Your new movie The Great Charade
- in a few words, what is it about?
premise for The Great Charade is simple. The
world's two most famous actors are kidnapped and held at the mercy of
those who adore them the most; their fans. But
on a subtler level, The
Great Charade is about the gap between the image people present
of themselves, and who they actually are. This was an idea that was
definitely influenced by people's use of social media. No one ever shares
any of the bad stuff; it's never, 'I feel fat and vulnerable today', or 'I
hate my husband and I'm only with him for the money.' Instead, most of the
western world has fallen into the trap of pretending to be happy all the
time, believing that in order to have worth they must be skinny, and
you're the height of sophistication if you eat avocado toast and go to the
gym. So when we were discussing the idea of the two most influential people in
the world being kidnapped, we couldn't help but play with subverting
expectations. Thus, within this film, we explore what might happen if the
walls came down, and we really got to see what Ryan and Amara, two rich,
beautiful people, were thinking.
What were your sources of inspiration when writing The
idea first came about when we were in the car and I
Can't Decide by The Scissor Sisters came on the
radio. If you're familiar with the song you'll know that the lyrics
essentially detail an assortment of colourful ways to kill someone. It was
Dan's idea to make a film about someone deciding whether or not to kill
someone, and if so, in what way and to what end. Rodeo then span the idea
on its head and suggested having two celebrities kidnapped by their fans.
From there the idea grew into the greater concept that perhaps everyone is
playing a part to a certain degree, and maybe the reason we're told not to
meet our heroes is that they're not all they're cracked up to be. This got
us thinking about what might happen if someone seriously deranged fell in
love with a celebrity, but when meeting them, was confronted with a
completely different character to what they thought.
wanted to illustrate the heady lust for fame and fortune that drives so
many to make the pilgrimage to Hollywood. We also wanted to capture the
depravity that lurks just below the surface, rearing its ugly head only
once in a while to grab a headline and then slink back out of sight. The
main antagonist, Lyle, became something of a pseudonym for Hollywood
itself. He was the glamorous manipulator, throwing parties with champagne
and poisoning the minds of the impressionable. Lyle's partner in crime,
Dixie, represents the classic Hollywood tragedy, a starry-eyed girl who
goes to find fame and fortune, but is ultimately told that she hasn't got
what it takes. Thus it made sense that Lyle would take her under his
proverbial wing and transform her into whatever he wanted her to be.
In short... our inspiration was Hollywood and all of its glorious, ugly,
How would you describe The
Great Charade's approach to the thriller genre?
we were first spitballing the idea, we weren't too concerned with genre...
in fact, we weren't too concerned with genre full stop. We wanted to make
a film that spun the tropes of classic cinema into a weird and twisted web
and subverted the ideals of archetypal characters. We knew that it
wouldn't be a 'nice' film, but we also knew that it wouldn't be a
straight-up horror or even a to-the-point kidnapping film. So naturally,
it fell into place within the thriller genre. What we didn't expect were so many comedy moments. These were almost
purely a result of our brilliant cast and their wonderful chemistry on
set. When we wrote the script we intended it to be tongue-in-cheek... but
somehow through all of the laughter and camaraderie along the way, we
ended up weaving in a 70s porn-style funk track, a gospel-inspired undead
priest and an audible ding every
time someone winked. We thought we were making a film that sat somewhere within the thriller
genre, but we ended up making something bordering on a psychological dark
comedy. Our approach was to simply trust our cast and crew's instincts,
take on any ideas that worked and let the film grow into whatever it was
meant to be.
honestly, as writers/directors of the movie, to what extent could you
identify with Lyle, the mastermind of the story? And to what extent with
any of the other characters for that matter?
we think it's impossible to write any characters without being able to
identify with them at least a little bit. It's not that we necessarily
share their feelings or beliefs, or even that we've taken influence from
our own. It's more that we've come up with the ideas of these characters
and almost acted as conduits, bringing them into reality through
empathising with the hang-ups we've given them. When we first started creating them, what became really prevalent was
their individual anxieties and insecurities.
We wanted Ryan Sterling to
appear to be the hero while inside he's crippled by a fear of not being
good enough. (I think we can all relate to that.)
We wanted Amara to
present herself as the ultimate role-model and modern heroine while behind
closed doors she's completely self-absorbed and only out for her own
personal gain. (Again, everyone's selfish every once in a while, whether
they like to admit it or not.)
Dixie was always the honest one. Although she's technically one of the
baddies, having kidnapped Ryan and Amara and taken pleasure in toying with
them, really she's the victim. We wanted her to idolize Amara and dream of
being just like her, but have her dreams snatched away and be left with
ruin and misery. She was impressionable, naive and ultimately that was her
downfall; a country girl who wasn't prepared for the
strip-you-naked-and-spit-in-your-face brutality of Hollywood. Obviously we
hope that we do achieve our dreams, but imagining that we don't, Dixie's
grief and lack of direction would be horribly relatable. We certainly
identify with Dixie in a potential-future kind of way... if we wound up
not achieving our dreams and ultimately losing everything, we'd probably
both go a little off the rails.
Lyle was always a weird one; we initially imagined this Buffalo Bill-esque
character who was completely besotted with Ryan Sterling, but then
gradually, we came to the conclusion that he could be a
personification of so many of the themes that we wanted to work in. This
was one of the things that made him so interesting to write; he wasn't
really sculpted by backstory or insecurities; rather the ideas and images
of Hollywood that the media have collectively instilled. So for that
reason, he was probably the least relatable and least identifiable. (Thank
God for that!)
you tell us about your directorial approach to your story at hand?
the project, we have always agreed that giving the cast and crew room to
experiment is the most valuable thing for the film. It involves letting go
of some of the control, and really honestly contemplating new and
different ideas and approaches... but ultimately, we feel it yields far
better results. When we first sent out the script to the actors we asked
them for completely honest feedback, as a result, their ideas and
interpretations were woven into the film. The same ethos of being able to
play and experiment with ideas was very much instilled on set. We
encouraged the whole cast and crew to offer any ideas that they thought
would work and we always considered them. Sometimes we'd decide to stick
to the script, other times we diverted the narrative just a little bit to
include whatever different approach had been offered up.
