In anticipation of the release today of Hello Carter, I was granted the opportunity to interview the director Anthony Wilcox (@wilcoxant) who was more than happy to talk about his debut feature length movie:
What was the genesis of Hello Carter, and is Carter based on yourself personally?
It started life as a short film. Although the story of the feature is quite different, the central character and tone remained the same. There probably are elements of me in Carter inadvertently but I never set out to do that. I wanted an unconventional lead character, someone who's aspirations for the end of the story would probably only be the starting point for a more conventional movie 'hero'.
You made quite a leap from short films to a debut feature as both writer and director. Was that always the intention or was the time just right?
I've worked on feature films for a long time as an assistant director so the thought of directing in that form never felt overwhelming. I made three short films as a writer/director before this.
The influence that jumped out to me was Scorsese's 'After Hours', why does that film resonate with you?
I watched After Hours when I was about 16 and remember immediately thinking I'd never seen london depicted in a film that way. How we represented the city was really important from the outset.
Any other filmic influences to take note of? in my review I say Charlie Cox channels Hugh Grant but this is far removed from the Curtis universe of perfect Britain in 'Notting Hill'?
I looked at British and American films mainly. I was interested in the aesthetic of ‘London' films like Naked and Wonderland but wanted to try a story with a splash of magical realism. More like we're perhaps more used to seeing in American indies like 500 Days of Summer or Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, things like that.
Did you always want to film in London on the streets? How long was the shoot?
We shot for 5 weeks. Yes, I very much wanted this to be a Londoner’s view of London, rather than a movie view of the city. So we tried to keep the journeys and locations as real as possible.
What was Paul Schneider like to have on set? Coming from Hollywood to a British independent debut feature might have been a fish out of water experience?
Paul has such an enthusiasm and passion for filmmaking that he's a gift to have around. He'll know every single person's name on the crew within 24 hours plus he’ll care and be interested in what they contribute to the film. His energy kept us going. I'd worked with him on Bright Star when I was an AD so we knew each other and how British independent crews work was no surprise to him.
How much do you value your relationship with DoP Andrew Dunn?
As highly as it's possible to. He's not only brilliant at understanding how his work can enhance and develop story but he's such a calming influence on set too. For me, as a first time director, to collaborate with someone of his skill and experience was invaluable.
How did Michael Winterbottom get involved?
I first worked for Revolution films on 24 Hour Party People a long, long time ago when I was a 3rd AD. Since then I’ve worked on 8 or 9 films with Michael and his producer Andrew Eaton in various roles. They’re always keen for people they work with to make their own films so were very supportive with this. They were never involved in a hands-on way but I always had them and their wisdom to call on when it was required.
Are you pleased by the general positive response to the film? What is next?
I’m probably someone that will never be pleased by their own work! I’ve learnt a tremendous amount through the experience of Hello Carter and can’t wait to use that experience when shooting the next film. I’ve been writing and developing a script with the BFI which is an ensemble piece - about a group of British people in a European holiday resort for a wedding. We aim to shoot next year.
HELLO CARTER is in cinemas 5 December and on DVD & Digital 8 December