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netribution > features > interview with Wanton Muse > page one

The Muses sat opposite me on a leather sofa that must have been friends with Franco at, they grinned expectantly while I composed an onomatopoeic symphony on a theme of iced bourbon and beer. I'd grunt and they'd giggle at me like kids at the zoo and although these first moments were all mine, I realise now that they had the advantage the whole while. For a number of reasons this was a chaser day, perhaps I exceeded the recommended dose.
I was due to meet Wanton Muse at a ballsy little local called The Bricklayers at half five, I was late but they didn't seem to care. I suppose that tapping at the locked door of my intuition and the damn naughty looks of potential mischief hiding under those brows and fringes should have been ample warning. My so called 'interview' with this production company did not go as expected, I was tired and all my stock, devious tricks to gouge out the necessary copy eloped with these nymphs, my Muse was Judas.

| by tom fogg |
photos by tom fogg |
| in london |

Wanton Muse are a trio of deceptively canny, obviously talented and very bright young women, an East End based production company set up in February '99 that you'll be reading a lot about in the trade rags of the near future. They are all twenty seven, if that's true I must look like Olly Reed, they've known each other forever and their respective talents (indeed appearances) compliment like the Divine Ratio.
Pikka Brassey, a practising Kundalini yoga teacher, worked as a production assistant at the Beeb for about three years before moving over to subtitling. I thought "Why on earth would someone…,'" but here came the answer, '"that was great because you just watch a lot of movies in slow motion and you begin to learn how films are edited.I did that for a year but I was also working on screenplays and short films - then I found Philippa." She smiled. Philippa started out producing plays on the fringe but quickly found a likely position at Creative Artist Management, "I was assistant to the main agent there Michael Wiggs for a couple of years. I did all their script reading and the publicity for all their clients - I loved the reading part but I didn't want to be an agent, that was where Pikka came in. Pikka and I set up the company and Moira came on board a year ago - we needed her." Moira Campbell has a CV as scarred as mine but the wounds have healed of late where your author's will always fester, "I've had many jobs! (laughter) Business administration, PR, journalism, chef, trapeze artist - hence my wounded hand." Yes I'd noticed the hand but only as a halcyon mirage of my potato peeling kitchen porter days, " I was doing this stupid move around the bar last night and all the skin on my hand just ripped off." She told it like a shaggy dog tale, I paused for the joke on me…nothing, they seem to share an inherited sense of humour that has to be restrained for fear of joint hysteria - who were these women? We've known each other for a long time, Moira and I since we were four years old and I met Pikka when I was 14. We hadn't seen each other for a while and then Pikka and I hooked up and started talking about films and writing." Philippa explained but is it the booze doing its good work? I can hardly hear them now, keeping nodding Tom, the 'Oh really?'s won't last long so we move upstairs where the light was tripping a great tango.

How does three old pals start up a production company then? Philippa answered this one, "Well Pikka had a contact called Tony Defries who was interested in setting up a company to develop specific screenplays like Paradise Lost that we're developing with a writer at the moment." Wake up Tom! Paradise Lost by John Milton! That little beauty has got to be 200 pages long, religious stuff in impossibly rigid iambic pentameter isn't it Pikka?
" We were about half way through that but it's on the back burner now, it's enormously ambitious and it's best to go with something more feasible. We've covered several ways of treating it because there are so many ways you can adapt it so we finally decided what we wanted to do with it and put it on hold. Then this new writer called Arash Amel suddenly phones us to say that he's actually just written the same screenplay that we'd been developing - practically exactly the same!"

I'm not buying this for a second, it sounds like The Greatest Story Ever Written but I'm afraid of hitting a nerve. Philippa insists, "It does work but it's a bit long winded so we've transposed all the characters into a almost sci-fi fantasy world and we've removed the pressured religious elements." I thought that was the point darling?
A kidney punch from Moira, "It is the point but Lucifer is the tragic hero and it's really a story about him and how he gets his revenge - It still retains God, Paradise and Adam and Eve but it's a bit more acceptable. The company was set up for that originally but we then managed to inspire him with our other ideas." Tony Defries, yes that name sounds familiar, He was a very big music manager in the 70's, Pikka explained He discovered David Bowie, Iggy Pop, Stevie Wonder, people like that. He's moved into film in the UK and also manages bands over here, he set us up really."

Even my faithful camera, Prudence seemed ready to join the wanton band at this point. She flirted and gushed like the local tart with George Clooney in town, I tried to wrestle some professionalism into her tired body but, like any frisky mongrel - you have to let them get on with it sometimes. To her credit the old wench kicked out some good ones but I reckon it was the work of the Muse, they seem to have bled into each shot like only the oldest of friends and famous dead people can. We were moved on by some officious twerp at this point so we fed the Juke some shrapnel and left the place rocking. Talk moves to holidays and invariably Cannes. As a virgin (grow up!) I'm interested as to how one should come across given a favourable meeting with, say, Harvey and Bob? Philippa explains, " We went with nothing and really nothing on paper. We just approached people professionally and with an open mind, we didn't try to sell anything we didn't have and it's something I'd recommend to anyone."

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