I finally got to share my short Mr. Invisible with the cast and crew this week in London. I hadn’t seen some of them since we wrapped (which was almost 18 months ago now) so it was nice to reconnect with some familiar faces, especially our star Mr. Julian Glover, who was in great spirits.
After the film had finished, Mr. Glover turned to the audience and hailed it generously as “the perfect little film” that does “all the right things”. He also added that the production had been one of the most enjoyable he’d ever worked on.
Despite claims that I had paid him to say this, it was very heartening to hear this from a man who has been in the industry as long as he has and worked with some of the great directors. As someone subsequently suggested, maybe I should just retire now.
Cast and Crew screenings are interesting occasions. It’s is the first time that most people involved in the film get to see it come together (or fall apart, depending on how good a job you’ve done as Director). It was therefore nice to get such positive feedback from my lead actor, and many of the other people who attended.
I definitely felt from day one on Mr. Invisible like I had a lot to prove. I was directing a team of people that had worked on some of the biggest feature films and TV of the last few years. The camera crew had just come off Game of Thrones, my Assistant Director had just worked with Brad Pitt on World War Z, the Line Producer had just wrapped on Sherlock, and Julian Glover… well, he was Julian Glover.
I, on the other hand, had up till then made only a handful of low-budget shorts. Don’t get me wrong… I’m proud of ‘Le Chat’ (2006, shot on HandyCam) and the rest, but it’s not quite on the same level as Star Wars, Casino Royale or any of the other films on the resume of my talented cast & crew. Ultimately I was given a great opportunity by the Producer to step up my game, and I had to rise to it.
I decided to treat it in the same way I have my previous films, not be overawed, demand the same high standards and attention to detail from others that I do of myself, and ultimately just try to do justice to what was a fantastic script by the writer Richard Sainsbury.
The shooting process is strange. At that stage the film really only exists in the Director’s head. When you are in the early part of your career, there is understandably going to be a few more doubts from an experienced crew, a few more questioning looks, the occasional pair of rolled eyes. Are you steering the ship in the right direction, or leading everyone blindly onto the rocks? Ultimately, you have to just encourage people to trust you.
This can be a lot of pressure, especially when combined with the necessity to constantly make decisions and compromises whilst filming. Perhaps the romanticised view of Hollywood Director is a guy relaxing in a chair smoking a cigar and occasionally shouting into a megaphone. In my experience there is no chair. There is no cigar. Just a lot of face rubbing and soul searching.
The hope, though, is that when your finally come to screen the film, it all feels worthwhile. A crew can forgive your demands, the long days, the physical toil, the quest for perfection, if it leads to a good film. They may even want to work with you again. Of course, if it’s not up to scratch, then it’s a different matter entirely.
On the evidence of the screening and Mr. Glover’s kind words, I think I did alright. Hopefully the film can now go on to have long and successful festival run…