Honeymooner director Col Spector talks about non-loutish male characters, shooting on a tight budget and being part of New British Cinema Quarterly.
Col Spector’s second feature Honeymooner stars Gerard Kearns as Fran, a man dumped by his fiancée weeks before their wedding. He is looking for a serious relationship but his two best friends (Chris Coghill, Al Weaver) are less committed to their girlfriends.
Spector shot the film in only 17 days in North London (including locales such as his own flat), on a budget of just £48,000.
It explores similar themes to his last feature, 2006’s Someone Else, which starred Susan Lynch and Stephen Mangan in the story of the romantic foibles of thirtysomethings in North London [made for about £160,000]. His carefully observed works, with moments of comedy and drama, have drawn comparisons to directors including Woody Allen and Eric Rohmer.
Spector’s previous works include documentaries, commercials and 2002 short New Year’s Eve, starring a then-unknown Keira Knightley alongside Mangan.
Honeymooner premiered at the Edinburgh International Film Festival, and Soda Pictures’ New British Cinema Quarterly series releases the film starting this week. Spector, Kearns and Coghill will participate in a post-screening Q&A at London’s Renoir tonight (Thursday).
Where did the idea for Honeymooner start?
I bumped into a friend of mine on the day he was meant to get married. His fiancee had called it off a couple of weeks before. So it started with this idea that this guy was giving a woman everything he thought she wanted: commitment and love and a nice apartment, and she turned him down. And he was dumbfounded. I thought that was an interesting starting point for a story.
The other thing was that I noticed that if you take the tube nowadays, you see more women going to work than men. In London, more women have spending power than men. So what does that do for men?
I also wanted a male character that was upright and sensible, it’s so boring to see more loutish men.
And you financed it mostly yourself?
I could have waited another year or two and raised the money, or I could have just done it cheaply and quickly. I got a bank loan and got people in the crew who were on the up and they did it for deferrals. With Someone Else that was made very cheaply with contributions from friends and family and bank loans. What I like about doing it cheaply is that you get the bank loan and you’re in pre-production. Also when you make a film under the radar, there’s less pressure on everyone.
How did you cast Gerard Kearns in this film?
I met him at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival a couple of years ago, I was there with Someone Else and he was with Mark of Cain. We hung out one night and he was a nice guy, and so different than the character (gay teenager Ian Gallagher) he plays in Shameless. I really thought he could be an everyman, it’s really hard to find an everyman in a film who is a normal bloke but he’s got a vulnerable side. He had that. So a few years later, he was old enough to play this guy approaching 30. He was perfect, he’s really talented.
With Someone Else and Honeymooner, you are focusing on very believable male characters that aren’t the typical ones we see on screen.
I don’t like those kind of scenes about guys picking up girls, that laddy thing. So I wanted to find something a little more interesting. Men are funny in their own way, if it’s realistic rather than caricature.
Will you try to tackle female characters?
The thing I’m co-writing is someone else’s story, it’s about a 25-year-old female. I don’t think there are that many men who write women brilliantly.
How do you feel being part of the New British Cinema Quarterly?
I think it’s a great thing, I like being part of something. You travel around doing Q&As, and people like the idea of cinema as an event, it’s more of a night out.