Imaginative, gripping and elegantly written – please tell us how the narrative for H Positive came about. What was the initial trigger for the script and did it go through many changes to get to the final film?
I came across an A5 image of Julijonas Urbonas’ Death Coaster at the Welcome Trust exhibition in Euston. The blurb next to the image had me hooked. I remember reading “the physics are actually sound so if someone did build this, it would cause celebral hypoxia and certain death”.
I contacted Julijonas and said that I would like to write a short film centred around his roller coaster idea and that is how it all begun.
During this time, I had also met a psychopath and that experience shaped my particular writing style for the short.
Personally, the choice of euthanasia is such an important issue and it should seen from a different perspective. I wanted to start a debate around the subject through a short film which I hope it has.
It’s been intriguing having people contact me explaining their circumstances and wanting to see if I’m actually going to make the roller coaster for real and having Sir Patrick Stewart tweet about it helped spread the word.
I must have written around 40 different versions before we went to shoot. It was such an important process and I look back on the first draft with shock (far too many coffees that day).
The post and build of the rollercoaster looks insanely complicated. What did that involve?
It was important to find a roller coaster as close to Julijonas’ blueprint as possible and, to find a roller coaster overlooking woodland rather than overlooking Space Mountain or a Ferris Wheel.
It needed to feel authentic as the impact of the short depended on it and through a lot of searching, I found a roller coaster in Madrid called “The Superman” at Parque Warner.
I had a very patient post team at The Mill that really stepped up to the challenge on this one as The Superman roller coaster is actually red, blue and yellow so we only shot at certain times of day to avoid those garish colours.
What were the main challenges of the production and how did you resolve them?
Because of my background as a producer, it was important to keep a tight reign on cash but more importantly, to allow me the creative freedom I needed to make this film.
To add to the stress, I successfully raised £20,000 on Kickstarter to make the film but it was everyone else’s money so I needed to make sure that I did a good job on the film (or everyone would want their money back I’m sure…)
I also had a great, experienced team behind me from TwentyFour-Seven Films and Academy Films which really gave me the confidence to do this.
You were Head of Film at Grey London – what are your plans now?
I’m currently pitching on music videos and commercials, hoping to convert one of them in the not so distant future. It’s funny as I’ve spent so many years producing commercials with slow-mo drinking shots, or perfect front 3/4 shots of cars etc etc that my own mind now goes to a lot darker places when I think of ideas for music vids. I’m sure a psychologist would have a field day.
And, I’ve just finished writing my first feature screenplay during my gardening leave from Grey which I’m immensely proud of. Even if my Mum and the cats are the only ones that read it, at least I gave a decent stab at it.
What would be your dream directing job?
There isn’t a specific dream directing job for me to be honest. I would rather direct a film that outlives me (and this is obviously the biggest dream of all and clearly very delusional).
List five inspirations that have connected with you recently – these can be films, music videos, books, architecture, people, anything you like!
I watched Kramer Vs Kramer for the first time recently and I still think about it every day.
Dogtooth is a great, original film that I’ve recently watched and it really got under my skin.
The music video “Love Again” by Run The Jewels got me insanely jealous (because it’s that good). It made me want to man hug the director Ninian Doff for doing such a great job. (I’ve never met him but now, I want him to sign my boobs).
Anything else you’d like to share?
I recently directed a commercial for Audible which was part of the Alien franchise. The budget was crazy tiny but it’s now screening in cinemas (my mum’s happy with this one). (See showcase).