Interviews

A Violent Man Interview: Craig Fairbrass – ‘It was very visceral and quick. I’d say most of the time in life, that’s how violence is’.

On the big screen, actor Craig Fairbrass is perhaps best known for his integral part within the Rise of the Footsoldier franchise. In recent years though, he has tackled even more brutal, complex portrayals that transcend his hard man persona. I was lucky enough to chat with him about his latest film A Violent Man, a prison drama written and directed by Ross McCall…

In A Violent Man, there are long sequences where the director Ross McCall ramps up tension without any dialogue. As an actor, how do you go about contributing to the tone and atmosphere with a very minimalist script?

Well, you obviously have an overall perception of the story. I’m quite intuitive when it comes to things like that. I knew what the mood of the scenes were, I knew what we were trying to portray, and how to move the story forward but to still make it interesting. With a look, you can say 1000 lines, so it was that type of thing. I think the energy of the opening sets up Steve Mackelson as the type of man he is. He’s not a man of a lot of words. As the film moves on and things are irritating him, he has to get his point across.

Continue reading “A Violent Man Interview: Craig Fairbrass – ‘It was very visceral and quick. I’d say most of the time in life, that’s how violence is’.”
Interviews · LFF21

Boiling Point Interview: Philip Barantini – ‘I wanted to make the audience the voyeur, and it added an extra layer of tension’.

Filmmaker Philip Barantini combined his experience working in busy kitchens with his time as an actor to craft his latest feature Boiling Point. It’s all shot in one continuous take and centres around a head chef played by Stephen Graham during a hectic evening at a high-end London restaurant. I was fortunate enough to chat with the director about the process of making this ambitious film…

I’m sure this is what everyone is asking about but as if getting a film made wasn’t hard enough in the current climate, you decide to do it in one take. Where did the decision behind this come from and are there any other one-take films that influenced this style choice?

Well, we did a short in the back end of 2018, and we did that all in one take. That was just 20 minutes. I’ve seen Victoria, Russian Ark, and movies like that so I knew it could be done. For me, the reason we did it in one take I think is because I wanted to throw the audience into that perspective of being in a busy restaurant, over that period of time and almost like making the audience the voyeur, and it added that extra layer of tension. I wanted the audience to maybe forget halfway through that it was a one take and be like ‘Oh my god!’ when they realise. Someone said to me the other day, which is the best comment I could ever get, that they hadn’t realised it was one take and that they’d need to watch it again! 

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DVD & Digital · Interviews

Settlers Interview: Wyatt Rockefeller – ‘Film is an emotional medium. Audiences don’t see something unless they feel it’.

Set on an evolving Martian frontier in an unknown future, sci-fi drama Settlers centres around a family’s battle for survival. As parents Reza (Jonny Lee Miller) and Ilsa (Sofia Boutella) try to build a life for their daughter Remmy (Brooklynn Prince), their home is threatened by mysterious stranger Jerry (Ismael Cruz Cordova) who is looking for answers. I took the opportunity to sit down with the writer and director Wyatt Rockefeller to chat about his striking debut…

You’ve had quite the journey to finally making your first feature, after lots of shorts, commercials, and docs and a break for politics too. What was it about Settlers that made you take the plunge?

 Well, when I first had the idea for Settlers, I was actually working on another feature to come off the heels of one of my shorts. I had the spark of an idea and then it all came really quickly. It hit me at a gut level which is a good sign! I mentioned it to a few producers including my wife who’s actually one of the producers on this, and the story really told itself. Within 15 minutes, I had the plot in my head right up until Jerry puts the gun on the table.

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GFF21 · Interviews

Creation Stories Interview: Dean Cavanagh – ‘McGee gave us carte blanche to do with it as we pleased and we certainly did!’

Flying the flag for bands such as Primal Scream, The Jesus & Mary Chain, and Oasis, record label Creation Records was founded by the iconic music exec Alan McGee. His amazing, drug-fuelled tale has been immortalised by director Nick Moran, with a script penned by Dean Cavanagh and Irvine Welsh.

I seized the opportunity to ask screenwriter Cavanagh some questions about the making of this madcap biopic…

Creation Stories is a celebration of not only Alan McGee himself but also of Creation Records and it feels very passionate about that period of time. What do you think was so special about that beloved ‘Britpop’ era both musically and personally for you?

I was in a band during that period and spent a lot of time in London knocking about with people who were classed as ‘britpop’ artists. I knew a lot of the movers and shakers but I wasn’t really a fan of the music. I was more into underground clubbing but the paths often crossed and it was hard to ignore all the success and excess if you know what I mean.

Me and Irvine were both part of the scene but kept managing to avoid each other.  My mate Paolo Hewitt was writing a book on Oasis so I got invited to a lot of the shindigs and was privy to it all. I loved Oasis’ first album. It really made a statement and put that indie spirit back in the charts. I knew Britpop was just a lazy media term so never really took it seriously.

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GFF21 · Interviews

The Toll Interview: Ryan Andrew Hooper – ‘Smiley’s timing equates as well to drama as it does to comedy’.

The directorial debut of Ryan Andrew Hooper has its premiere at Glasgow Film Festival. A comedy Western set in Pembrokeshire, The Toll tells the story of an unnamed toll booth operator played by Michael Smiley, and about what happens when his dark past catches up with him. I was fortunate enough to chat with Ryan about the film ahead of its release…

I see you have directed The Toll previously as a short film titled Ambition. How closely linked are the two and were there any major changes to the story for the feature-length version?

