#TBB10 With Adrian Scott of Mellow9 Productions on his powerful documentary ‘Trial by Fire – The Terry Dunnage Story’

Mellow9 Productions is an indie production company creating stories and content across all media platforms.

We caught up with one of its co-founders, Adrian Scott to talk about their latest project… 

1# Tell us about your latest project, Trial by Fire – The Terry Dunnage Story, who is Terry Dunnage?

Terry Dunnage is a lad from Northolt who in 2007 made national headlines when he was set alight by his mentally ill uncle whilst saving his girlfriend from him. He spent 3 months fighting for his life in hospital and actually died twice.  When he came out of hospital his road to recovery really begun as he battled his scars, depression, being addicted to sleeping pills, became a recluse amongst even greater tragedy which I reveal in the film.

2# What compelled you to want to tell Terry’s story?
It was a story so harrowing that you couldn’t make it up.  What Terry has been through and how he has come out the other side and set up the Terry Dunnage Foundation is nothing short of amazing.  It’s a story that you don’t come across every day so I simply had to tell it.

3# How did Terry find you, or vice versa?

Terry found me through a mutual friend – who had found me whilst I was filming the Saints and Sinners trailer which went to the Cannes Film Festival.  The mutual friend liked what I had done with that film so thought I could tell Terry’s story the best.
4# How did you go about setting up the process of a documentary like, what comes first, what’s most important?

First thing was to know the story I wanted to tell and decide how I was going to tell it.  It’s a powerful story but who could I secure as contributors and for me pre-production was key to all things.  Of course you can’t predict some things however with good pre-production it made the rest of the production run smoothly.

5# As the story is so personal and harrowing for Terry and those close to him, how did you as a filmmaker manage the production when it got emotional and potentially traumatic for those in front of and behind the camera?
I literally had to detach from them as ‘people’ and focus on my professionalism and my objectives.  It was tough but it was the only way I could get what I wanted to make a compelling film. It was tough though, and my first day was the worst as I questioned my humanity and empathy.  However, after the first day I grew into it they grew into me and the rest became much easier.  Of course, Terry’s friends and family were great to me and accommodated me, plus they had been used to talking about it which made it easier.

6# Also as with all things made for the screen, there has to be an element of sensationalism to capture people’s attention, how do you manage the need to attract the audience whilst being careful not to exploit the story?

To be fair I didn’t have to sensationalise it as it’s already a sensational story. Trust me when you see it you’ll think I did sensationalise it though.

7# Funding, funding, funding – how did you get this project to completion and was it difficult to get financial support?

The money was in place before I came on board.  Terry funded the whole documentary himself.  That doesn’t happen much so I was very lucky.  It’s was a small budget, but luckily I know a lot of people in the industry so I was able to do a lot with a little.

8# Tell us a bit about Mellow9 Productions and how do you see it evolving as a company?

Mellow9 Productions is my company which I co-own with my partner Alexei Nunes.  Therefore it is a black-owned company, which is still quite rare.  We work on visual storytelling and have been concentrating on writing and producing.  We contributed to films such as Victim (2012) as well as many other productions.   In terms of us evolving we are working on many exciting projects and want to be at the forefront or indeed part of the revolution of great productions, both black and universal.

9# The Black Panther effect, has it will it impact on the productions you work on?
To be fair we have always had aspirations to tell stories such as Black Panther, in terms of films that are all-inclusive.  I myself got into films because of comics, my brother and I have a collection of over 1000 comics including many Black Panther ones.   I identified with characters such as Falcon and Black Panther because although I loved the Marvel and D.C Universes there weren’t many black characters a young black comic book geek as myself could identify with.  Isn’t it great to see Letitia in this film?! I’m proud to have worked with her on her very first film.

10# What’s next and where can people watch the documentary and support Mellow9?

Trial by Fire is currently doing the festival route and it’s won x2 awards – The Golden Lion award best documentary at the London Film Awards and the Diamond Award best documentary at the L.A. Mindfield Film Festival.  We’re currently waiting to find out if we will be accepted into a major L.A. Film Festival. I’d say keep your eyes peeled for Mellow9 Productions as we are currently making waves which will soon create an ocean of its own and we want you all to say ‘I saw it happening’.

You can follow us on Instagram/mellow9productions



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