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Watch: The Doctor Who movie being filmed in Cardiff

08 Apr 2024 8 minute read
Phillip Roy and Mandy Rose star in Dr Who meets The Scorpion. Credit: James Woodward.

A Doctor Who fan feature film described as a ‘passionate tribute to the classic ’70s and ’80s series’ is being filmed in Cardiff using local amateur actors and crew.

The movie titled ‘Dr Who meets The Scorpion’ is to be released as a non-profit film on YouTube purely for the pleasure of the fans to watch.

As of last month – 45 minutes of the 70 minute feature film is already in the can.

Now the makers of the movie have launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise the funds needed to complete filming.

Nation Cymru spoke to the multi-talented man behind the movie, Phillip Roy – the film’s writer, producer, director, production designer, and prop maker – as well as the actor taking on the role of the famed Timelord. (He also jokes he makes all the sandwiches for lunch!)

What is the back story to the project and how did it come about?
I’ve been a Doctor Who fan since I was 3 watching Jon Pertwee in the role. I self tape auditioned at home in 2019 for the Doctor role in a fan film but never heard back from them. So it spurred me on to write and produce my own film. Covid put things back a bit but we started filming last July. Just the odd weekend’s filming here and there but we now have 45 minutes of the story with about another 20 minutes to go.

Was it your intention to stay faithful to the character of Doctor Who and his assistants?
You have to do your own version of Doctor rather than try and copy Tom Baker or David Tennant but the character stays true and I try to give a nod to some of the previous Doctors with gestures and things they might say. The companion role has changed over the years. You can’t just have the character there to scream. Luckily Mandy Rose is a great actor and brings the character of Jennie to life. Yes, she gets scared but she gets the Doctor out of some difficult scrapes!

Phillip Roy as the Doctor and Mandy Rose as his assistant Jennie. Credit: Damian Chidgey

Are there any copyright implications in making something like this and how would you circumnavigate them?
There are literally hundreds of Dr Who fan films out there on Youtube. As well as Star Trek, Star Wars, James Bonds fan films. As long as you don’t try to make money out of something like Doctor Who that belongs to the BBC there has never been a problem. If you put it out on Youtube for free purely for the enjoyment of the fans then I don’t think the BBC is concerned. I’m not trying to compete with the BBC series and wouldn’t want to. How could we on our tiny budget? We’re trying to give a flavour of the 70s/80s series with a bit of the Peter Cushing Dalek movies thrown in as well. It’s my homage to the days of the classic series where the ingenuity of the designers faced with a tight budget produced some iconic sets and monsters out of nothing. Just like I’m having to do! That’s always been the charm of the classic series for me.

What is the plotline of Dr Who meets The Scorpion without giving away spoilers obviously?
The Doctor bumps into Jennie in a deserted warehouse at night, both there to find out more about the mysterious Scorpion company. They start to unravel a fiendish plot by the arch villain Scorpion and his right hand man Taylor which takes them from Earth to a planet far, far away! Thrills, spills, monsters, peril and adventure await them…and we couldn’t resist including the iconic Daleks as well!

Is your outfit all from your own wardrobe?
Yes, anyone who knows me won’t be surprised by my wardrobe in the film. I’ve always loved that 70s leather jacket look and raided my closet to come up with my Doctor’s outfit. For a man that can travel in his Tardis from year zero to the end of time, no clothes are retro, period or futuristic to him. It’s just what he thinks suits their character. Someone described the look as a bit of a Dennis Waterman Doctor in his Sweeney days which I loved. Although I won’t be chain smoking, quaffing Whisky at the Tardis controls and punching out villains!

What have been the biggest obstacles in making the film?
The biggest obstacle is my budget and also availability of the cast and crew which is why we film a couple of days on the weekend every couple of months. We can’t set aside a month of shooting as we all have day jobs and so far I’ve been financing the film out of my own pocket. Which means I have to save up a bit before we can continue. Through great kindness we’ve been given permission to film in a production facility and warehouse in Ely which has given our film some superb production values. But my budget is definitely more ‘Ely-wood’ than Hollywood!

Where did you find the rest of the cast and crew?
I’ve been so lucky with my cast and crew. As a Cardiff based actor I know a lot of South Wales amateur/semi professional actors and crew having filmed a lot of student films and independent short films and low budget features. We’ve had the same core team on the film since day one. This is my first time directing. I might have a particular shot idea in mind. Richard, our DOP/cameraman will usually better that idea. Because I can’t be behind the camera as well as in front, he sets up wonderful and inventive shots for me as he has more experience. He also puts great effort into lighting the set properly. Lighting is everything.

My actors are equally great! I’d worked with Mandy (Jennie) before and knew she was talented. I’ve loved working with everyone who has joined us on set. Our two villains are superb. While we don’t necessarily want them to ‘chew the scenery’ we do like them to nibble it a bit for that classic 70s/80s Doctor Who feel.

Something I’ve also tried to do with this film is give some young people who I know who are interested in filming get some on set experience as the Clapperboard person. They get used to the filming process and terminology and are encouraged to ask questions so in future they can apply for filming jobs with some confidence and experience behind them.

Phillip Roy as the Doctor and Mandy Rose as his assistant Jennie. Credit: Damian Chidgey

I take it there’s a certain irony in making this in Cardiff where the TV series is filmed?
I was delighted when Doctor Who was revived in 2005 and even more astonished when I heard they were going to film in my hometown. I’ve spent many a night standing on the sidelines watching location filming to get a glimpse of David Tennant or Catherine Tate. In fact it was Doctor Who that got me into acting and I eventually achieved my dream of working on the show as an ‘Extra’/Background Artist in a few episodes.

My script is also partly set in Cardiff so I could use the famous ‘Cardiff time/space rift’ plot from Doctor Who and Torchwood to get me out some sticky plot holes I was struggling with during the writing process.

Tell us about the crowdfunder and what it will fund?
I’ve been funding the film so far but my credit card is now on life support. We still have some big scenes to film as well as building an interior Tardis set. It certainly won’t be as lavish as the new BBC series Tardis set but I hope the fans will get a kick out of what we can achieve with some help from them. The reality is that most passion projects need a little support from some sort of crowdfunding. Set building, materials, catering, petrol expenses, costumes, making props etc all adds up. To give an example, I hired four polystyrene rocks from a prop store for dressing on our alien jungle set. That cost nearly £300 just for a weekend.

When are you ideally hoping to release the film?
I’d love to get the film out on Youtube for the fans to watch for the 61st Doctor Who anniversary this November. But failing that early next year. But nothing is set in stone. Post Production (colour grading/dubbing/soundtrack) can take a long time.

Phillip says this is technically his second time playing the Doctor. He actually played the 7th Doctor in portrait stills for the 50th Anniversary story ‘Day of the Doctor alongside Matt Smith, David Tennant and John Hurt’. It doesn’t get much better than that!

Donate to the Dr Who meets The Scorpion crowdfunder HERE

To find out more about the movie visit the Facebook page

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