Free-ads - Forum News and columns Features & Interviews Film links Calendar dates for festivals Contact details Statistical Info Funding Info
site web
About Netribution Contact Netribution Search Netribution


interviews / reviews / how to / short shout / carnal cinema / film theory / whining & dining

netribution > features > interview with lab ky mo > page two
What was your speciality at art college? What made you turn to film?
Until I left I was really a fine artist, I did installation work, sort of post modern conceptual stuff but I decided to move into film because I wanted more of an audience. Where the fine art came in was that I'm very hands on, I wrote and directed this film and right now I've a hand in editing it. I'm not a massive control freak but I have a hand in everything because as an artist at art college you always work independently.

What are your fellow students doing now?
I don't hang out with them but I hear of them and I feel proud for them for what they are doing. I was at college with Stella McCartney and at least five of the other fashion guys have made it and a lot of the guys in Graphics are now making commercials and pop promos. I was also at college with the guys from Hammer 'n' Tongs but they were a little younger than me, its people like those guys that really inspire me.

9 Dead Gay Guys has a pretty high profile cast.
Yeah, it's got Vas Blackwood, Stephen Berkoff and people like Leon Herbert because the producer knows him and we've also Michael Praed, Fish from Marillion and Carol Decker. Lots of hangovers from the 80's.
How did you cast it?
I sent out at least a hundred scripts, a fiver at a time, you have to tailor each letter and we approached everyone, Stephen Fry and Julian Clarey who we got but then lost because we fucked up on the contract. All the gay icons but a lot of older ones - all the gay icons past 40.

Tell us about the mistakes you made.
My only mistake was with the budget. I started off as a small outfit and ended up with a very large, professional shoot and the money didn't tally. Case in point: If you have four wardrobe people that are all used to working in TV and used to taking tons and tons of Polaroid's, if they come on your shoot they'll continue to and that's all money. We basically got everything we wanted but we've got tons of bills now - we'll see how our luck holds.

Was it a bit too much of a leap of faith?
Well it was never that guerrilla in the first place but there's a point where you've got to spend money to have a product that's a little more saleable. For instance, our transport budget was about six or seven grand, our catering budget was around twenty grand but every little detail helps, although we had an over abundance of runners they all helped.

Did you attempt to source any public finance for the film?
I spent a year writing the script and got very excited by all the silliness and the blowjobs and things. I was very optimistic and so I gave it to my agent who's quite well known - she hated it and wouldn't represent it. If your agent won't work with your script there's not a great deal you can do with it and secondly, a lot of people were turned off by the subject matter, because they thought that it would be a hard core porn movie. So I did approach some organisations but I didn't get very far.

Well it's a pretty big gap between fine art and blowjobs?
Well to be honest, there's a pretty big gap between this film and my other screenplays. I'm not gay and because this was my fourth screenplay I wrote all the personal stuff earlier and I suppose I got sick and tired of writing personal films that didn't get very far. I decided to make this a bit more commercial for a bit of publicity really, whether that's going to be the case is another thing but it was very difficult to write because it's so far removed from my other material. None of my themes are in it, themes like violence and cultural identity. This is all based on stories that my gay friend told me about the gay underworld and so every single character is based on people that I've been told about or I've met.
I can't tell you whether any of this works or not, I can only tell you why I designed it. Queer as Folk is very interesting because gay guys love the gay guys in it, women fancy the gay guys in it and straight men liked it because they were fascinated by the gay culture. 9 Dead Gay Guys is set in the gay world but you could describe it as Queer as Folk meets Southpark. The protagonists are straight but a lot of the humour is really gay, not camp but there's a lot of gay wit. I got it from stories like taxi divers who would wave fares if you gave them blowjobs.

Where was this film shot?
In and around Old Street and the whole area is fantastic for locations, there's a real vibe about the place, the roundabout traffic was terrible but just one street off and it's completely clear.

Did you not think of shooting on digital to bring the price down?
My last short was shot on DV for £400 on a two day shoot. It was great to be able to shoot on next to no money but I wasn't pleased with it aesthetically, it just looked really flat. We pushed it through an effects computer and it looked a little bit better but I'm a real snob. There's the obvious pros and cons with DV, everyone can go out and make a film but everyone will go out and make a film and it's how you actually handle the medium. In some respects there are too many people going out and making DV films because it's too easy but I'm quite traditional. Having said that, Robert Zemeckis made a good point by saying that he'll shoot his next movie on DV because he hates the grain and dirt of celluloid - that's a good enough reason. What interests me about it is the preservation of the image, it never fucks up after you've shot it. I looked at one of my shorts the other day and it's completely faded, you've only got to show a print ten or twelve times and it's not much use anymore.

So what are your plans now, apart from getting out of debt?
Well I've got to the point where I have to think about my next project. As a director, all I ever think about is getting back out on shoot! I love shooting but I've got a couple of screenplays and one that's been sold twice, initially to the BBC. I've a little bit of a poor relationship with them though because I wouldn't do their rewrites, they wanted to change the story too much. I've rewritten it about five times and I believe that there's a point where it doesn't get any better, it just becomes different. That was the Oranges are Blue one. It's set in a Chinese takeaway in Belfast, the Chinese cook comes up with a dish called Kingbilly Supper leading up to the Loyalist marches. It just so happens that the dish comprises two chicken balls and a penis…I mean sausage and the Protestants all think that the cook's taking the piss. It's just a fun political satire but it's more personal, and no gay guys.

Do you feel you need to go back and make a film about your family life and childhood etc?
Yeah, it meant a lot more to me than it does now because I'm a different person to who I was when I was 22. At the moment I'm pretty far away from the personal issues but maybe I'll go back to it, I don't know to be honest. The thing is, although I wanted to deal with things like envy at art college, I have that less and less. I don't want to be a Ken Loach although I really respect him, I just want to be a bit more entertaining. Ken Loach is actually upstairs at Goldcrest and it's just amazing to be in the same building with him, I bumped into him in the corridor the other day.

Do you know much about Chinese cinema?
Yeah I do, I love Wong Kar Wai and I know a lot about the industry over there. I made a £10,000 short in Hong Kong that the Arts Council put up, you see my problem with the British film industry is that it's really difficult to get money, not because they are stingy with it but because there isn't enough to go around. I've made films in London, LA, Hong Kong and Belfast, the finances aren't here but I was able to get 10 grand in Hong Kong quite easily.

Which industry did you find most receptive to filmmakers?
Well you can knock Hollywood forever, however, it's an industry town and British people won't understand what that means. Every single person in the city has something to do with film and it's a respected industry so everyone gets well paid. LA's great for the technicians. Hong Kong was just fly by night, it's amazing what they get away with, they shoot features on 30 grand. The labs destroyed my short's neg and it's amazing how poor the quality is so I'll never go there again to shoot on 16mm. Take LA again. My Bafta sponsored neg is still there, it's stored in the same vault as the Terminator 2 neg and the place looks like the Pentagon! In Hong Kong they cut my neg with sellotape so you saw a white flash with every cut but they are so immune to the fucking poor quality that they didn't see it.


Copyright © Netribution Ltd 1999-2002
searchhomeabout usprivacy policy