Sue Dunderdale

TV & Film

At present Sue is preparing to develop and direct her film script Lonely Places.  Her last television was two episodes of HOLBY for the BBC.

Sue has directed many continuing dramas and drama serials, and drama documentaries. She has made ten short films some of which can be viewed in full on this page. These are Last Laugh (wrote and directed), Angel (directed), Mine (wrote and directed) Exposed (directed), and Help (write and directed). She is also in development for Loving Monsters by Chris Katic . There is a synopsis of both this film and Lonely Places below.

She is particularly proud of introducing new and exciting talents to the screen, she gave early television parts to Ian Hart, Johnny Lee Miller, Lyndsey Marshal and Rupert Evans. She has a reputation for the quality of the screen acting that she fosters.

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Last Laugh


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Synopsis: Loving Monsters

In the summer of 1814, Mary Godwin (16) and the married Percy Shelley (19) fall tempestuously in love.  Everyone and everything is against them. United against the world’s opposition and in their dreams of radical love they run away to war-torn France in search of endless revolution and happiness.

Their romantic idyll lasts for a brief moment and then they are rudely interrupted by Mary’s stepmother and her stepsister, Claire -come to take her back home. Mary stands her ground and to her dismay Claire decides to throw her lot in with the happy couple. Mrs. Godwin returns to London alone. The loving couple becomes an uneasy threesome.  Together they set off on Shelley’s quest to ascend the icy peaks of Mont Blanc; secretly he is hoping to meet Byron in Chamonix.  On the way he and Mary intend to find their true selves – free to love without interference from the grown-ups. But as they travel the journey turns into a nightmare – fear stalks them as they come across the war ravaged villages and starving, desperate villagers. As they struggle to survive, jealousy takes over the psyches of the two women, who engage in a vicious psychological battle for possession of the highly desirable Shelley.

Nothing goes to plan when you refuse to make plans – they get lost, soaked, lose all their money.  A rift develops between the “happy couple” and Claire begins to move in on Shelley. Mary’s teenage demons of fear and self-loathing emerge with a vengeance and Shelley transforms into the mad Frankenstein to her tortured monster.  Possessed by jealousy Mary urges Claire to have sex with a wild French deserter who threatens them – the threesome breaks apart-they lose each other in the wilds. Guilt ridden Mary searches for her lover and sister through thunder and lightning over storm-wracked mountains.

At last she finds them-together-making love. Her demons erupt and she becomes truly a monster and in a nightmare sequence pursues her lover and her rival across the peaks, howling for their blood.

Surely love can’t survive this!

Yet the morning finds the threesome in Chamonix, sullen and betrayed but still together. Mary has completely muffled her face to hide the monster she has become. At dawn, the next day she climbs the great mountain on her own, challenging the elements to take her life. Yet she survives and reaches the lake by the glacier.  There she confronts her own image and the ugly desires it reveals.  Shelley searches for her and when he finds her they strip their hopes and dreams bare in an heroic attempt to forge a new way of experiencing love.

Two years later, Mary, transforms her monsters of love, hate and desire into her great story- Frankenstein.


Detailed Synopsis:

Catherine arrives home from lecturing at the university where she teaches to find that Dorin, the Romanian builder, who is decorating her house, has left a new worker completing the job. Vlad, the worker, is 20 and speaks hardly any English.  When Catherine tries to communicate with him in Italian, he says he doesn’t understand her.

Catherine takes a not quite motherly interest in this handsome but isolated young man and keeps on with her attempts at communication. She introduces him to her cleaner, Elizabeth, when she arrives at the house, but Vlad keeps his distance, he’s not used to being close to black people and he has his own share of prejudice.

In the meantime, we discover Elizabeth in her other life, an illegal immigrant, held semi-hostage with her daughter, Naomi, and prostituting herself to pay off their debt and to protect her daughter.  As far as Elizabeth’s “boyfriend” is concerned the prostitution takes priority and Naomi finds herself, replacing her mother as cleaner for Catherine. So, it is that she walks into the house and comes face to face with Vlad.  With Naomi, who speaks Italian, Vlad speaks in Italian and the two form a strange alliance based on youth and intense loneliness.

Catherine grows more sensually maternal with Vlad, attempting to teach him English and feeding him whenever she can persuade him not to go back to the crowded room he inhabits far away in the suburbs. Meanwhile in her repressive household Naomi grows more and more resentful and angry. She hates the work that her mother is forced to do. When Elizabeth is abused by a customer, Naomi loses it with her mother and with the whole situation and their argument ends up with her running out of the flat. With nowhere to go she finds her way to Catherine’s house and hides in the garden shed.

