What was it about the original script that attracted you to shooting the film? And how detailed was the script, did you create the various scenarios in your treatment?
I liked the conceit of painting the town black. The script was loose, it had some images in, but allowed me to add scenarios and images. For me scenarios usually develop from location and cast.
The film is to highlight the forthcoming global celebration of Arthur’s Day, the founder of Guinness, on September 27th and you use a laid-back village to shoot in. Where was the location and how did the locals respond to having their town painted black?
The locals were great, and really helped out. It was two different villages in Transylvania.
Casting seems to be a very important part of your work. Can you explain your casting process?
I like to street cast where possible. So we research the places we’re going to, and find out where the type of people we’re looking for will be. For this we visited lots of gypsy villages and camps where I set up scenes and filmed them on a flip cam.
We did this over the course of a week to find the cast. Basically I like to see every cast member, I don’t like picking extras out of a book. I like to street cast them.
One village we were in, as we were leaving a guy spoke to the translator and said ‘can you wait while I get my saxophone.’ We said yes, thinking a saxophone would look pretty good.
Ten minutes later he came back with a crushed beer can with some plastic fastened to it. He played it like a kazoo. We cast him immediately.
The girl who paints her face is the make up artist from the shoot. I often cast crew members.
I hear this was shot on 35mm. You often shoot on film. Are you concerned that it’s a dying format?
I personally prefer the look of film. Project dependant I try and shoot film. I would like to see more shot on film. I don’t know if it’s a dying format, they just shot loads of Batman on 15perf 65mm.
The Alexa is popular at the moment in commercials.
We have to ask – it’s black, slick and slimey, what did you use and was that after quite a bit of experimentation with black stuff?
There were lots of tests. We ended up with glucose and black food colouring, some combination like that I think.
The editing slickly brings together the story. Was every scene carefully storyboarded or were there script developments while you shot?
I always storyboard, but then like to shoot around the boards. So, set a scene up and capture it. Often the best shots aren’t storyboarded. If you stick to a storyboard too much the end product can end up looking like an animatic.
Anything else challenging about the production?
I had great production, from producer Dougal Meese and production manager Sam Chitty to the Romanian production company Digital Spirit. They made it possible to street cast 300 gypsies and paint a town black. So they dealt with the main challenges.
None of the cast, male or female, wore underwear. This proved a challenge for Hannah Edwards, the stylist.
Director: Daniel Wolfe
Agency: Saatchi & Saatchi