Isn’t it always the case that smaller, independent productions are often better than the mundane, repetitive blockbusters out there. Obscure and under-appreciated gems in the cinematic crown; doing something different and exciting, rather than just chasing big money. The people behind these kind of projects are always looking for just one thing: a platform to showcase their work. So when I received an email from one Kenton Hall, offering me the chance to review his new film ‘A Dozen Summers’, I was eager to help, and hopeful of finding another hidden treat in the maze of independent cinema. One watch of the trailer, and it’s very clear that this is exactly the kind of film which gives independent cinema a good name.
The film opens with the soothing, Attenborough-esque voice of Colin Baker (of ‘Doctor Who’ fame), narrating what looks set to be an adventure of two young children. But before he can begin to tell his story, he is rudely interrupted by the stars of the show, Maisie and Daisy (Scarlet and Hero Hall, respectively). Now in control, the girls tell their own story; a rather ordinary story as it goes, concerning the everyday trials and tribulations of 12-year-old girls. But hand in hand with ordinary, comes a sense of realism and honesty, which makes for delightfully awkward viewing as Maisie and Daisy introduce us to their stay-at-home father, their wandering mother and the friends and enemies they have made at school.
They may share the same surname as writer and director Kenton Hall, but make no mistake, Hero and Scarlet Hall are part of this film on merit. Both the girls are mature beyond their years, yet maintain an air of innocence and childlike naivety. Scarlet is, at a push, the more accomplished actress of the two and seems to lead the line ever so slightly due to her more sensible nature, but Hero is always ready to unleash her no-nonsense attitude and humorous edge to ensure she isn’t far behind. To carry a film at such a young age is an incredible achievement from the pair, and I’m sure they both have a bright future ahead of them. The brains behind the project, Kenton Hall, is fantastic as the girls’ caring, at times eccentric, father. His skill in the art of “dadness” is something to be admired, mastering the delivery of inappropriate and awkward comments that we all dread from a father.
I’m always impressed when I watch something which is so self-conscious and aware of what it is doing, and the way the actors interact with the camera in ‘A Dozen Summers’ is a fine example of this. Some of the scenes are overly theatrical and bordering on the absurd at times, which may be considered by some to be silly, for want of a better word. But 12 year old kids are silly. And guess what: so are adults sometimes. Director Kenton Hall may embellish his story with time travel and cameo roles, but it is all in the name of transmitting positive messages about family, relationships and sexuality, in a fun, light-hearted way. We could all do with being a bit more like Daisy; next time a bully tries to make fun of you or call you names, ask them to explain what is so bad about being gay and enjoy the awkward look on their face.
There are so many awkward, head-in-hand moments in this film, but that’s life. Not a day will go by where I myself don’t do something to embarrass myself. Life is more fun that way though. The ever-growing indie film community is one which I am proud to be a part of and one which I hope continues to thrive. With a film so delightfully real and refreshing as ‘A Dozen Summers’, I have every faith that this form of filmmaking is heading in the right direction. Now it’s time for a little plug for this wonderful little film – you can pre-order ‘A Dozen Summers’ on DVD here and get the pleasure of watching it at home. Believe me, you’ll be glad you did.
Director: Kenton Hall
Starring: Hero Hall, Scarlet Hall, Kenton Hall, Sarah Warren