The next morning, when Catherine has gone to work, Vlad finds her. These two isolated souls become lovers, their own precious secret in a world surrounded by rapacious adults.  When they are not making love in Catherine’s house Naomi observes Vlad at work.  She sees how careful he is with the caustic soda he uses for cleaning the surfaces. When Naomi returns home to her mother she finds caustic soda in a kitchen cupboard and impulsively puts some in the tea she is preparing for her mother’s “boyfriend”.

It’s late and back at Catherine’s house, she has persuaded Vlad to stay for a meal.  She drinks too much, and she makes a pass at him.  He is shocked and disturbed and he rejects her; she immediately feels humiliated but not as much as he does, he feels betrayed.  Catherine manages to rescue her dignity, she apologises to Vlad and persuades him he’s safe to stay in the spare room as it’s too late to travel back to his digs.

When Naomi arrives, running away from the murder she may have committed, Vlad again finds her hiding in the shed.  He waits until Catherine has left and the two of them decide they have to escape. There seems to be no solution for them with the adults they know, and they have to fend for themselves. They steal what they can from the house and take Catherine’s car and drive west.

In Cardiff they are taken in by more Romanian workers who help them to dump the car and carry on with their escape.  They take the bus through the countryside and find themselves in St. David’s, the final stop in the journey.  Drawn to the ancient cathedral they wander through the grounds and into the building. Vlad still clings to the religion of his parents, but Naomi has no time for God. Kneeling at the altar Vlad makes Naomi his wife although she has no time for vows made before an imaginary being.

They leave town and, by the coast, break into an empty holiday home.  Here they slowly begin to really fall in love.  Naomi loves the beach and the sea, but Vlad is afraid of the waves and the depth of the water, he can’t swim. She tries to entice him in and he tries to please her, but he cannot overcome his dread.

They don’t know how long they have before they are found by the police, but Catherine, full of liberal guilt at her treatment of Vlad, has refused to notify the police. Dorin cannot understand her and starts to make his own investigations.   When Catherine’s car turns up in Cardiff he makes his way there.

Although Naomi doesn’t know it, she has not killed the boyfriend but, whilst he is recovering in hospital, Elizabeth escapes from the flat and goes to Catherine for help. There she discovers Naomi’s mobile and they begin to realise that Vlad and Naomi are in some way connected.  Dorin continues with his search, getting closer to the runaways.

Vlad has managed to get a job at the local café and for a short time the two young lovers live a kind of honeymoon.  But Naomi is too worried about her mother to settle for long and she starts to fret about returning. Their idyll in the house is disturbed by the owner and although they manage to escape, they know that their time is up. Vlad tries to ring his family in Romania, but they will have nothing to do with him, Dorin has told them that he is a thief. The only person he has is Naomi.

Now they really are fugitives with no shelter. They spend one night sleeping in the café kitchen and early in the morning Vlad steals the little cash that is stored there. They make for Haverford West and only have enough money to buy one ticket-for Naomi.  She leaves on the train and he is left alone, no shelter, no money and cut off by his family. Without knowing what to do he automatically returns to the place where they’ve been staying. He is spotted by the owner and the police and runs along the cliff and onto the beach to make his escape. He manages to lose his pursuers, but he has nowhere to go, physically, but more importantly, emotionally and psychologically. He is trapped on the beach between the sea and the people searching for him on land. With the desperation of a lost soul he throws his jacket onto the rocks and walks into the water until, finally he disappears beneath the waves.

Back at Catherine’s house Naomi has been reunited with her mother and a lawyer friend of Catherine’s who is helping them to negotiate with the police and the Home Office.  Before they are interned, Naomi persuades Dorin to take her back to St. David’s to find Vlad. They search everywhere but cannot find him.  When they stop on the clifftop Naomi goes down to the beach whilst Dorin stays by the car smokes. As she walks along the sand she spots something caught in the rocks, it’s Vlad’s discarded jacket.  She realises what has happened, but she tells no-one.

Six months later Catherine and her lawyer wait at the immigrant detention centre to collect Naomi and Elizabeth. Naomi is pregnant and she and her mother climb into the back of Catherine’s car. As they drive away Naomi looks out of the back window and sees herself with Vlad in the sea, she fades away from the picture and she watches Vlad walk further and further away from her into the water.

© Sue Dunderdale 2014