While preparing for a house move I found the head of my husband’s first wife in a box.
When I met my husband he was married. To a woman called Eleanor Crabtree. She’d been part of his life since 2003 – when he invented her. For a few years she was the love of his life and then she became a curse.
The Curse of Eleanor Crabtree is James’ short film. It’s 10 minutes long and it took him nearly ten years to finish it. Or, one year for every minute of screen time.
He had a real cast and crew when he shot it in Brisbane in the summer of 2003. Then, as the years went by they slowly drifted away leaving James alone – with Eleanor.
She was initially intended to be a calling card for his work as a filmmaker, motion graphic artist and generally skilled geek dude. Soon life took over and the small pieces he showed of Eleanor were enough to land him paid work, and lots of it.
Eleanor became a weekend affair, and then once a month, and then, by the time we met, five years later, she was only ever taken out on holidays.
When we met I was producing short films myself so he talked about her to me a lot. He jokes that that’s why he married me – to guarantee himself a producer. He showed me the parts of her that were complete and we made a list of the things that still needed attention.
He had started with 150 visual effects shots on this short 10-minute film. Faced with the enormity of the now-solo venture James, with a little help from a some-what more ruthless producer/wife, scaled it down to 100 and, for the most part, did each and every one himself. He went back to spending weekends and early mornings with Eleanor.
And then the picture was locked. Everything that James could do himself was done. Everything the film was ever going to look like was completed. We just needed sound.
We made a couple of funding applications hoping to get the money to pay a new voice over artist (we had our eye on Hugo) and a post-production sound facility. The money never came.
Then, in 2011, through a paid gig, James met the fellas at Soundwaves, a highly reputable post-production sound facility in Melbourne. They liked him. And they liked Eleanor.
Giving us an extraordinarily generous deal we were able to complete the film out of our own pocket. They hooked us up with the music maestro, Brett Aplin whose Harry Potter-esque score gave us goose-bumps. They even wove some magic on the temporary voice over and voila…as much as we’d have liked Hugo, or Geoffery or Al Pacino, we didn’t really need them. Eleanor was done.
Now we had to show her off to the world.
In June this year the wonderful Kathleen McInnis of the Palm Springs International Shorts Festival invited Eleanor to screen at their festival. We were thrilled. Eleanor would have her world premiere in Hollywood’s playground.
Two weeks before we were to leave I realised that the trip wouldn’t be complete without Eleanor. So I went back to that box, which by now had moved house three times with us, pulled out her head and booked her into a beautician. She had to be shown off.
So the three of us took the 16-hour flight to California’s desert and paraded around town as the happy trio we were.
While I couldn’t be prouder of my husband’s achievements, I’m sure glad she’s out of that box. Bloody Eleanor. As Diana famously once said, “There were three of us in this marriage, and it was a bit crowded”.
The Curse of Eleanor Crabtree is a love story about a woman who cannot die.
You can read more about the film at www.eleanorcrabtree.com.