Pretty Bonnets

Once apon a nowadays, a babywear designer turns vigilante.

Once apon a time, in a world where public services are collapsing from cuts, baby-wear couturier Christine has sold her home to open But when burglars break-in and the police won’t come. Christine has no choice. She has to go down and stop them!

  • Mick Dow
    Hope in a Box, Interference.
  • Mick Dow
    Interference, Hope in a Box.
  • James Browning
    Kidnap Me, Lifetime Guarantee, Working Lunge, Santayana's Passage
  • Goldy Notay
    Key Cast
    It's a Wonderful Afterline, Beecham House
  • Becky Black
    Key Cast
    "PC Wilson"
    Hope in a Box
  • Sharon Facinelli
    Key Cast
  • Taryn Kay
    Key Cast
  • Emelie Sarrami
    Key Cast
  • Clifford Hume
    Key Cast
  • Sacha Mandel
    Key Cast
  • Project Type:
  • Genres:
    Action, Adult theme, Asian narratives, BAME, British Culture, Comedy, Crime, Dark Comedy, Drama, Fantasy, Female Protagonist, Horror, Indian Narrative, Live Action, Narrative fiction, Satire, Short Film, Thriller, Urban, Female Narratives
  • Runtime:
    14 minutes 59 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    September 30, 2019
  • Production Budget:
    16,000 GBP
  • Country of Origin:
    United Kingdom
  • Country of Filming:
    United Kingdom
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • Barnes Film Festival
    United Kingdom
Director Biography - Mick Dow

Award-winning writer, director, and comedian, Mick Dow was born in Scotland, brought up in Yorkshire and now lives in London.

Beginning as a street performer in Covent Garden, London, Mick went on to UK tours and regular TV appearances with his own take on visual comedy ‘Men in Coats’.

The catalyst to international acclaim came when a fan in the Netherlands posted a video of ‘Men in Coats’ on YouTube. It went viral, and for the next 12 months ‘Men in Coats’ were in YouTube’s top ten most-watched comedy videos worldwide.

With funding from the BBC and WDR, Mick created a live-action TV comedy-drama based on the ‘Men in Coats’. Filmed by Aardman Animations it was broadcast on the BBC and German TV. Inspired by the process, Mick has been making films ever since.

On completing his diploma from the London Film Academy, director Nic Roeg, singled out Mick's graduation for praise, commending it’s ‘considerable humor and a witty resolution.’ In the same year, Mick also wrote the multi-award-winning short ‘Interference’. (Best Student Short - London Short Film Festival, Prix de la Troix Biff 2014, Best Film 2014 Shorts on Tap)

His most recent film, the dark comedy, ‘Hope in a Box’ went on to win several awards, including Mark Kermode’s Best of Fest, Isle of Man 2018.

“I hadn’t seen anything like it before, I just loved it and it really made me laugh.”
(Mark Kermode)

Mick is a hands-on director, who builds his own sets and takes on much of the art direction in all his films. He has art directed several films including the short film 'Lifetime Guarantee’ (Directed by ‘Pretty Bonnets’ DoP Johnnie Ford) for which Mick won Best Art Direction at the Durham Student Film Festival.

Mick is presently developing a feature script and a TV series.

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Director Statement

Written on the board in my General Studies class, age 14, was the following question.

“We do not have a criminal justice system to protect us from criminals. We have one to protect us from ourselves. Discuss.”

Its irony has always stuck with me and seems all the more relevant today.

When I began writing Pretty Bonnets it was a time when the country was suffering the largest cuts in public services since wartime. The austerity cuts, as they became known, had cut police numbers by 20,000 and closed 600 police stations. My neighborhood saw an explosion in burglaries and street crime. 10 houses were robbed in the previous 2 months. My adjacent roads set up a Neighbourhood Watch scheme and guys were taking ‘walks’ to monitor the area.

On finishing Pretty Bonnets the same Government has been voted back in. Street Crime is at the highest it’s been for decades and people are so divided by brexit it seems impossible for us as a nation to have a serious discussion about our problems.

By writing dark comedies and satires I do not mean to trivialize the issues. But when people are so divided in their views you can’t just shout at them, you have to bring them with you and I want to do that with story and humour.

Researching for stories, I looked in two directions. I was looking at the news, looking for short pithy stories about ordinary people, and at the same time, I was reading Grimms Fairy Tales. The more I read them, side by side, the more I saw their similarities. Both were fascinated with the very worst of humanity. Stories of monsters and murderers, jealousy and lust, infanticide, sexual predation, stories of untold wealth and absolute poverty. Running through both fairy tales and the news was a deep fascination with tragedy.

Tragedy is difficult to play in a film, it can so easily be cloying. Unless you sugar-coat it. Then it is perfect for dark comedy.

The germ of the story came from a news article about a guy who watched three burglars stealing the computers from his office. He was alerted at home on an app on his mobile, but when he called the police, because of cuts, there were no police officers available and nobody went down. All he could do was sit in frustration and watch the three bungling burglars rip his office apart.

I was immediately attracted to the scene of seething fury in his testimony. With the three bungling burglars it already sounded like a fairy tale, all that was needed, was “What if he went down?”

Re-imagining a news story as a fairy tale offers so much scope for metaphor and irony. This was not a re-telling of Sleeping Beauty, but a story of its own. And now, with all the fairy tale themes and imagery to steal from, it was perfect for a dark comedy.

We cast the business owner as a woman, which allowed us to turn the damsel in distress story on its head. We carried on casting all the lead roles to women and any character that appeared even mildly passive, we cast as a man. Poor Cinderella waiting for her Prince becomes Christine, an entrepreneur seamstress, risking everything to start a new business and when prince charming, aka the police, doesn’t come, she has it covered.

The script was written as a straight story. I didn’t write comedy gags into the script, preferring to find the comedy in the situation with the actors. The fairy tale form allowed us to tell a complex story in a very short time. By playing scenes as vignettes we keep the pace up and keep the audience guessing. Also, it was within the vignettes, I hoped, we would find much of the comedy.

Pretty Bonnets has been a mini-feature film in ambition. To be true to the fairy tale form we had to build the world from scratch. A large art department was required and several sets had to be built. The film became a work of collaboration: every department, from costume through to the composer, adding more detail and refining the world. The budget was tiny, at times I had to give up my living room to build a set, but the opportunity to work on a film with so many layers and with so many other artists has been a pleasure and an obsession.