A Right Pickle by Phil Codd is an independent film made in Hull and about, as far away from the bright lights of Hollywood as you can get. The premise: An inept journalist, travels to the North of England to investigate disturbing stories surrounding a group of eco-warriors, that go by the name the Gherkins.
Following ambiguous promotion and a less than revealing trailer, an expectant crowd at Kardomah 94 await curtain up on the premiere of A Right Pickle. The blurb attached to the film shed little light ‘ A Right Pickle, mockumentary about The Gherkins but dealing with ignorance and prejudice.’
A Right Pickle produced by Mollusc Films was eighteen months in the making and supported by the Kardomah 94 Donor Scheme. A philanthropic enterprise set up by K94 owner Mal Scott, to support individual and community based creative projects.
In a deliberate move by Director Phil Codd, none of the cast saw a full plan for the film, beginning to end. Throughout the filming, they were fed clues by him as to what was wanted in the scene. Then it was left for the characters to improv the action which is what you see on film. In this way Phil was able to maintain a layer of docu-realism with completely unscripted impromptu scenes; real people, doing real things, in real locations. This sense of immediacy and the one take approach gives the film a sort of low budget early Shane Meadows feel. The camera is very fixed, you very rarely get to see anything but what is directly in front.
Present, are all the ingredients of a good Dispatches style investigation; the obligatory undercover reporter stuff; interviewees with hidden faces; claustrophobic secret surveillance; clandestine meetings, but to what end?
With layer upon layer of misdirection, curve balls thrown down blind alleys, A Right Pickle keeps you second guessing throughout. To add yet more confusion there’s a dramatic irony set up: we know something early on that on screen they don’t.
Almost stepping out of the narrative, Phil’s love for his hometown is curiously depicted with hurried shots of local landmarks in musical cutaways, that while are filled with colour and humour are somehow at odds with the unfolding drama.
I said at the outset this film is also about prejudice and ignorance, but to tell you more would give the game away. I spoke with Phil Codd after the screening, to see how he’d gauged the reaction, but whilst being modest and affable throughout the interview, the result was less than revealing:
‘Shall I tell you the truth or shall I make it up?‘
‘They laughed at the bits I thought they would, and they laughed at some other bits too which was good‘
‘Yeah most people seemed to get it I think‘
‘I don’t know maybe some festivals…?‘
Could the Gherkins exist in another city, some place more anonymous? The litmus test for A Right Pickle, will be how it plays outside of the city, outside of Hull where gherkins are just known for being a crunchy vinegary burger relish.
A Right Pickle is a curious film but, it’s a clever idea and at just over an hour it is one for the more adventurous film festival programmer. So lift the lid, unscrew the pickle jar, you might just have a quirky little green gem from Hull on your hands.