Cinema is about telling human stories and the politics need to be in the back." Those words may come as a surprise from Salford-born director Pete Travis, whose last two feature films are powerful political dramas.
In 2004, his debut feature, Omagh, followed a family in the aftermath of the 1998 Real IRA bombing in Northern Ireland. The film received high critical acclaim and scooped a Bafta TV award for best drama (it was not released theatrically in the UK) and won best screenplay at the Toronto International Film Festival. Working closely with the families of those killed in the tragedy, Travis describes it as one of his "most moving and powerful experiences".
"It's one of those things that if you get it once in your life as a director, you're very lucky to bear witness to such an extraordinary story," he says.
And now Travis has had a wholly different experience on his first studio film, Vantage Point, starring Dennis Quaid, Forest Whitaker, Sigourney Weaver and William Hurt. The film, distributed through Sony Pictures Releasing International, opened at number one in the US charts in its first weekend and has generated $65.6m worldwide at time of press. The thriller shows an assassination attempt on the US president from eight points of view.
"The film is really about ways of seeing the world," says Travis. "The truth isn't black and white and everything you think you know isn't what you think it is. The truth lies in the heart of all the characters and not just one of them and that in itself is a statement about tolerance - that's where the politics lie."
Travis said the transition from a small UK-Irish co-production to major US studio production was an easy one and compares it to playing football and making the step up to the Premiership from the lower divisions.
"You still have to be able to kick the ball in the same way, you still need the skills, just on a totally different scale," he says. "You have all of the resources you need plus you get to work with extraordinary actors like Hurt, Weaver, Quaid and Whitaker. To get one of those in a movie is great, but to get all of them is, frankly, totally ridiculous."
While Travis enjoyed the Hollywood experience, he insists he is not shunning small films just yet. "It's all about finding a story that you passionately feel you have to tell otherwise you can't breathe. When I read the story for Vantage Point, I would have killed people to make that film."
Now Travis is in early stages of another political thriller, Endgame, a small film about the secret talks that brought down the apartheid regime in South Africa. It has yet to be cast but Travis hopes Hurt will jump on board.
"I kind of fell in love with him when shooting Vantage Point. If he was (running for) president, I would vote for him. But I won't get political."