Slider Image
Slider Image
Slider Image
16th March 2018
Behind closed doors
Title of film: Rodney
Director: Fred Rowson
Production Company: Blink
Fred Rowson's evolving series on mad, bad, eccentric suburbia where the streets and houses are uniform and superficially dull… but the people are anything but.

Rodney almost feels as if he could be a down-the-road neighbour of Pauline’s –   what draws you to get under the skin of these suburban eccentric characters?

I love wondering what goes on in living rooms and back gardens. Especially somewhere like London, where there is no such thing as uniformity. And in the suburbs, I think, it becomes more pronounced. Because the streets and houses are uniform, and superficially dull… but the people are anything but. Perhaps it’s because I’m too polite, but I do like listening to the oddballs and bores who you come across outside of Central London. Lifelong suburbanites. In amongst all of their madness there’s always a quiet pathos or dignity. So maybe these stories are my attempt to get people to think twice about mad cat ladies and bag men who stand on the corner…

How did Rodney, naughty Rodney, first come to life – and what triggered the plot?

Precisely the desire to tell another one of these stories. I found myself in the lucky position of being able to make a new short film and – for the first time in a long time – I sat down with a blank piece of paper and began to wonder. There were men like Rodney all over Lewisham when I was growing up, and strange legends would always build up about them amongst kids at primary school – so that’s always been a source of fascination. And then I was watching a weird combination of classic American documentaries like Grey Gardens and Gates of Heaven, alongside trashy true crime and Channel 5 programs like the Nightmare Neighbour Next Door. And then there always has to be a dead cat or missing dog in everything I make, so I thought ‘why not make it more central, this time?’

Are you a disciplined writer – please describe your writing routine and when do you know the script is ready to shoot?

I think I’m disciplined. I hope I am. I’m disciplined to the extent that I do it every day, even if only for 5 minutes (but hopefully for longer) which at least means that I’m thinking subconsciously about what I’m writing all day, every day. I always write in the mornings, as early as possible. And I’m a great believer in just writing something, anything, even if it’s rubbish, because then at least you can go back through and work on it to make it better. Rather than obsessively and precisely planning everything, which is what most screenwriting books tell you to do. And then it’s ready on the day we’ve got in the diary to shoot! And even then it’s not ready because you’ll tweak lines with actors, and condense scenes and beats when you realise there’s a simpler way to do it on the day… and then you re-write it again, in the edit!

Was it a straight forward production?  

It was. I have a group of people – HoDs, friends, family members – who I bring back on every shoot. Obviously there are always some change ups – Paul Özgür, who shot this, I hadn’t worked with before, but now he’s part of the clan… but this approach means that my productions are always generally smooth. That said, there’s always one element which metastasizes on every job, depending on the script, and this time it was the Art Department, which became a humungous task, with so many graves to make and Rodney’s entire house to design, so that’s where I enlisted a lot of help from my family and I also painted a fair few graves myself, just to avoid sending my Production Designer to an early grave!

What part of the filmmaking process do you enjoy the most?

The shoot is the best. I know that some directors suffer through it, and it’s all about the writing or the edit, but I love being on set and pushing it all through. That feels like it’s what the job’s about, and when things are going well on a shoot, there’s nothing better.

What are you working on now? 

Usually I’d say ‘not much’, but I’m in the edit for something very big at the moment, which will be released in installments over the first half of the year… and indeed the first part may even already be out when you read this! (Ed: Indeed it is – take a look at Fred’s new music video for Years & Years, Sanctify here).

Anything else you’d like to share?

Just that you haven’t heard the last from the world of Pauline, Rodney and Woodhouse… there’s something else coming, hopefully sooner rather than later, that’s going to kick everything up a gear…!



Rodney Production Company: Blink Writer & Director: Fred Rowson Executive Producer: Paul Weston Producers: Rob Jelley, Paul Weston, Corin Taylor Production Manager: Abi Jones DoP: Paul Ozgur 1st AD: Rory Shaw Art Director: Ollie Hogan Assistant Art Directors: Tors Beadle, Jack Booth Art Department Assistants: Edward Soolia, Emine Oktay Graves & Titles Artwork: Martin Rowson Book Cover Artwork: Rose Rowson Newspaper Design: Marisa Wasboonma Wardrobe Stylist: Hannah Hopkins Wardrobe Assistant: Rachel Owen Focus Puller: Toby Goodger Clapper Loaders: Sam Hayes, Kit Mackenzie Gaffer: Vincent Prunier Electrician: Greg Probert Additional Photography: Edgar Dubrovski Casting Director: Kharmel Cochrane Location Scout: Isabella Ramsay Hair and Make-Up: Emma Croft Sound Recordist: Calum Sample Runners: Ethan Iveson, Isaac Sneade, Ryan O’Connor Post Production: Framestore London Post Production Producer: Chris Anthon Edit & Sound: Final Cut London Editor: Ryan Beck Edit Producer: Laura Harris Assistant Editor: Elyse Raphael Sound Designer: Fred Pearson Animation: Chris Bristow Flame Op: Katie Rhodes Colourist: Edwin Metternich Original Music: FATHER Music Supervisor: Connie Edwards