Big Chimp

M J Logan-Benn

Role:Carl Denim
Crew:Additional City Footage


1.Where are you from?
Originally from a town called Fenham, which lies in the west-end of Newcastle upon Tyne. Close to the city centre this town holds some of the principle districts of student community and is home to Newcastle General Hospital where ‘yours truly’ was born many centuries ago!

2.How did you get involved in Big Chimp?
Generally through association with Henry and his ongoing legacy of film productions, but mostly because I wanted to be involved and nobody else was going to ‘touch the role with a barge pole’. Essentially I was cast to the role because nobody else wanted it.

3.What filmmaking experience did you have before making Big Chimp?
I had made occasional appearances in other film productions through association with Henry (Foiled Productions) in various character roles, but my principle experience with acting came from the stage over a number of years and performances.

Acting is one of the few things that I actually have a genuine ability for and given a professional opportunity I’m sure I could make a complete mess of it!

4.What was the most difficult thing about playing Carl Denim?
Attempting to sound something vaguely American and maintaining a consistency of voice was tricky and the results speak for themselves…

[At this point the cosmos holds its breath!]

My principle issue, however, was delivering spontaneous or near spontaneous dialogue during my scenes. I’m not much given to ad lib delivery and it’s either complete over-the-top garble or nil so I just ‘put my foot to the floor’ and went for it every time during takes.

No doubt my exuberance made matters interesting for the editor!

5.What's your favourite film featuring an ape / monkey / gorilla / chimpanzee / orangutan, and why?
For as much as I love the original ‘King Kong’ and Peter Jackson’s admiral and inventive remake of 2005 the 1968 film classic ‘Planet of the Apes’ (by director Franklin J. Schaffner) remains for me the truly quintessential simian film.

If we read ‘big’ for ‘highly evolved’ then we have big chimps, gorillas and orangutans in this film – a medley of simian culture.

A great deal has been said over the years about the much celebrated ending to this film, but there is a little room left for a few thoughts of my own: the story does not come to a conclusion it comes to a dead-end and in that moment lies the brilliance.

Planet of the Apes coastal finale remains for me one of the emptiest film-endings I’ve seen and despite the plethora of follow-up sequels and spin-offs this is where the story ends for me… there is nothing else.

6.Tell us a fascinating fact about yourself.
God, that’s a tricky one! Fascinating may mean a great many things and is usually an outsider’s opinion so you’d have to seek someone who knows me for a heads-up on that one.

There is one thing I could mention, though I doubt it will be received without amusement.

I like to keep abreast of developments in contemporary physics and the most pressing questions that are presently under debate. One of these questions concerns the apparent high degree of fine tuning and balance of physical laws in our universe. One of the possible solutions to this bio-friendly state of precision is what is clumsily known as The Anthropic Principle, which, amongst other idea, suggests that our entire universe may be a simulation.

If true we are all participants in this simulated reality. Not quite really ‘The Matrix’ as we are not plugged-into anything ‘out there’ – we simply are what we are as participants within the system.

So, why then does this make me fascinating?

Well, only in-as-much that I’m given to believe that it may be true. Apart from addressing the specific concerns of The Anthropic Principle a simulated universe may well account for a few other phenomena.

Other fascinating asides?... Hmmm!

My one true talent is getting on people’s bloody nerves!

7.What have you been up to since filming Big Chimp in 2006?
Since a kid I’ve enjoyed a restless imagination and have been given to moments of acting when the opportunity allowed (and sometimes when it didn’t!)

Curiously enough I was in the rehearsal period for a November stage performance of Alan Ayckbourn’s ‘Revolving Doors’ at the time I was being filmed in Big Chimp and nearly left behind my stage-play copy in Manchester.

I have doodled, painted, crafted, designed, scribbled, attempted music (badly) and produced a number of short films over the years – anything of a creative leaning, really, with mixed measures of success but nothing really ground-breaking.

8.Any plans for the future?
O God, yes!

As I mentioned earlier I have always found time to immerse myself in creative stuff and have found a strong sense of freedom and experienced a lot of magic when success has occurred over the years. This will continue for me like some form of chronic illness.

I’m presently putting together film-plans for an imaginary trailer to be shot early this year. The trailer will touch upon the key story elements that collectively form part of a bigger ongoing project called: Boltzmann.

Without giving too much away (we wouldn’t want to do that) the story focuses on the activities of a secret Government department who amongst other things monitor the stability of time and the uneasy shifts of reality that occur when that stability is compromised. But that’s all I’m going to say for the moment. I expect to have the trailer on YouTube by the end of March [2012].

9.What's your favourite memory from the Big Chimp shoot?
Aside from the merciless attack of aggressive, rampaging tribeswomen I’d say that my true favourite memory would have to be the use of the Ken-Barbie doll as a scale-downed version of Captain Matterhorn (as played by Peter Kidson). The comparison is not so much inaccurate as it is ridiculous, which just adds that special moment of genius to the ongoing medley of nonsense, surrealism and back-to-front humour.

If I may be forgiven for indulging one personal contribution as a fond memory then it would have to be the moment I disappear back-stage to face a decidedly downbeat Ann Sparrow (Sharon-Louise Campbell – her expression really was priceless) and vexed Theatre Manager (Andy ‘Serkis’ Purvis) and utter with reckless abandon:

‘Where the hell is everyone?!’

It is a line that sums up the lives of all the key characters in play: bloody hopeless!

So much for Carl Denim’s career…

‘Goodnight, Carl! And don’t forget to turn-off the lights!’


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