1. First off, what are your thoughts about the coronavirus pandemic, and how are you dealing with it?
Firstly, yes it's a great tragedy and I would hoped that as a race of humans we would have joined together to combat it. But the opposite, in fact, has happened. Which is worrying!
For me, it's fine so far- however, i do miss going to the cinema!
2. What inspired you to write Palindrome?
Palindorome is born out of a project that fell apart last year. A very different kind of film- a samurai film. Once that fell apart I was left a little lost and, acutally quite relevant to now, isolated. I began to doubt myself as a writer and director. This film has many elements of all the thoughts in my head at the time.
3. What challenges did you face while writing Palindrome?
There actually wasn't any challenges once I began. I wrote it in 2 weeks and then tidied it up over the course of a month or so with my wonderful script editor, Sarah Smith-Gordon.
I also have to thank Asha Modha, who during my mini depression, was very helpful in giving me advice and direction to help me see the light of a new project.
4. What is your writing habit in general? Do you write in the daytime or at night?
Once I start a project, whether it's writing or fixing a tap, I am absolutely obsessive. Maniacal, even. So I write at day and night. But one thing I am always keen to NOT do is write for the sake of finishing something. That can become a slog and off-putting for me as a writer and i'm sure also for the reader. As much as possible I keep it organic.
Withni that spell of 2- 6 weeks when i'm writing a project I inhabit ALL the characters in my head and they all have conversations with each other.
5. What was the most surprising thing about your experience making Palindrome?
Well this is my 2nd feature as a solo director. I was actually surprised how easy it was this time. I feel i'm at a point in my life where I've probably seen 80% of commonly known films made and I'm able to dissect them so vividly now. When I was younger I would be bamboozled and in awe about how some shots were done or scenes were constructed/acted.
Right now, though, I feel as if I'm in the zone. Its all very natural when it comes to directing. There is, for me, a right way and a wrong way.
Of course, because it's art, that's very subjective.
But for me if I follow the principles of the greatest films I've seen by the greatest filmmakers through the ages- who all in principle. follow the same path- Fellini, Bergman, Coppola, etc- then that is the RIGHT way.
Again, this is subjective. But I'd argue with anyone all day who would say that they are BAD filmmakers. I would argue they are the greatest (along with many others).
6. Did you make a cameo on Palindrome?
I do indeed make a cameo - how did you know? It's a blink and you'll miss it cameo. Well actually it's a little more than a blink and you'll miss it moment. But I shan't say where it is.
I also scored a scene in the film called Nurse Jeanette's song.
My brother Timothy, who is a musician, was kind enough to clean up my raw work.
7. Have you ever considered adapting your book Sexy Utopia into a feature film?
Actually this was done by screenwriter, Shaun Davis, back in 2009 and it was close to being a Channel 4 series and then also a movie. But it was around the time of the financial crash so the project fell apart. However, I still do have this script and about another 10, unproduced. Plus a book that I released online called Happiness (the secret to) - which I am attempting to turn into 8 animation episodes.
8. If a self-published author is seeking a screenwriter or director, how would one get you or any expert to read his or her story to see if it would make a compelling movie?
This is the age old question really. It's the chicken or the egg scenario.
I don't currently have an agent. And the last time I sent out a script to a studio to read I was probably 17 years old. I got rejection letters from Warner Brothers and Universal. It's a question I don't have a definitive answer to. Obviously I've chosen to take the independent route. I would advise this. But then again I would also advise the other more conventional route. We all have our own paths. My advice is; if you want to go down the traditional route. Get an agent as they can get your script to the right people. However, sometimes getting an agent is as hard as getting studios to read it.
9. Could you give us an interesting fun fact about working with Tabata Cerezo, Sarah Swain, Hester Ruoff or/and any cast members?
Well the set was jovial everyday, despite us dealing with some pretty heavy subjects and working massively with time constraints - but I prefer a fun set. There was one day when we were shooting at an underground bar in Central London - on the other floors there was businesses. The scene we had in mind had to be populated by smoke. So we pop on the smoke machine and set off all the alarms in the whole building.
It had be evacuated.
