London To Brighton and Cherry Tree Lane director Paul Andrew Williams talks about shooting his surprisingly upbeat fourth film which features pensioners body popping and singing about sex.
Synopsis: A comedic drama about a grumpy pensioner who is persuaded to join an unconventional local choir run by a young music teacher.
Director/writer: Paul Andrew Williams
Producer: Ken Marshall
Production company: Steel Mill Pictures (Paul Andrew Williams’ and Ken Marshall’s production company)
Co-producers/financiers: Coolmore Productions in partnership with Egoli Tossell Film and Film House Germany.
Cast: Terence Stamp plays the grumpy pensioner, Vanessa Redgrave plays his wife, Christopher Eccleston is his son and Gemma Arterton plays the music teacher who runs the local choir.
Financing: Northern Film and Media (£150,000) via its Creative Content Fund in partnership with Northstar Ventures.
Countries of Production: UK
Shoot locations: North East of England
Shoot dates: July 18 for five weeks
International sales: eOne
Distribution: UK and Canada (eOne), Germany and Switzerland (Ascot Elite), Australia (Hopscotch), France (Haut et Court)
Release date: 2012
On the strong British cast:
Paul Andrew Williams: It’s a fantastically good cast. Working with such great actors makes my job so much easier. They are very easy to direct because they know so much anyway. When you write it you have no idea what you are going to end up with. The fact that we have got all these people is perfect.
On the challenges of the shoot:
The weather has been pretty bad which has been a bit of a challenge. Also, the last few films I’ve worked on the most people I’ve had to direct in one setting is seven people and on this we have hundreds of extras [the film also features local choirs from the North East of England]. But it’s generally been very positive and we’ve had a lot of fun. The crew is a mix of people I’ve worked with before and local crew, and it’s a great team.
On moving away from the grittiness of London To Brighton and Cherry Tree Lane to a more upbeat comedic tone:
The content is more upbeat, but there is still an element of urbanness. We are filming around estates, community centres, popularised areas, the city. On the one hand it is a brighter and upbeat story with so much smiling and joking and laughing and good feeling in the performances, but it’s about people who live normal lives in normal places and the family issues that come with that.
On where the idea came from:
It came from the nicer bit of my head. It came from certain personal experiences with family and being inspired by the fact that old people have a life and that there is a generation that is still there.
This film has got old people body popping, dancing, singing about sex, wearing heavy metal gear. We’ve got an old woman called Denise who is playing the drums, with a big heavy metal wig on. It’s about people having fun.