In terms of that, it was actually written as a feature before it was a short. We came up with the idea and the writer (Matt Redd) and I had this strategy around a short film scheme in Wales called The Beacons. We decided to make the short in order to apply to Cinematic for funding to make the feature! We ended up making a short that was nothing like The Toll. We had different actors, a different toll booth, and there was some magic realism in it.

Continue reading “The Toll Interview: Ryan Andrew Hooper – ‘Smiley’s timing equates as well to drama as it does to comedy’.”
cinema · Interviews

Lost at Christmas Interview: Kenny Boyle – ‘I don’t want to be the next David Tennant; I want to be the first Kenny Boyle!’

 

Taking place against the snowy vistas of the Scottish Highlands, Lost at Christmas is the second feature film from writer and director Ryan Hendrick. After both suffering personal setbacks and missing the last train back to Glasgow, Rob and Jen find themselves isolated together for a Christmas adventure. I was lucky enough to chat with lead actor Kenny Boyle about this festive, feel-good film…

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Interviews

Rocks Interview: Sarah Gavron – ‘We wanted to celebrate the joy of girlhood, female friendship, and its transformative power.’

In a male dominated industry, filmmaker Sarah Gavron flies the flag for female-led cinema. Her works tells important stories from a women’s perspective, and her latest feature is no different. Rocks is a high school coming-of-age drama set in the hustle and bustle of East London. The story follows the path of Shola (Bukky Bakray) after she and her little brother are abandoned by their struggling mother.

I watched it at Glasgow Film Festival earlier this year (you can read my review here) and grabbed the opportunity to ask Gavron some questions…

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Interviews

Calm With Horses Interview: Nick Rowland – ‘Everyone’s trapped by a selfish sort of love.’

Irish crime family thriller Calm With Horses marks the directorial debut of Nick Rowland. It tells the story of ex-boxer turned mob enforcer Douglas ‘Arm’ Armstrong played by rising star Cosmo Jarvis. Caught between his loyalty to the Devers family and his responsibilities as a father, he is faced with an impossible dilemma that will have life-changing consequences.

 At Glasgow Film Festival, I was lucky enough to sit down with the director Nick Rowland to discuss the film…

Calm With Horses is of course adapted from a short story by Colin Barrett. How did you come across the source material?

I first read the collection of short stories when I was still at film school, and I had been writing short film scripts…and they were terrible. I was trying to read people who actually knew how to do short form storytelling better. Young Skins is amazing and Calm With Horses is like the sort of centrepiece of the collection. It was about 70 pages, so it felt like a good-sized story to develop into a taut movie.

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Interviews

American Sausage Standoff Interview: Ulrich Thomsen – ‘We want to tell stories that will touch people. You learn, you grow, you become better, and then you die.’

Best known for his work in front of the camera, acclaimed Danish actor Ulrich Thomsen has moved behind the scenes to write and direct his second feature Gutterbee (US title: American Sausage Standoff). The offbeat indie plot follows ex-con Mike (Antony Starr) and ex-pat Edward (Ewen Bremner) on their mission to open a German sausage restaurant in small-town America. They encounter conflict from narrow-minded businessman Jimmy (W. Earl Brown) who is very much against the gentrification of what he sees as his land.

I had the chance to chat with Ulrich Thomsen about this very unusual project…

First of all, how did the idea for Gutterbee first come about?

The idea is from quite some time ago when I stumbled upon the history of the sausage. Some years ago, there was a 50th anniversary for these little hotdog stalls that we have on every corner in Copenhagen, and a journalist had been writing about the history of the sausage. What’s interesting about the film is that it’s all based on fact, and all the sausage trivia in it is actually true. I thought would be interesting to tell a story about bigotry, homophobia, and religious stupidity but around the history of the sausage where nothing has changed in 2,000 years. The movie is essentially about identity. Every country has its sausage.

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Interviews

Muscle Interview: Gerard Johnson – ‘There’s a swingers party sequence and my director’s cut is a little more graphic.’

Indie director Gerard Johnson’s latest movie is Muscle, a psychological thriller starring Cavan Clerkin and Craig Fairbrass. The plot follows out-of-shape salesman Simon who meets an intimidating personal trainer at his local gym. After its premiere at the BFI London Film Festival, I caught up with Gerard to discuss the film…

How did the London premiere go?

It was great! It was my first time having a film at London. I’m from London so it was nice that I finally got to play a film there. My previous two Tony and Hyena both premiered in Edinburgh, so it was lovely to premiere in London with Muscle. The three screenings went well and generated great word of mouth buzz, so it was everything I wanted from the festival really.

Where did the inspiration come from for Simon’s story?

Well I’ve been going to gyms all my life really, from the spit-and-sawdust ones to the more modern lifestyle ones. I’ve had this idea for a while of a personal trainer taking over someone’s life, and it remained a two-page treatment idea for years. Recently, in seeing how gym culture has exploded, it made me think that we’ve never really had a film about gym culture. Obviously, there was Pumping Iron, which is an amazing gym-based documentary but that’s more about Arnold Schwarzenegger himself. Nowadays, everyone is more health conscious and knows about nutrition, carbs, good fats etc. so it feels like a good time to shine a light on that world in the cinema.

Continue reading “Muscle Interview: Gerard Johnson – ‘There’s a swingers party sequence and my director’s cut is a little more graphic.’”