Producer Pierre Mascolo and writer/director George Isaac talk family values, leading ladies and A-list actors on the set of their glossy London set thriller All Things To All Men.
Synopsis: A contemporary London-set thriller about a crook caught between a maverick police officer and a crime lord.
Writer/Director: George Isaac
Producers: Pierre Mascolo and George Isaac for their company Cipher Films, which they set up in 2003 to make the BAFTA winning short film Nits. They went on to co-produce/finance Kidulthood and Adulthood.
Cast: Gabriel Byrne, Rufus Sewell, Toby Stephens, Julian Sands, Elsa Pataky, Pierre Mascolo, Leo Gregory, Terence Maynard, James Frain, David Schofield.
Financing: Financed entirely through Cipher Films with backing from Toni Mascolo.
Filming location: London
Status: Currently shooting for seven weeks
Release date: Autumn 2012
On starting out in the business:
Pierre Mascolo: My father [Toni Mascolo, co-founder of hairdressing chain Toni & Guy] wanted me to get involved in the family business, but I said I want to be an actor [he also stars in the film as well as producing] and make films. I think he thought it would pass, but we made the short film Nits, [directed by Harry Wootliff] which got BAFTA nominated and so he agreed to invest some more money in our company Cipher Films. We found Kidulthood and he gave the first bit of investment, £350,000, for that. And we had to go and source the rest.
George Isaac: People told us to do lots of short films before doing a feature film, but we couldn’t work out how to better Nits. And the problem with short films is you are spending money but nothing is coming back in. So we took the plunge and made Kidulthood.
On the origins of All Things To All Men:
GI: None of the screenplays we were receiving as producers really grabbed us. And we realised that if we wanted to adapt a book, we would have to option it, then there was paying the lawyer and all the other costs.
Pierre and I took a holiday to Mexico. And while we were on the beach I said, ‘Maybe it would be better if I try and write a screenplay.’ He said, ‘I’ve been waiting for you to tell me that for years.’
I had never written anything before. But I had picked things up from producing. After 18 months I presented the screenplay to Pierre. He told me he thought it was a thing of beauty, which was nice to hear! And at that point we decided to make the film.
On the inspiration for the film:
GI: I have taken influence from The Driver, French Connection, Marathon Man and visually, from Layer Cake and The Long Good Friday. This is very much an old school ’70s style character-driven thriller, but it’s set in contemporary London, and it lets the characters drive the story.
On shooting in London:
PM: We wanted London to be one of our leading ladies. But we wanted to stay away from the gritty, gangster, Lock Stock route, because it’s been done. This is glossy London. But for some reason these glossy, swish movies aren’t being made in London. We are great for our period dramas, or our gangster films, or Love Actually.
We’ve got 84 locations including the London Eye, which I believe has never been filmed before. Going inside the pod, we got some beautiful shots. And we’ve got Canary Wharf, with its blue sheen. It’s looking swish and sparkly and glamorous.
GI: I knew when I started writing that I wanted to show London in its most glorious form. I’m from West London and I wrote a sequence in Shepherds Bush Market, because I remember my mum taking me down there as a kid.
On the A-list cast:
GM: I was nervous the first couple of days, but now I’ve found my rhythm. And it makes it easier to communicate with the actors, because I’ve written the words. We really wanted to keep it quintessentially British. That’s why we have stuck to a British cast. I wrote Gabriel Byrne’s character with him in mind.
PM: The actors came onboard because of the quality of the script. The nice things is, no one is number one. It’s an ensemble piece. The title says it all. And it actually means that all the actors are lifting their game up.
My dad has a business with over 4,000 employees in the UK, but he treats it like a family. That’s the kind of atmosphere I wanted to create on this set.
On what’s next?
PM: We have a few ideas, but it’s all ideas at the moment. We are in the midst of this right now. We’re flatmates as well, so when we go home we watch rushes and look at how we can improve the film to make it the best movie it can possibly be. It’s 24/7!