SCENES OF A SEXUAL NATURE - Q&A with director ED BLUM and writer ASCHLIN DITTA
Movie Interview by Neils Hesse
Ed, what was it like directing all these big people, big stars?
ED BLUM: I think the real excitement was when you're told that all these actors are coming on board. In the production office it was an incredibly exciting moment when we realised that included Catherine Tate and Ewan McGregor. Then you realise it's going to be a much bigger film. Then I started to get a moment of fear and because the shoot was set up so quickly and we only had two to three days per scene. There was actually not much fear working with these actors, it was actually a great joy because they were so professional and so good that it just allowed the process to move so much quicker, so each actor trusted the other actor and from the moment they walked on to the set we were flying. In a strange way it was actually easier to work with such accomplished actors than working with people who have less experience, it was a joy and I think they did an amazing job.
Aschlin, what would you say you were really trying to capture in this film?
ASCHLIN DITTA: It is all about how men and women talk to each other, but the reason why we set it on the Heath, well I am always fascinated walking through parks because you see all sorts of things. I think that's where people go to have affairs, or break up, make up or propose - it's an interesting arena of expression. We talked a lot about stories before, but we wanted to present certain stories hopefully from different angles, like the couple who are actually celebrating their divorce, not something you usually see on film or gay men talking about kids they are generally stereotyped into certain areas, so we deliberately wanted to do those kind of things.
Ed is there any film or director that influenced the way you made this film?
ED BLUM: There are a lot of directors that I love which on this occasion I couldn't afford but there are two particular films that are done by the same director, BEFORE SUNSET and BEFORE SUNRISE. The films are about two people walking, the second one around Paris. Great script, great acting, funny and delicate, beautiful and I thought how strong is that. The other film is Jim Jarmusch's NIGHT ON EARTH which was just four wives' thoughts, not connected but a great film. So there is always a risk in doing a film which hasn't got a linear narrative but when you look at those two directors working with that type of material you think well actually it's the audience who are going to get into the script and if the material is good and is performed well by the actors and the director doesn't get in the way then you've got a really good film. So for me as a director when I was working out how I could film this, those two -films and directors - were very important.
ASCHLIN DITTA: I love that sort of talent like Jim Jarmusch and Richard Linklater, they don't worry about big events they just allow the characters to say what they want to say.
Aschlin, so when you were writing did you already visualise some actors in certain scenes. I assume Catherine Tate in particular was always going to be in that divorce scene?
ASCHLIN DITTA: I seemed to have written mostly for Catherine, so I have always had her in my head. Yeah sometimes you do, but I wouldn't have dreamt, I couldn't have pictured who we actually got. I might have thought of people on telly, but yes you do sort of have an idea of the look or feel of the actors even if it doesn't work out that way I think that you still have to have some sort of an idea.
Ed, which would you say was the hardest scene to get right?
ED BLUM: We had one scene - because it rained. I had a scene which we had to shoot in two days, and it rained one day so we had to shoot one whole scene in one day and I'm not saying which scene it is, that's 14 minutes in one day. So in terms of the pressure to get it right, that was tough.
Ed and Aschlin, do you have dream projects that you would like to work on or are already working on?
ASCHLIN DITTA: The dream for me as a British screenwriter is to work continuously in film and hopefully after this it will. It is hard in this country to be a film writer, it just is, it's not where the living is made. Specifically I am now coming to terms with writing romantic comedies, and I say that because I'm a bloke and I'm a football fan and I spent many years refusing to watch WHEN HARRY MET SALLY and now I seem to be writing romantic comedies. So I would like to write another one of them really.
ED BLUM: For me there's no project in particular, but I'd like to go off and make a really big budget film that pays me lot's of money! No I just haven't had a chance to read any scripts, because we are distributing the films ourselves. I'll have a break and then read some scripts, see what's out there and I'll just see what happens. Maybe somebody will send me a really good script.
Which actor would you say surprised you the most in the way they brought the character to life?
ED BLUM: I thought the dog. No seriously the dog had only been to one year doggy school, but anyway the owners were quite nervous trying to train the dog. So we were on set with Sophie Okonedo, Tom Hardy and this dog, so I decided to shoot the dog after the scene was done. So we had some sweets by Tom Hardy's feet and then the dog just jumped in for the sweets, and Tom ran off and it ran after him, it was all one take, and all the other actors are really accomplished actors so they performed beautifully.
Ed and Aschlin what kinds of films do you normally watch?
ED BLUM: Well I suppose one of my favourite films is THE INSIDER by Michael Mann. I love the way it's shot, the acting, Russell Crowe, Al Pacino, the scope of it, it maintains the human quality in the tragedy of this man and the fact that it's society as a whole against the little man. It's something that fascinates me. Can an individual make a difference against society or can society crush him? And because it's also based on a true story, so all those elements are there. It's an amazing film. Then films like SOME LIKE IT HOT. Every time I watch it I still laugh! Billy Wilder is probably my favourite director and there are other films like THE INSIDER which I can just watch and watch again.
ASCHLIN DITTA: I'm a big fan of Billy Wilder and Neil Simon. Recently I am a massive fan of Alexander Payne, and the other day I saw LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE and it was great. Those types of films are funny, about big issues but just a joy to watch.