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netribution > features > interview with tim clague > page two
What was the prize for that? Money, a development deal or just a guarantee that it would be made?
A guarantee and they already had £100,000 but it was pre agreed that you wouldn't be directing it. Stephen Daldry was pulled in on the deal with Working Title so he had to direct something but I think that the themes of childhood and growing up was always going to interest him so even if he wasn't pre attached, he'd still be perfect for it anyway. I don't know how it all came about, it doesn't really matter.

Did you know about him before that?
To tell you the truth, I'd never heard of him but of course, as soon as this happened I looked around and found a book about his work in the theatre. I read that and a number of articles about his very filmic theatre work, lots of sfx and he's clearly a very visual guy so I was very excited when I knew he'd be doing it.

Did you develop the film any more after that?
Yeah, I did some more work on it with the development guy at Working Title before Stephen came on board.
What was that like?
Well I felt like a big man! (laughs) Well be honest, so would you! (laughs) You walk in past reception, you see all the posters of the films that have been made by them and you find yourself sitting down talking about your own script. It was a big thing for me as a writer and I enjoyed it but I also enjoyed the thing that I hadn't done before which was trust me as a writer. We discussed everything together and it was great to get that sort of feedback - really valuable and exciting. Then Stephen came on board and I didn't get as much of a chance to work with him but his was very similar. He sat down and said, 'Now Tim, I see you've got an extra scene here where the two lads break into the football ground and have a game in the middle of it. What do you mean by that?' It's a strange question but he kept asking me and I wasn't just going to say, 'and nothing.' So I came out with something like, the football ground is a sort of cathedral for them, he listens to everything you say and by the end you've come out with a whole new idea for that scene. Anyway, you go away chuffed to bits because you believe that you've thought of this great idea! (laughs) He forces you to go through your top ten ideas, get rid of them because they are going to be cliché's and after that they become original and fresh. It really worked and so I've tried to do that a little bit more myself.

How did you find him on a personal level?
Well he's a lot like that, a sponge that will do a lot of listening and suck up the ideas. Once on the set he'll just bang through it because it's all done by that point, he admitted that he doesn't know too much about the camera so he just tells people what he wants and talks to the actors about what they should bring to it. On a personal level I found him very focused on his work and he'll do the chit chat but mainly about movies.
Are you still in touch with him regarding the film?
Not at the moment no, I'm still in touch with Working Title but not with him. Not due to any falling out but because unless it's the film that he's working on there's he's not thinking or talking about it.

Was you plan to direct it similar to the final version in any way?
No, very different because the original plan was to shoot it in a DV way, all hand held, non stop and from the kid's point of view. It was going to be jump cut up to tell a story of this lad's troubles, only revealed by the fact that you could cut out these sentences. He could never articulate it and he never realised that he had these feelings within him but Stephen's version was a much more classical approach and by that point it was being shot on 35mm. He gave the audience much more sympathy whereas I gave him none, this kid just wants to play football and doesn't miss his Dad because he never really knew him. Stephen's angle was much more about this whole in the kid's life, film's an art and not a science because there's such a thing as vision and interpretation and I'm very happy with his take on it.

Did you try to convince him of your way to shoot it?
Yes I did try to convince him that it should contain this energy but he wasn't convinced despite spending a long time thinking about it. He wanted to get to grips with this solid filmmaking technique that was going to stand him in good stead whereas mine was perhaps a little bit more experimental and crazy. His was more about performance where mine was more technique but he did listen. We talked a lot about locations, we shot it in Bournemouth and I'd said that I'd written it to be shot there. I said that he could shoot it anywhere, it didn't bother me, but he came down and liked it and ended up shooting it there. I knew the area so we talked about a few places, checked them out, found some others but some of the best locations had to be cut which is a shame, there was a lot of bad weather on the shoot.

Tell us about BAFTA nomination.
Well I guess Working Title put it in. Of course anyone can enter a short film and it doesn't have to be attached to a production company and I knew they were coming out but on the day I'd forgotten. I got a phone call at work to say that it had been nominated, I tried to tell people but they didn't really believe me! (laughs) I couldn't believe it but, in a naïve way I thought that I was made! Of course it didn't win on the night but if it had you move onto the next round where it's Oscar nominations. It's done a lot for me though, not in the stupid ways that I'd imagined, but in a proper way - if you write scripts then people will read and consider them. I've written one since but it isn't as strong because there is a weakness in the structure, it's something that I'm either going to have to tackle or move on from. People will read it anyway so I can at least talk about it. I've done some shorts since and I want to carry on with some more.
What are you working on now?
I'm at the treatment stage of another feature, I've just finished editing another short shot on Super8 and I'm in pre production on a digital short as well. A few different projects.

Have you found funding for any of those?
The Super8 one I funded myself and the treatment I'd like to get funded to take on to the feature stage but it's quite a controversial topic and I need a lot of input on it. The digital one won't cost anything really but my aim is to get onto features because it's going to take so long.

Can you tell us some more about the feature?
It’s a story about the rise of a fascist British Prime Minister who quickly rises to power through an agenda of very realistic, hot topics like asylum and smaller issues like the skin colour of your blood donor and up he comes. It's centred on a street and over the film's three year period things change without the residents really noticing them. Things begin to grow worse when, for example, the black policemen strike over this issue and the leader has to form a militia - consisting mainly of right wing whites. There's an old character that fought fascism in WW2 but he won't accept what's going on around him, the UN attempt to take political action and the old guy gets on his soapbox about foreign intervention. So there's a lot to squeeze in and it's very difficult to structure but it's important and I really want to get it done.


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