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Interview With Mark Murphy Director Of Awaiting
By James Whittington, Sunday 6th September 2015
Showing as part of FrightFest 2015 was the superb psychological thriller Awaiting. You’ll get a chance to see this when its released onto DVD and digital download on September 7th and we were lucky enough to chat to the director, Mark Murphy just before FrightFest about this much talked about movie.
HC: Where did the idea for Awaiting come from and did it take long to write?
MM: I’ve always wanted to make a Psychological thriller ever since I saw Seven, this was a story I had had in my back pocket for a while, the premise of a victim being caught in the middle of a rather disturbing father/daughter relationship, I must concede the victim trapped against his will isn’t a new premise, and I owe a nod to a lot of films, but I feel with Awaiting I’ve managed to add some fresh elements, specifically what happens when you start breaking apart the family bond. I originally wrote the script back in 2008, but it’s had so many incarnations since then, that if you were to put a time frame on writing hours, I’d say a good 8 months, spread over 6 years or so.
HC: Did you have a cast in mind whilst writing it?
MM: To be honest, I don’t remember, I first started writing it back in 2008, so I’m sure I did, but couldn’t recollect. I was delighted with who we got, I’ve been a fan of Tony’s (Curran) for years, ever since This Life, and both Rupert (Hill) and Diana (Vickers) were hard working troopers who gave so much to the project – especially Rupert who had to endure quite a physical performance.
HC: The cast really do throw themselves into their respective roles, did they rehearse for long?
MM: We had a few days of rehearsal, which was vital, and allowed the actors to really bond before filming, it’s a real character driven piece, very intimate, so this was instrumental to making the film work.
HC: What was the atmosphere like on set?
MM: It was pretty jovial. Tony enjoys a good laugh, he’s got a fantastic spirit and energy, so he’d be playing up between takes, usually doing imitations of people, often stupid people, mostly me. But it was a great crew, a happy family, and everyone bonded, there were no divisions, no hierarchy in place when it came to the social bonding. We all have happy memories from the shoot.
HC: Did you have a large budget?
MM: It was the largest budget I’d worked with, so for me it was, it gave me more toys to play with, but in respect to the rest of the industry, it was fairly modest. Some people recoil at budget restrictions, but for me, necessity is the mother of invention, and you find creative ways to adapt.
HC: Was it all shot on location and if so what problems did that incur?
MM: It was half shot on location, half in the studio (Green Screen Studios, York). We were very fortunate with our location shoot, we had some excellent hands on deck in the form of my line producer and Unit Production Manager, Paddy and Joe, so it all went swimmingly. Beautiful weather too which helped.
HC: How difficult is it to direct such a tension packed movie?
MM: With a lesser cast, it would have been, but Tony, Rupert and Diana, delivered, I just wish I had more time, to play around with more ideas.
HC: Are you nervous that’s it being shown at such a large festival?
MM: Yes, especially as it’s in my own home turf, but I would get nervous at any festival. You can never anticipate how an audience will respond, and you’re throwing yourself at their mercy, here’s a project you’ve spent a portion of your life dedicated to, a project you’ve put your heart and soul into, and put yourself in front of strangers to be judged. If they don’t like it, there’s no way as writer and director you can’t take that personally. But FrightFest is a great festival, and the fans are a passionate lot, as nervous as I am that they may not like it, I’m also tremendously excited that they may really enjoy it.
HC: What state do you think the British film industry is in at the moment?
MM: It’s definitely improving, the industry is incredibly busy at the moment, everyone’s working, which is great, very healthy, and I think there’s some exciting talent emerging, I’m hoping the distributors start taking more responsibility and alienate the few rogue producers still floating around out there, that have been giving the industry a bad rep, exploiting enthusiastic new comers, not paying crew, and producing cheap and weak films. I anticipate the future of the British film industry to only get stronger over the next decade.
HC: What advice would you give to people wanting to write and direct their own movies?
MM: Three pieces of advice; 1) practice your craft as much as you can, keep writing, until your scripts get sharper, keep directing (with your camera phone if you have to) until you start to appreciate the technical side of the craft, which angles will cut well, will allow you to connect to the emotional state of the characters the best, 2) Understand the industry, don’t try and leave film school and go straight into directing, spend a year or two on set, so you can see how each department operates, and interact with each other. Film sets are intimidating places, moving at quite a speed, if you’ve never been on one. As a director you have to be confident, before every take you’ll have various departments asking you questions, if you can’t respond, it’ll all fall apart, it’s important that you inspire confidence in the crew that you know what you’re doing. 3) Find an awesome producer, no man (or woman) is an island, and you’ll need someone to shoulder the workload, and focus on financing your passion, if you spread yourself too thin, you’ll never fully reach your potential as a director and/or writer. I’ve been very fortunate in my having my producer Alan Latham, and line producer Paddy Robinson-Griffin.
HC: So, what projects are you working on at the moment?
MM: I’m currently filming a comedy called The Comedian’s Guide To Survival, starring James Buckley (Inbetweeners), MyAnna Buring (Kill List, Ripper Street), Paul Kaye (Game of Thrones), Neil Stuke and some amazing comic talent, including: Gilbert Gottfried, Jimmy Carr, Omid Djalili, Tim McInnerny, Kevin Eldon, and many more, about a struggling comedian who travels the world to try and discover the secret of comedy.
HC: Mark Murphy, thank you very much.
MM: Thank you.
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