What was your first film influence and what inspired you to make films?
My first significant cultural influence of any kind, let alone film, was Star Wars (which I think was the case for much of my generation). I was only three, so my knowledge of cinema was, lets say, sparse. But I was inspired, and a few years later I began making shorts on video. I eventually decided to pursue film-making as a career when I starting seeing, and consolidating, the New Hollywood movies of the seventies. These films were stunning Jaws, Taxi Driver, The Godfather, and the rest. They taught me the true meaning of the words film and director.
Outline for us your short credits to date.
Probably too many to mention in detail, having started so long ago. The earlier shorts were a lot more ambitious in genre terms than anything Ive made recently; mainly sci-fi, action adventure and horror. I experimented a lot, toying with camera angles and special effects, without paying too much attention to plot. Later on I began taking things more seriously, using scripts and storyboards, and directing a couple of feature-length films on video. My most recent shorts have been Panic (1999, 15 minutes) and Rooftop (1996, 26 minutes), both on 35mm.
Tell us about Panic. Where did you get the idea for it and is it a true
Panic was inspired by a true story of accidental kidnapping which happened in the US, but the film is essentially a work of fiction. While we were working on the second draft of the script, a similar incident occurred in the UK. We managed to contact the mother, who eventually became a creative advisor on our film. This was bizarre, because many of the story details we had invented for the screenplay had happened in real life. Then, months later on the day of our cast and crew screening, there were newspaper reports of another similar kidnapping. Thats when it started getting a little too weird for me.
Where did you first see the script?
Before making Panic I had been searching for a writer to collaborate with on a US-based feature screenplay. After exploring a few writers web sites, I eventually connected with Jeff Watson, a Canadian writer based in Vancouver. We discussed the feature script in detail via e-mail, and then decided it would make sense to write a short first as a test run. Everything was written over the Internet, which meant with the time difference that the script was being worked on almost twenty-four hours a day. We had a first draft of the script before even speaking on the phone. When Jeff and I were finished with the fourth draft, I teamed up with a long-time writing partner, Andrew Love, who helped tighten up the plot and add some sparkle to the dialogue. The first time Jeff and I eventually met was on the evening of the films premiere, at the (fanfare please) Odeon West End, Leicester Square. Were now working on the original feature script, which has just gone into development.