailer below and you can either rent or buy it right here.
Here is the IMDB link.
For more information about Glen’s film visit thelimelightmovie.