How did you manage to do 50 odd videos in 3 years?
N. - Well, when we started out the three of us were a directing team of sorts. On one day there would three Hammer & Tongs videos being made, say one in America and two in London.G. - It was a great time and no one really knew which of us they were going to get, there was a much higher turnover of videos because it was all under the Hammer & Tongs name.N. - We would tend to decide who would do which job on their style or who had the original idea but it was such an exciting, experimental and an enthusiastic time. It was a great way to build up the showreel. I've stopped directing now and Dominic and Garth are directing under their own names and have been for two years now.G. - It ended up that way after we'd defined our roles within Hammer & Tongs, I realised that I was a hopeless editor and that mine and Dom's styles were so different that we couldn't direct together.N. - We are now developing a film together.
Did you get one big break that sparked off other contacts?
N. - We left St. Martins, like a fool I set up my own production company from my house, through my own bank account - bigger fool. I had a lot of directors from college and we had a video for Omar that had a big budget - something like £20,000, we were very excited, the whole crew and all the equipment was at my house. Filmmakers! (roars!) The phone rings, its the record company telling me that they are pulling the job but it was OK because we still had the first 50% in the bank. It was fine because the costs were covered so I went back in the room to tell them the bad news. The next day the bank phones me and says that I've a small problem: the record company had bounced the cheque and hadn't told me! (laughter) This chap called Gavin Piggott who runs Red Star films came in to help me out, he got me the money back and told me that I was crazy because he had a production company to do the shoot through.After that we did a job, then became Hammer & Tongs and we were with Red Star for three years.G. - It was having someone to take the risk for us that allowed us to do so many.N. - Doing those 50 videos was schooling for us, we learnt a lot.G. - And meeting crew members and caterers that you click with and you begin to build up this extended family.N. - We always wanted our own company. After we did the Pulp video, Help The Aged, we felt confidant enough to run things our selves, Gavin knew from day one that we'd want to set up on our own.
How did you come up with the name, Hammer & Tongs?
G. - The whole point was to have a name for all three of us and from our experiences of the video commissioners offices with wall filled with videos, we needed a name that would stand out among those tapes. We had pages and pages of stupid names.
N. - Anabolic Whippet. (laughter)G. - One word names like, Biscuit or Wafer! (laughter)N. - Hammer & Tongs was the only name we didn't all hate.G. - I sounded like a firm of stupid accountants and its connotations seem to fit as well.N. - There was a great bit in Eastenders when Ricky said, "we were goin' at it 'ammer 'n tongs!" so we pinched that and put it at the beginning of our showreel! (laughter). And it looks good in a logo.
Tell us about the movie.
N. - Well it will open with "A Hammer & Tongs Production", perhaps said by James Earl Jones but he's really expensive.
Well he did The Simpsons for free.
G. - Well everyone does them for free, they are under their agent's orders! (laughter)N. - W are working on a couple of films at the moment and Garth is directing both of them. The first is a really big, exciting film set in Space in the near future and, as crap as it sounds, that's all we can say about it. We are developing it ourselves from a draft that we are pretty happy with but that's been going on for about three years. We went to America and our agent over there set us up with 6 meetings, really exciting but when we came home we just decided to carry on doing it our selves for the time being.After a while we were having lunch below our office and Garth has this incredible idea for a film, he pitched it to me and I thought, "Brilliant! Let's go to someone now and pitch it, do a development deal, stop doing videos and someone can pay us to focus on it." That's always been the problem, you've got to survive. We then pitched it to Jim Wilson and Paul Webster at Film Four, Jim's always been interested in music video directors, they both loved it and agreed to do a deal on the spot.G. - We smiled for a solid week after that! (laughter)N. - We are about to finish the fourth draft and it just needs tweaking. Its based on a group of 13 year old kids in the 1980's who discover the big Vietnam films and decide to make their own one. It's really exciting.
Has it got a working title yet and is it a comedy? Give me a scoop!
N. - We've got the wrong title so I can't tell you, because it's the wrong title! (laughter) It's a coming of age action adventure! (more laughter)From our videos, we tend to make quite accessible films and we want this to work on a few different levels, kids can go and watch it and enjoy it. We can't wait. Spike Jonze did, Being John Malkovich, which I loved and Michel Gondry is doing his Human Nature which is being edited now and is being produced by Jonze.
Who's work do you prefer?
N. - Both!G. - On a technical level - Gondry but for making us laugh, like, Sabotage, it would be Jonze's stuff. They are both great.N. - I want to be where they are by making this film. We were at an awards ceremony where Garth won best director and Michel won best video for The Chemical Brothers which was the last award after Garth's. He went up on stage and said that he thought Hammer & Tongs work is really good. We met with Michel and Spike afterwards and talked and it was really, really nice.G. - The nicest aspect of the work is that you get to meet your heroes, its no that they are particularly famous but for us its a real privilege.
Quick fire time now. Ready?Easiest band you've worked with?
G. - Pulp.
N. - We've been lucky, haven't had one.
N. - The Coen Brothers.
Favourite film score?
N. - Beetlejuice by Danny Eltman.
Best thing about your work?
G. - It's entertaining.
N. - Its a bit stupid! (laughter)
Are you religious?
N & G. - No.
Do you play cricket?
N & G. - No.
What's your favourite restaurant?
N. - Little Italy. I was going to say The Ivy but that's naff!G. - Everyone says that but its true! No, C&R restaurant , the Malaysian one below our office.