Bullet Boy (2004) – with director Saul Dibb

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Movie Interview by Ania Kalinowska

Saul Dibb is the director of Bullet Boy.


This is your feature film debut. What is it like going from documentaries to full-length features?

It’s hard; a real challenge. Some things overlap, but there are many differences – especially in working with actors – and writing a fictional script and making it believable is a difficult thing. Filming also requires more work; you’re dealing with many more people (in terms of crew) as opposed to creating a documentary.

From which character’s perspective did you most see BULLET BOY?

I’m trying to see it from both the brothers’ viewpoints, but ultimately from Curtis’ point of view, as in his perspective on his older brother. It’s like a child’s view of a world that he doesn’t really understand. In a sense it’s also his [Curtis’] future that we’re worried about by the end of the film.

Any particular message we should get from the film from your side?

No – I prefer it if a film raises issues and poses questions that the audience can think about afterwards by themselves. We all know that guns do terrible things to people but the situation is more complicated than that. The film is more about trying to make people see it through another person’s point of view; their situation in life and the choices that they make.

BULLET BOY deals with a sick-cycle carousel of violence. Is it based on any particular real life events that you’ve experienced?

No, as such it wasn’t based on any real incident. However, both the co-writer and I used to live next to a road that was like a rat run of cars, and we used to see these massive arguments develop between people that just wouldn’t give way, and part of the story grew out of that – what happens between people who argue, and how these arguments can just build up.

The realism in the movie is shocking – especially the shooting sequences. Surely you must have seen someone being shot in order to have recreated it so authentically?

Never. I suppose I was just aware that when somebody does get shot it’s a very shocking and brutal thing, it’s not casual at all, and that’s what I wanted to convey.

You’re no stranger to tackling shocking subjects. What compels you to take these on?

It’s always interesting to look at areas where people have a lot of received wisdom about a subject. In BULLET BOY for example, they have a lot of ideas about the kind of people who get involved with shooting others, and the idea is to get beyond those headlines, to get beyond what people find shocking and look at the people themselves and their motivations behind all that. I choose these subjects because I think there’s a different story to tell underneath, which maybe has been neglected in some way, or the way we understand it is not the way that I see it.

What are your (shocking) future plans?

I’m working on developing a book called Sickened, based on the true story of a girl whose mother continually took her to hospital for illnesses she didn’t have. I don’t know if that’s shocking, but certainly powerful!