Students urged to volunteer in film starring David Tennant

The University has invited students and members of staff to sign up as volunteer extras for the upcoming feature film Mad To Be Normal, a biopic starring David Tennant which focuses on Scottish psychiatrist R.D. Laing. Key scenes from the film are due to be shot on campus over the course of two days, 3-4 February (over Week 5).

The movie as a whole focuses on R.D. Laing’s controversial experiments at Kingsley Hall, the “anti-psychiatric” facility he created where there were no locks on the doors and no anti-psychotic medication was administered. Instead, the facility focused on meditation, all-night therapy and role-reversal sessions and regression to childhood.

Image: luthienanwamane

Image: luthienanwamane

David Tennant, who famously played the Tenth Doctor in Doctor Who and DI Alec Hardy in Broadchurch, is playing Laing and will be present on campus during the two days of shooting there. He will be joined by Elisabeth Moss, chiefly known for playing Peggy in Mad Men, as well as Gabriel Byrne (Dean Keaton in The Usual Suspects).

Enough volunteers will be needed to fill the 200-seat Scenic Stage Theatre on Heslington East, in the Department of Theatre, Film, and TV, where a scene of Laing addressing the audience with his radical views on psychiatry and the medical treatment of patients will be filmed. This scene will be shot on the Wednesday (3 February). Some volunteers will also be needed for further scenes on the Thursday on the university campus.

Paul Elkins, First Assistant Director for Mad To Be Normal, writes that “we anticipate a lot of interest from volunteer extras who want to be in the same room as David Tennant”. He also writes that applicants will mainly be chosen by their “having the potential to carry off a ‘60s appearance”. Though all students and members of staff are welcome to apply, a post on Facebook by the Mad to be Normal Student Liason Team adds that “we want to prioritize Students and Staff of TFTV as an opportunity to engage with professionals of the industry they are studying in”.

Those wishing to volunteer should apply through:
available to download through Google Drive, and send the completed document to [email protected] by 16:00 on Friday 29 January. As well as providing details about their contact methods and appearance, the form also asks for either a plain, labeled headshot or a full-length shot and headshot of the student in an outfit from the late 1960s or early 1970s.

Successful applicants who do not have appropriate outfits will be given access to some on the day, but those who do will be in with a chance of winning a cash prize for the most authentic: the winner will receive £100, with a £50 prize for the second-best and £25 for the third-best. All applicants will have refreshments provided on the day, and travel expenses of up to £5 will be awarded on the production of a receipt.

The University reminds its students that “degree studies must have priority before any extracurricular activities and missing timetabled sessions to work on this production will NOT be considered as an authorised absence. Please check the dates of any potential placements closely”.

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