That was the Twin Peaks UK Festival 2017...Part 1
And what a fest it was! In fact it's a week after the fest ended and only now do I have the energy to share the crazy, exhilarating journey with you. I think I'm safe in saying that the 2017 festival was our most successful one to date, which is even more thrilling when I tell you that we put it together in the shortest time we ever had.
This year was always going to be a special one. After 25 years, 'Twin Peaks' was making a hugely welcome return to the world complete with original actors, new faces and, of course, writers David Lynch and Mark Frost, the former being at the helm of directing all 18 parts. The hype and excitement leading up to the May 2017 airing of 'Twin Peaks: The Return' just cannot be described, and even as I sat alone at 2am in the morning ready to watch the new 'pilot', I couldn't quite believe that I was about to visit this world again. In fact when the opening credits started and the camera moved over the trees, into the High School and onto Laura Palmer's photo, and the air was suddenly filled with that familiar haunting theme, my emotions got the better of me and I cried.
And I clung to that emotion, carried it with me, to deliver the best Twin Peaks UK Festival I could.
Two things were clear in my head. This had to be another big weekend event and this festival had to marry the worlds of the original 'Twin Peaks' and 'Twin Peaks: The Return'. I knew I wanted to return to Hornsey Town Hall Arts Centre as it really was the only place that had a labyrinth of rooms and corridors to be able to accommodate what was in my brain and the number of people I wanted to experience it. In my head I could see the festival and I could see the layout and I could feel the atmosphere and I needed to bring that out of my head and into the real world. And as 'Twin Peaks: The Return' continued to air, I could see the details that needed to be created.
First off, we needed the train car back. In 2015 we built a full size train car for the re-enactment of the murder of Laura Palmer and since then our believed beauty has been sat patiently in storage waiting to make her mark again. We needed the Black Lodge back. In 2016 we let the Black Lodge sleep while we concentrated on other set recreations, but we missed it so much we've vowed never to do that again! And we needed something that was going to give a big impact from the new show; there was only one choice, we needed to make the Glass Box! And I needed a damn good Production Manager.
After my initial Production Manager fell through, I was recommended to meet Nic Donithorne who I instantly liked and felt confident in her skills, I wasn't wrong. She delivered everything I asked of her under a lot of pressure and a strict budget! She also had a very calm head and was a good giggle when we were able to let off a little steam. As partners in crime go, she is definitely up there.
As we are licensed by CBS and Twin Peaks Productions there is of course a lot of do's and
don't's, especially this year, but we were supported wholeheartedly in what we were trying to achieve, especially by 'Twin Peaks: The Return' Executive Producer, Sabrina Sutherland who was always on the end of an email if I needed her advice or just wanted to run an idea past her. She was also a total pleasure to have at the festival but more on that in Part 2.
One thing I always try and achieve at the fest is the feeling of inclusion. Many Peakies come on their own from all over the world, and so it's very important that once the fans walk through our doors they are in 'Twin Peaks', and they are with family. It's something I've tried to install since the very first fest in 2010 and the Peakies are still the heart of the festival.
To enhance this family/friends feeling we decided to have more events within the event. So back came the Mulholland Drive Jitterbug Class, back came old favourites such as the Quiz, Twingo (Twin Peaks Bingo created and hosted by The Double R Club) and new for this year came Art Macabre and their Death Drawing Salon which we based in the Black Lodge. Art has always been a big thing at the festival and again this is all to do with celebrating the fans
and how Twin Peaks inspires them. Since 2011 we have had an Art Gallery at the festival where Peakies can showcase their work to each other. As you can imagine that has grown in popularity over the years, and so this year we took it one step further and let the artists create their work at the festival itself. Hosted by our lovely friend, artist Jon Attfield, who has long been associated with The Double R Club and Art Macabre, the classes were very popular and were a great distraction for those of all skill levels who wanted some quiet and focused time away from all the crazy goings on around the venue. They even had an extra guest when an urban fox decided to wander through the class and join in!
Being the superb artist that Jon is, I also asked him to design the T-Shirts and Mugs for this year. I knew I wanted to bring in some themes from the new season for these designs and so it seemed only naturally to go with the part that blew everyone away, Part 8 and the Woodsmen theme. Jon did sterling work coming up with many variations, all of which I told him to change! His patience with me and my brain should certainly be rewarded as well, but I know how important it is to get the T-Shirt right as this was the major keepsake of the festival for the fans. After going back and forth several times, we got it...and liked it so much
we created two variations of the design! Seeing the Peakies wearing Jon's design at the festival was a proud moment for us both as I knew the love he had put into this.
So piece by piece everything was coming together. Venue sorted, date set in stone, contracts signed, team getting into place, main set builds underway, thousands of donuts ordered and of course the main highlight of our festival, our guests from the show itself starting to confirm appearances. The first guest confirmed this year was Kenneth Welsh who played the former
partner turned enemy of Agent Cooper, Windom Earle. Now, not only is Ken Welsh one of my favourite actors but he also played my favourite character in the show. The character of Windom Earle is brilliant, deadly, funny and truly disturbing. Anyone who has seen Ken play Windom knows that he delivered this part with absolute precision and so I was thrilled when he agreed to come and play in London. I was equally devastated when he had to cancel after getting a job! But of course this is the way it goes. Our guests are working professionals and making a living has to come first, we get it, but Ken, your invite still stands!
Soon after Ken we confirmed Sherilyn Fenn who plays the sultry Audrey Horne and of course
returned to the role this year. Sherilyn has visited our festival before in 2015 and so we knew she would be a big hit with the Peakies, she is also a terrific woman with a wicked sense of humour so on a personal note, I was looking forward to having a giggle with her again. After Sherilyn came James Marshall which I was super pleased about. I've known James for a couple of years now and he genuinely is one of the loveliest people on this earth. As James had to cancel in 2015, it was even more special to know that he was coming to London and the cherry on the cake...err...pie....was that he agreed to play live for the crowd - something which went down a storm when announced to the fans.
After meeting the brilliant Sabrina Sutherland in Santa Monica (over the largest Latte I've ever had in my life), I invited her to be our guest at the festival and chat to the fans about the process of creating 'Twin Peaks: The Return' and working closely alongside David Lynch. This was a first for the festival. In the past we have always had actors as our guests so this was the first time someone from the Production side would be visiting us, and I couldn't have been more thrilled. As a producer myself I was looking forward to hearing about the journey of the show and actually Sabrina's career as a whole, and I knew I wasn't alone. Many people who come to the festival work in the business or have a very strong interest in how everything behind the camera works so I knew how popular Sabrina would be. An added bonus was that Make Up designer Debbie Zoller was also going to be in London working at the same time as the fest so now we had another non-actor to add to the line up too which I loved being that I dabble in the make up side of things myself, and when it comes to experience it doesn't get better than Debbie!
I soon confirmed Jake Wardle and Sean Bolger for the festival. Jake, who plays hero Freddie Sykes in the new show, lives in London and was only too happy to come and meet the fans, and Sean I had known for a couple of years after being introduced to him at a taco party at Kimmy Robertson's house! Both of these chaps are great company and I knew the fans would warm to them and their hilarious personalities.
If you have seen 'Twin Peaks: The Return' then you will know that one of the characters that just fell into the hearts of Peakies worldwide was Candie, charmingly portrayed by Irish actress Amy Shiels. When Amy said she was available to attend the festival we knew we had
to have her! She showed a wonderful enthusiasm for the show, the fans and both the US and UK festivals and from the moment she arrived, that never stopped, she was a real