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Quite a coup getting Michael Fassbender to star in your film – how did this come about?
Time-travel – pick a great actor, go back in time, cast them in a short. Seriously, it goes back to when Michael wasn’t known like he is now. The casting director suggested I met him and, like everyone else I guess, I knew I wanted to work with him! It was a good day in fact… I then met my wife that evening.
How did you come to write this script? What inspired it and how did it evolve?
I guess it was based on those ‘in your twenties’ relationships lots of people have, where maybe you play house and maybe take it all too seriously. Then I had this trippy thought about comparing that to two fish in a tank who, through genuine confinement, actually have to work it out. Then I really liked the idea of a wildlife shoot in the foreground and an equally improvised human / animal story in the background. It was in the early days of digital HD and I was attracted to the thought of letting the camera run on both strands and shaping the final offering in the edit [with my great friend Struan Clay of Final Cut – which is why editor comes up so high in the credits list]. I was inspired by the great film ivansXTC. So sat down to try and write it. The fish wrote themselves easier than the humans.
It’s beautifully shot and lit – was the location always in your mind when you wrote the narrative?
Thanks. Ben Butler lit it. The apartment was actually a tiny set created by Richard Selway. I always knew the set needed to echo the fish tank: lots of glass, clean lines, shapes to peer at the action through. All at once, both beautiful and confining. Then for the exteriors, a couple of us easy-jetted to Mallorca with some 16mm re-cans.
What were the main challenges of producing the film – from shoot to edit – and how did you resolve them?
The biggest hiccup… we used the first generation Sony HD cameras. Arri had the only two in the whole of Europe and they were still in R&D final testing so we got them for free. And we did our part of the deal too – finding out they had a thermal cut-out with no reset switch. We had Guy Hazel at the top of the smallest studio at Black Island, filming our topshot. Re-creating Mallorcan light with hot tungsten lamps in the too-small space, the heat up there was immense. Guy had stripped off, but never needed much excuse for that, so we didn’t take much notice until the camera blacked out. Sunday night, a load more shots to do and the only other matching camera in all of Europe was safely locked up at Arri until we woke up Bill Lovell, their MD, and he went to get it and drove it over to us – impressive!
Any other nice stories?
The v/o artists for the two fish, Terence and Yandis, are now happily married.