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Friday, 18 May, 2001, 14:43 GMT 15:43 UK
Stuart's suave success
Suave Bastard
Nathan (David Ashdown) has a dream
By BBC News Online's Tim Masters

While British films may be lacking in the Cannes competition, there's at least one big success story on the sidelines.

At the age of 23, UK producer Stuart Fenegan's short film Suave Bastard was picked by Sony executives for daily screenings at Cannes - just three days before the festival opened.

David Ashdown in Suave Bastard
Not so cool: Nathan's true self
Fenegan, who is in his final year of a film degree course at the University of Greenwich, London, put his exams on hold when he heard about his big break.

"My dissertation was due in yesterday at 12 noon," he says. "It means I won't get my degree this year, but it was worth it coming here. It's been an extremely good experience."

Nerd

Suave Bastard, which was directed by Darren Bailey, tells the story of Nathan - a nerd who thinks he's a stud. A night on the town turns to disaster when he ends up in bed with a bored housewife with a large and angry husband.

Stuart Fenegan
Stuart Fenegan: No degree, but an awful lot of kudos
Fenegan wrote the script a year ago, took out a 3,000 bank loan and borrowed all the equipment and skill he could muster.

But he asked everyone who worked on the film to provide accurate quotes for what they would have charged - the final bill came to 105,000.

He even managed to get pre-post production by offering his film as the test for a new editing system.

"I've had to be flexible," says Fenegan, who got his cast via an advert in The Stage newspaper.

"I got 150 replies by post and 90 people turned up for an open audition. It was exhausting.

David Ashdown and Daz Crawford in Suave Bastard
If your name's not down...
"I saw every one of them but I ended up with five main characters who were perfect for the parts."

Fenegan pops up on screen briefly himself as a nightclub barman.

Aerial opener

Fenegan is clearly thinking big, even for a 14-minute film: one scene has 170 extras for a choreographed nightclub scene, and there is an opening helicopter shot over London.

What also makes Suave Bastard unusual is that it was shot on high definition digital film.

Suave Bastard
The movie was made using high definition digital film
"It's the same format George Lucas is using for Star Wars: Episode II," says Fenegan.

Up on the big screen the film quality is remarkable, and there are some complex effects for a film with such a small budget.

Three days before Cannes, Fenegan showed the movie to a Sony executive who was so impressed he decided to screen it every day at the festival.

Like many short film-makers, Fenegan has his sights set on producing a feature film.

"I could direct as well but that's not what I'm best at - I'm a producer," he says.

Having got this far at the age of 23, Fenegan looks set for success, with or without his degree.


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Films in focus

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04 Aug 00 | Entertainment
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