The latest Eurozone crisis creates context for the film
The good news from Cannes was securing distribution deals for a number of European territories and getting into more festivals. The most special news is Greece and my sincere hope is that the film will bring hope and a sense of community at a time of despair when it is screened there this Autumn. It is something I could never have foreseen when I first started writing this story.
Next week the film is being screened at UK London Film Focus – at the BFI on Southbank. It’s a four day event where a select number of British films are screened to film buyers from all over the world. A mini-Cannes in London. I would go along and see the film again but I physically can’t do it. I end up staring at the people in the cinema, gauging their reaction. If you’d seen the film as many times as me you would do exactly the same. People walking out would say, “Who was that weirdo?” And someone else would say, “The guy that made the film”.
I was told by a lot of people in the business that the film would not ‘travel’ outside the UK. And that this was a serious weakness in its commercial viability. This is now looking absurd as all our interest is coming from outside the UK. Other people have told me that no one knows anything in the film business. And I guess if anyone knew what would be a hit at the cinema they wouldn’t be making or distributing the many terrible films that get made and distributed. So the not knowing thing feels about right. It happens in football and in business – in employment. Start-ups that are doomed to failure become overnight successes and major signings for football clubs flop disastrously. No one knows. We can only hazard a good guess about anything.
Another recent development is the interest in a special screening to the European Parliament (sometime this Autumn) to celebrate the Cyprus EU presidency. It’s not what I had in mind when I made this film but when I watch the TV news reporting the Eurozone crisis, I start to believe that the film might have its own intelligence about where it needs to go.
When I wrote the story a couple of years ago, I could never have foreseen just how significant the financial angle of the film was going to be. For me, the financial side of the story (a man who borrows too much, loses everything and is forced to start again) was a structural device. I needed to get a rich man, who loses everything, back into a chip shop – so he could discover something more significant. I originally struggled with how I was going to do this until it occurred to me that an external event like a banking crisis, not unlike the Lehman Brothers collapse, might just happen again in a fictional present setting – as long as we got the film out before the predicted economic recovery in 2013.
So in 2010 I was stretching the ‘might just happen again’ part for a banking collapse. It was highly unlikely that a bank would ever collapse like Lehman again and it was suggested that I set the story in the past – in 2008 – especially as the world would be in recovery by the time the film came out. We’d had our run on the bank with Northern Rock in the UK, Lehman’s had collapsed but governments all over the world had stepped in and saved the day. Even when some of the actors read early drafts of the script in early 2011, I had to clarify that this was set in a fictional present time, not the past. But in the last few months, even in the last few weeks and days, the film’s setting seems more relevant than it ever was when I was writing it or when we were filming it last Summer.
The world went crazy at the end of 2008. And every time we think we’re getting out of the mess the world lurches again towards unthinkable chaos. We are all in denial and no one knows. The denial about the structural problems of our world are so big that it seems almost impossible to face the truth. Until people put their hands up and say, “Actually, I don’t have a clue about what is going on anymore. I couldn’t tell you whether this footballer will make it, what will be a hit at the cinema and I certainly don’t know how the world will get out of this terminal cycle of spiralling debt…” we will never progress. No one knows. Not even me about my own film! I just don’t know. I only know that it is good.