The owner of the bar was furious and told us that we could no longer film there.That was a CRUSHING moment!
However, after 10 mins I gave him a call and tried to appeal to his heartstrings.
He changed his mind - but that would have been a disaster - in the end, the scene came out awesomely.
The worst thing is: this is a scene in the film where Sarah Swain and Hester Ruoff have to extremely emotional and both were in their respective method acting zones.
Thankfully all worked out and gave two chilling incredible performances.
10. Which of your short films you made in the past would you like to see turned into a feature film? And why?
Hahah! Great question - answer is: none of them! When I look back on some of my short films, I am both overwhelmed and embarrassed - I am overwhelmed by how we got them made. I made most of them with my soul mate in film, Haider Zafar, and they are actually pretty good.
I am proud of them.
But we are now on another level altogether from then.
Especially haider, who for me, is the best DOP in the UK. If his name was John Smith, he'd be at the Oscars every year. He'll still get that level.
So to answer your question again, none of them! I am also very much of the thinking that, once you're done with a project you move on and don't tread over it again.
11. What is your favorite movie as a child and what is your favorite movie now?
This is my specialist subject, so I have two definitive list.
One is my favourite films, I'll name 6 of them,
1. Wizard of Oz
2. Fight Club
3. La Haine
4. Kill Bill
5. Memento/ Inception
6. Old Boy
And then my list of what is actually the best films ever made - which doesn't necessarily mean they are my favourite. They are just, objectively (in my opinion - haha) the best films ever made:
1. Schindler's List
2. The Godfather Part 2
3. Citizen Kane
4. 2001: A Space Odyssey
5. Godfather Part 1
6. Pulp Fiction
I could go on, but shan't!
12. Did you watch 73rd BAFTA Awards/ 92nd Oscars Awards? If so, what was your favorite and least favorite moment?
I think I'll be obvious and say Bong- Joon- Ho's win! Very very cool at the OSCARs but for him to then salute the living legend that is Martin Scorsese was a stunning moment!
Parasite was a good little film! I still prefer Memories of a Murder, which is a masterpiece. But Parasite was the right film, at the right time and so refreshing. As I feel the industry is in a bit of a rut at the moment.
BAFTA's - maybe Margot Robbie's speech on behalf of Brad Pitt.
Least Favourite moments - I didn't really watch them fully to have a least favourite moment.
But I'm not a big fan of the BAFTA or the British Film Industry on a whole, so maybe I'll say the whole ceremony.
13. If you could switch bodies with a certain celebrity, who would it be and why?
Pahah, another great question - I am not sure actually. Wouldn't mind being Denzel Washington or Sam Jackson for a day or two and having their memories of working on the incredible projects they have.
But, conversely, I'd love to be Meryl Streep or Diane Keaton - both are incredibly prominent actors from the 70's who worked on some of the most seminal films of that most impressive era of film.
14. What is your favorite book of all time?
So, a confession, I hate reading books! which is so strange for a writer and especially someone who has written two books. But as a kid I loved The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. And the sequels. And as an adult I am huge fan of Chuck Palahnuik - so I've read Fight Club & Survivor. For my formative years, his work crucial to me. Almost all of my scripts as a teenager had elements of Fight Club in them. Thankfully, I've found my own voice since then.
15. Between Six Rounds and The Conversations, which one would you choose to write a sequel or prequel?
I think this links back to what I said earlier about once a project is done, you don't got back to to it. So I actually wouldn't want to explore a sequel for these. However, in line with answering the question, The Conversations definitely. I can see something coming from that. It's left very open ended and I really enjoy the two lead characters - Al and Ellie. I think a spin off with just Ellie would be great to conquer and her adventures.
16. Last question, what is the one thing that anyone should do/eat/try if one is visiting London, England?
Head over to Camden and also Camden Market - here you'll find every sub-section, ethnicity, accent, culture, economical element of the UK.
Thank you Marcus Flemmings for answering the questions. I hope you get the chance to check out Palindrome when it comes out. Thank you for reading this interview and visiting Novelpro Junkie. Take care and I hope you stop by here again.