Risky Business Supporter and professional actor, Sam Barnard, recently co-wrote and starred in a new film 'Stuart and Dumplings'. Director of Ethics and Communications, Louise Allen, interviewed Sam to find out more.

"Set during the Covid-19 crisis, and filmed under lock-down using Zoom video conferencing software, the film tells the story of Stuart, a young Doctor Who fan with Down's Syndrome who's receiving an online cooking lesson from his grandmother, with his social worker/care manager, Khadija, also in on the call. The ensuing conversation is both funny and moving, as it lays bare the stresses and strains of life in lock-down. 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 was being made to raise awareness and funds for the Down's Syndrome Association." - Film summary from IMDB.com 

Louise - Could you tell us how you got the role of Stuart in Stuart and Dumplings?

Sam - While I was working on a play called “Hunt the Tiger” in Doncaster, I got chatting to a writer , Ian Winterton. A few weeks later when we were all in lockdown he phoned me and asked me if I could plat Stuart in “ Stewart and Dumplings” and he sent me the script and I sent back some suggestions and comments. I loved it.

Louise - What was it like to work on a film in lockdown?  How did it compare to working on a film in person?

Sam - Learning the lines and getting into the character was the same as usual, but we filmed it all on Zoom . We were all in our own homes. The Director, Gemma North, was really helpful to everyone . It was strange not to meet any of the other actors in person. So we needed to get to know each other quickly by video link. Louise and Mina were both lovely. Did you spot the little Dr Who references? Louise was in Doctor Who in the 1970s and Mina was in the Sarah Jane Adventures which was a spin off series of Dr Who! We filmed the whole thing in about 4 hours and that is very quick even for a short film. In most films or plays the relationship between characters is developed by the actors in rehearsals and by meeting but we couldn’t do that in lockdown, but I think it worked very well.

Louise - When I watched the film, it felt like there were lots of messages in it about loneliness, protectiveness, fear and independence.  It also felt like lots of those things were not directly talked about by the characters.  For example, to me, it seemed like Khadija had symptoms of Coronavirus but this was not talked about.

What messages do you think the film was trying to get across?

Sam - Yes I think it was about all those things. Stuart was independent but needed some support and he and his Grandma were worried about each other, but trying not to show it. Kadija, the Care Manager was under pressure, trying to look after lots of people and she was also not well. Maybe she had caught Covid 19. So the film was also sort of about the pressure social care is under.

Louise- The film was made to raise awareness and funds for the Downs Syndrome Association. Can you tell us a bit about the Downs Syndrome Association and what it means to you?

Sam - The Down’s Syndrome Association gives information and support for children and adults with Down’s Syndrome and their families. It also supports research and runs programmes like Workfit and learning programmes. I have been a member since I was a child and I suggested we use the film to support  it.
You can read further interviews with all cast members on the Downs Syndrome Association website.
Watch the film here.