Sunday, August 07, 2011

Interview with Paddy Considine - 27th October, 2009

Promoting: Le Donk & Scor-zay-see
Venue: Warp Office, London
Interview type: Round table

ViewLondon (VL): Who were your influences as a kid? Did you grow up watching films? Are you a bit of a film buff?

Paddy Considine (PC): Yeah. I'm not a film buff now, in terms of, you talk to some people about a film and they can tell you when it was directed, what film stock it was shot on, who did the catering and all that, but I was hugely influenced by films and television. When I was really young I was just totally obsessed with the escapism of Star Wars and the Superman movies, Clash of the Titans, things like that. It wasn't till I got a bit older, when I saw Rocky, that was the first film really that I watched and kind of went, 'Oh, wow'. Also, on TV there were things like Walter, Stephen Frears' film, I still remember that, the night it went out, on Channel 4, the first night of Channel 4. And then it turned into a lot of sort of drama, Alan Clarke's stuff, which was speaking a bit more about where I was at the time. And then the world opened up when it got into the Scorsese stuff and Coppola, who I think is the most astonishing film-maker living. Why he doesn't make films now, I don't know. And then the more realist territory, that kind of work. Ken Loach's Kes, for example, is my favourite British film ever made. I think when you see such naturalism in the performances, you're growing up in that kind of place, it speaks to you.

VL: Can you talk us through how Le Donk came about? You'd made short films with the character beforehand, hadn't you?

PC: Yeah, we did. We'd had him for a long time. I was just mimicking guys around the music scene in Burton-on-Trent, the little town we lived in. I just started mimicking these characters for mine and Shane's amusement and then after Shane started making films and I did Romeo Brass with him, we found ourselves with a lot of time on our hands, really – I was back on the dole and stuff trying to get work, so in that time we found ourselves making short films and I just put on wigs and put in teeth and would just do characters. We literally had nothing planned, we'd just grab a floppy hat and a wig and some teeth and create characters – it was liberating to do that, to go into town that day and say, 'Can we get into Burton Albion football ground?' to do some filming and that's how the short films came about. Le Donk was like that, it was just literally put the hat and wig on, let's go for a drive and see what happens. And we would go round people's houses who weren't expecting us to be there – it was a bit unfair, really, on some of them, but Le Donk would just pile in the house and away you go. And we always found it funny, but we always just thought it was just an in-joke and would only be funny to us.

VL: When did you decide to use him in a film?

PC: We tried to do something bigger with him before – we wrote a film with him as the main character but it didn't work. Whenever you tried to script him or anything, it was just bad, it just didn't work. He just has to sort of be alive and let this stream-of-consciousness come out of his gob and let him get on with it. But he wouldn't go away and so we got the opportunity to be at this Old Trafford gig where the Arctic Monkeys were playing and we just took him up there and made a story up and it just all fell into place. And it really was how it happened, Scor-zay-zee came on board, all the stuff about him walking around and plugging in a keyboard is true. And it was really liberating – I think I'd got a bit fed up of waiting around for other people to tell you when you can go and be creative. There's a process with making films and a certain way of doing things and with Le Donk we just thought, 'We didn't use to have to do this, we didn't use to have to have script meetings and wait for you to give us the go-ahead' so we just did it off our own backs and hoped that people liked it and if not, it was just an expensive in-joke. Well, not dead expensive, but a fifty grand in-joke.

VL: Speaking of in-jokes, I love the gag with [co-star] Olivia Coleman's baby. You didn't just think, 'Well, let's just use a different baby?'

PC: Oh yeah. No, it was just one of those things of like, if that's how big it is, we'll just have to get around it. And it's part of the charm. Because a lot of references have been made to things that have influenced this film, like Saxondale, and it wasn't that at all – I've only ever seen half an episode of that. I was working in Canada years ago and it was more stuff like the Trailer Park Boys and this Canadian film called FUBAR, which was also all improvised, like Le Donk. I thought that was fantastic and I showed it to Shane. So it's more from that than anything we've seen over here, although someone made a reference to Paul Calf's Video Diaries, which was fair enough – he was a bit ahead of his time in terms of how reality goes and everything.

VL: Since you mentioned Saxondale, someone mentioned at the Edinburgh Q&A that Steve Coogan ripped Saxondale off Le Donk because he'd seen the videos. Is that true?

PC: Well, the truth of it is, we'd shot the short films and when I did 24 Hour Party People, I gave Steve all these shorts that we'd done and he watched Romeo Brass and he watched these shorts and he really liked them. That's as much as I know about it. And then when it crops up years later as a series about a roadie in the Midlands it's like, “That's Le Donk”. I'm not kidding you – I had about a dozen calls and texts that day, who knew, going, 'Have you read this thing? It's Le Donk.” So you can call it coincidence. I think the point from us is, I don't care if Steve saw Le Donk and digested it and somewhere in his head then forgot it and came up with a great original idea – I don't care about that. I think our annoyance was that we want people to know that we did not rip off Saxondale, that's the only important thing.

VL: What have you got coming up?

PC: I'm doing a film called Submarine, with Richard Ayoade. We're shooting it in Wales and it's a great little character, a bit of a David Icke-style guru. It was just fun to do and with Richard, who's directing it, there wasn't a second thought about doing that film. I just really wanted to work with him.


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