"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! "
I remember Tom Fogg coming back from the interview with Hammer and Tongs, a music video trio (then unknown to us) in 2000. He was both bitter and excited for they seemed just like us, except they'd focussed only on making films and had made 50. And what's more they had two features in the pipeline, a big 'space movie' they couldn't talk about, and a film set in the 80s with a bunch of kids interested in Vietnam films, a film, Tom was told, they wanted to make so they could get where Michel Gondry was. Sweet ironies.
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 not that they are particularly famous but for us it’s a real privilege.Read more Back in 2000 : Hammer and Tongs on space and Vietnam movie plans
Ben Hopkins is the sort of person you invite to your grande bouffe at News Years, when you've reserved places for one too many happy couples. Nic met him at some festival or other last year [that's 2000 now - Nic] and after hearing of his talent but having missed Simon Magus, he had a pop at interviewing him anyway. Months after transcribing that half hour of garbled crackling (and after evidence of an odd cult following) Ben sends us an email trying to drum up publicity for his latest film The Nine Lives of Tomas Katz without realising the connection. This is the film that people love or hate, the director that many have derided at cliquey parties whilst others claim he's the resurrection and the light. Netribution's vote?
Genius. We keep watching it and we've
both agreed that this film, an enormous exotic main course with
tiredness and drugs on the side and a huge mint julep, is the most
daring and successful British film for a quarter of a century. Bold
words huh? Well the trade reviews are listed after the interview - just
to show you what 'the experts' thought - but they could never come
close to persuading or dissuading potential viewers accurately. It's
just one of those films that demands exhibition and gets piss all. This
isn't Bridget Jones or even a Lean epic, this is The Wicker Man and 2001
on £400,000. Please go and see this film. Go and hate it, walk out and
blame me or chew sodden blotter with your popcorn and have your wits
walk out instead.