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An Attic full of Puppets


This documentary details the story of an extraordinary 94 year old puppeteer, Frank Mumford, and an attempt to get him back on stage for one last show.

The idea for the film came as director Richard Butchins and Gaia Facchini met Frank at his own birthday party a couple of years ago. En passant he tells them he used to do “a bit” in show business himself.

Frank with his puppet Zizi

As it turns out this was an understatement equal to calling the Beatles a band that is ‘not too bad’.

In the late 1940’s and 1950’s Frank, together with his late wife Maisie, created one of the most glamorous and successful marionette variety acts to ever grace a stage in Europe. They played prestigious entertainment venues all over Europe, including the Moulin Rouge, the London Palladium and the Sporting Club in Monte Carlo. People the likes of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Prince Rainer of Monaco, Jean Cocteau and Josephine Baker were his fans and friends.

When on top of this discovery Butchins and Facchini found Frank had cans of old film detailing various stages of his career plus an attic full of old puppets they knew this was a case of now or never. “We want to get the puppets out of the attic and back on stage where they belong,” says Butchins about the decision to make the film.

What are they trying to raise?

The two makers don’t like doing half work, and good on them. But it means they need to raise quite a sum to create a film of the standard they’d like it to be. The costs are estimated to be around $30.000 which is what they are aiming for on IndieGoGo. So far they have raised around $2500 and there are still 44 days left before their request runs out.

The money will mainly be used to hire a specialized archive researcher to find all the other archive film of Frank and his puppets (including clips with Laurence Oliver), transfer costs and license fees to use the footage, hiring camera equipment and lights and restoration of some of Frank’s attic-hidden puppets.

Frank and Masie with two of their puppets

The team pledges that if the full amount isn’t raised they will still go ahead, so please do not be put off by the grand total. The makers also welcome support “in kind”, so if you can help in anyway contact them now. There are loads of nice things you can get in return such as meeting Frank in person for tea and seeing the puppet show when it is shot.

Why we think this should be made:

If you watch the trailer and see Frank you know instantly that this has got to be done. A topic so fascinating, untouched and endearing you can see it win awards at festivals. “The skills of the marionette artist are slowly disappearing and Frank is a master in this vanishing art,” say Butchins and Facchini. DG could not say it better. This is pure historical documentation by means of a great entertaining story.

If you want to find out more and see the trailer, visit the campaign here or go to the Facebook page by clicking here (the page also contains more photos).


Written by

Alexandra Zeevalkink is a Dutch-born journalist living in London who founded DocGeeks in August 2011 in order to have a legitimate excuse to watch every documentary under the sun. She freelances for various publications and writes mainly about documentaries and the film production industry. When she is not blogging or watching films, she enjoys theater, photography and reading loads of books. She is always on the look out for potential partnerships with other creative minds.

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