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netribution > features > interview with alan maloney > page one
For the past year at the Ardmore studios in Ireland, some of the world's greatest directing and acting talents have been working on a project of mammoth proportions. Samuell Beckett is well known for Waiting For Godot and Happy Days - widely regarded as some of the most important plays of the twentieth century - but the playwright penned seventeen others, many of which are scarcely known. Now, in a co-production deal between the UK's Channel 4 and Ireland's RTE and the Irish Film Board, theatre director Michael Colgan and producer Alan Maloney have attempted to translate each of Beckett's plays for the screen. Rather than tackle the gargantuan task themselves, Colgan and Maloney gave each play to a leading TV or film director. Directors as diverse as David Mamet, Damien O'Donnell (East is East), Atom Egoyan, Neil Jordan and Anthony Minghella have joined the project. And the cast of actors involved is equally impressive: Gary Lewis, Alan Rickman, Julianne Moore, Kristin Scott Thomas, Julliet Stevenson, Michael Gambon, Harold Pinter and David Thwelis star, alongside Sir John Gielgud's last performance before he died.
So with 19 productions shooting solidly for twelve months to create eleven hours of screentime, the Beckett on Film project is one of the most ambitious in recent years. Not to mention juggling the collective talents (and egos) of some of cinema's brightest and best - all on an ultra-tight budget of £4.5 million. We speak to producer of the project Alan Maloney to find out how it was done.

| by nic wistreich |
| photos taken from the film|
| in london |
How did you attract such strong teams to the project?
It was slow to get going, in that people laughed at what we were trying to achieve, saying it couldn't be done. Then gradually one by one, word got out, and we got people interested, then attached. That in turn changed the perception of it.

Was it easy getting approval from the Beckett Estate?Michael (Colgan, the other producer) had worked very closely with the estate, he had actually known Sam quite well. It was a very important relationship, it facilitated the deal.Was it always intended that you would do all of the plays?Yes, that was the point to it. It was a very difficult project to piece together on all levels especially the financing. And one of the difficulties we had with financing it was convincing people that the way to do it was to do all of the plays, that there was no point in just financing some of them.Did the directors of each piece have to stick to the original text?Yes they did. Essentially what they couldn't do was rewrite what had been written, but saying that, they had choices about how they could contextualise the writing. A lot of it is quite strictly described in the script, but they did have the freedom to create a world that was in keeping with what Beckett would want of the piece but that was also their own. Obviously each director/producer team had complete control over casting, art direction, photography and so forth. Interpretation is not the right word, but they were visual interpretations. There was a lot of flexibility within that, but they weren't allowed to rewrite anything to - although although I don't think anybody working on it wanted to.Are their consistencies from piece to piece?There are obviously a few basics such as titles. But visually, they could do anything. You can see in each piece the personality of the director, in an acute way. There is a consistency in terms of the shape of the titles that open and close each of the films.


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