A couple of days ago, we went along to the launch of Mofilm's new filmmaking competition with Nokia, which we discussed earlier in the week. While there, we got a chance to talk to Shane Meadows about some of his upcoming work, from the soon to screen "Le Donk and Scor-Zay-Zee," to his long-in-the-offing dream project "King of the Gypsies." The highlights can be found below.
On mockumentary "Le Donk and Scor-Zay-Zee," which we discovered the trailer for a few weeks back, and is released in the UK on October 9th:
"There's this massive problem I've got with people wanting to see the script finished, they want to read the script and feel like they've watched a film, and I say, "well, if i write a script like that, why should I make the film?" Cause it's done it's job already, you've cried. I want you to read it and go, "I can kind of see what you're doing, but the ending's a bit rubbish..." But that's cause I'll bring what I do to it as we go along. [On "Le Donk"] I've still got the piece of paper, with about four things: Amy Winehouse is gonna be there, can Le Donk get off with her, hopefully the Arctic Monkeys, it was like four things, no story, no idea. A guy turned up to an audition to play a lodger, it was one scene, ten seconds, I said "What's your name?" and he said "Scor-Zay-Zee," and I said, "I've heard of you, are you a rapper?" And he said "I used to be." And over the course of the day, I talked him into doing some raps. Cos all we had was the story of me and this character, Paddy, going on the road, his missus is having a kid, doesn't want anything to do with him, he's gonna go back on the road to get away from it all, and that was all we had. And I said to Paddy, this guy's such an amazing rapper, if we're going to a gig, why don't we take him with us? And it ended up becoming the whole centre of the film, because when it gets there, the Arctic Monkeys end up seeing him rap, and the whole challenge becomes whether we can get the rapper to play in front of 50,000 people, and whether we can talk the Arctic Monkeys into letting us do it. So that was not just the left turn, that was just.. .trusting that in the fact that people around us would find the story, rather than having any idea what it was."On upcoming TV project "We Were Faces," which will pick up the characters from "This is England" three years on from the events of the film:
"I'm doing "We Were Faces," cos I'm a massive fan of "The Sopranos," and stuff like that, where they're basically doing an hour's cinema. Because the problem with film is that you end up stuck in a format, past 100 minutes you start to running into problem getting screens like that. My life, and everything that happened around This is England, the stuff that happened afterwards, you can't fit it all in. So the idea seemed very attractive to me, of making four films, four hours - if you tried to make a four hour film, no one would watch it, even I wouldn't watch it. So it's just a way of telling stories that wouldn't necessarily fit into that format...I'm shooting a couple of episodes of We Were Faces, I'm writing all four with another writer (Jack Thorne, of the upcoming "The Scouting Book for Boys", but I wanted another director to get a chance, so we're going to look for a young up-and-coming director."On his next film, horror flick "Beware the Devil", which sports Meadows' biggest budget yet:
"Beware The Devil", is between £5 and £10 million, which for me is a blockbuster, if you think I just made "Le Donk" for £50,000... I read a book when I was about 20 called "Beware The Devil", which is about a guy who became possessed by going to spiritualist churches and doing ouija boards, by trying to disprove them, and ended up becoming possessed. But in such an unconventional way. Here was this 48 year old man who was doing really well in the electric board suddenly possessed by the devil...I tried to find out if this guy was still alive, because he got exorcised, and became an exorcist himself. We managed to find his son, the man had passed away, but his son helped him write the book, he'd just left college. He's now 50, and quite a well established writer... so next October I'll shoot "Beware The Devil."On "King of the Gypsies," the passion project he's co-writing with Paddy Considine, about a bare-knuckle boxer:
"King of the Gypsies", me and Paddy were going away to write it, cos he was going to play the main character, but someone from America sent an email to my agent, saying they had a claim in the film. They co-owned the idea, and it got really messy, so Channel 4 said they can't enter into it until it's unpicked, it'll take six weeks before you can get back into it. So six weeks passed, six months passed, eighteen months passed, and it still wasn't sorted. In that time, I shot "Somers Town" and "Le Donk", so it was better than sitting on my arse... Just recently, when I got the rights to ["Beware the Devil"], "King of the Gypsies" became free again, but I'd started on this other process, so it'll be at least a couple of years before I get back into it."On writing with Paddy Considine:
The way that we write together now, cos we've written a couple of films since that we've never made, Paddy will improvise, I'll direct him, and he'll act. And I'll be recording it, and go "that was amazing". I'll play some of the other people, I'm not an actor, so it's like Benny Hill acting with Robert De Niro. But it works, because I can see these words coming out of his mouth - we've done it with comedy, and we've done it with more serious work. I like to bring actors in to help build the characters."On success:
"The only time it ever gets any easier is when you make some money for somebody. Right up until "This Is England," it's been an absolute ball-ache making films, and since "This Is England," it's been a lot easier, because by Christmas, it'll have sold a million DVDs, and you see the difference. It's not that they don't like you, or that they don't think you're a great filmmaker, But people aren't gonna chuck millions of pounds at you if they don't think they're gonna get some back, and I think people were just about to give up on me, but luckily "This is England" happened, and it just captured people's imagination. So now I've got the choice of doing high budgets, medium ones, or something like "Le Donk," which I did for £50,000."On how he would fix the British film industry:
"I would try to take what France do, which we used to have in the '50s and '60s, where a certain amount of screens have to show homegrown work. For someone like me, you're completely at the mercy of going up against big Hollywood films that they know will sell popcorn. It would be great if the government stepped in, even just a small percentage, because it would naturally make more films happen. There's a real problem in this country with people supporting art in a way that in France it isn't, in France, they're revered, whereas here, being creative isn't seen as a way of being proud of your country. They just show "Meet the Fockers" and "Pirates of the Caribbean 51", and what's ended up happening is that the people who would've made those films end up moving into TV. The problem that then escalates is that people go "why would I want to watch a kitchen-sink drama, I can just watch Eastenders," noone ends up wanting to pay for it, because they're getting it all free on the telly."