Equally, following the vein of creative equality, we always try to avoid
too much of a hierarchy on set. Obviously, you need someone to steer the
ship and keep the production running on track, but outside of that we
really try to create an atmosphere of camaraderie and often friendship. If
we're waiting for make-up or lighting and we're not particularly useful at
any given time, we'll offer to make cups of tea for everyone, including
runners. Because if everyone feels equal, it means that everyone's more
comfortable, and we truly believe that when people are able to feel
comfortable enough to be themselves, they'll deliver much better results
and it'll be a lot more fun along the way.
shared writing and directorial duties on The
Great Charade - so what was your collaboration on the film like?
worked together for the past five years or so and over time we've just
found a way to gel together and collaborate on more or less everything.
Not only do we work together but we live together and intend to get
married next year. That's right. We're one of those weird couples who enjoy working
together. That said, we've never let our relationship affect the running
of the production. If one of us has a bad idea (it happens to the best of
us) we both know that it's completely okay for the other to gently shoot
it down and offer an alternative. Neither of us are too precious about our
ideas because we both feel that it's the experimentation and the ability
to play that really drives a project forward.
That said, The
Great Charade was the first film we've ever directed
together... in fact, it's the first film that Dan's directed at all! When
we first met, Rodeo was a writer-director and Dan initially was an audio
engineer. However, through our personal relationship and the fact that
we're constantly tossing ideas around, we quickly found that we're both
far better together and we can each offer the other something that
ultimately improves the project. So it was only a matter of time before
Dan shared in the directing. Because of that progression, collaborating on
this project was the most natural thing in the world to us.
Great Charade is not the first time you've worked together - so
what can you tell us about your previous collaborations, and how did the
two of you first meet even?
first met and started working together about five years ago when we were
both studying at the same university, and Rodeo was seeking crew for a
short film. We kinda knew each other... Rodeo gave Dan an origami chicken
one morning because he seemed like a nice guy and she found it endearing
that he had really tall hair at the time. Unfortunately, the only film
that Dan had seen by Rodeo was a very questionable group project that
she'd been involved in for her degree... naturally, when a bunch of people
are thrown together and told to make a film they don't always gel and as a
result the film isn't always a success... so seeing the unfortunate film
out of context, Dan was apprehensive about working with Rodeo, to say the
least. Eventually, he gave in and agreed to do on set sound for the short
film Flutter, which
went on to win awards, and we haven't really looked back since. We very quickly started our company,
Rodeo moved in, and we set up a home studio. We produced a range of
different short films together, worked tirelessly creating adverts/video
content for businesses in order to raise the money to fund our first
feature film. Finally, we were successful and we promptly dropped all of
our clients and set about making The
What can you tell us about The
Great Charade's score, and your musical influences?
had a lot of fun composing the score for The
Great Charade. Dan has a broad background in music.
He started his career as the lead guitarist of a rock band and worked
tirelessly to earn an illustrious record deal, only to have the band turn
it down because they thought it would be too much work. Naturally, he
ditched the band and changed tact instead, studying audio engineering and
sound design. We'd produced a few different tracks together already
and had always enjoyed making music together. On the short films we've
created together before, Dan would always be in charge of the score and
Rodeo would chip in by saying things like 'can we have more of a swoooooshhh there?'
or 'it needs more of a boooom!'
Great Charade, we decided to take a different approach. Where
previously our scores have been predominantly synth-heavy, for this one we
decided to record real sounds and just mess with them in such a way that
they weren't always identifiable as instruments. This orchestra mainly
consisted of several guitars, a wok, a few cymbals, an empty Coke can and
a few pots and pans. We wanted to create a sound that mirrored the
location; clinky and clanky and drippy and unsettling. We had discussed
the idea of taking influence from classic Hollywood orchestral scores, but
in the end, we decided that something more industrial would suit the film
of our biggest influences was Nine Inch Nails and Trent Reznor's scores
for films such as Gone Girl among other titles. We must have listened to Reptile about
60 times and watched the intro sequence for Se7en,
featuring the track Closer enough
to memorise it shot-for-shot. We deconstructed what elements made those
tracks work so well and essentially assigned a different instrument or
kitchen utensil to each. That way, when we came to composing our own music
we had a basic idea of what elements we needed to combine to create
of course, we went off the rails a little bit and Dan composed a funk
track, which we heavily based on old porn/grindhouse films of the 1970s.
Also in this saga of insanity, we found ourselves watching Sid Vicious's
rendition of I
Did It My Way and combining his grating vocal style
with the traditional wedding march. It
was a pretty weird time for us.
talk about the cast of The
Great Charade, and why exactly these people?
it came to casting, we'd had the immense pleasure of working with Candice
Palladino [Candice Palladino
interview - click here], Ricardo Freitas [Ricardo Freitas
interview - click here] and Francesca Louise White [Francesca
Louise White interview - click here] on a few previous
occasions. Marcus Davis-Orrom [Marcus
Davis Orrom interview - click here]
was a complete wildcard.
When we were writing the film, we already had Candice in mind to
play Dixie... in fact, we'd go as far as to say that we wrote the part for
her. We've worked with her on a number of different projects and on
every single one we have been continually amazed by her incredible
performance range and sheer unbridled talent. She's somehow able to inject
the most stunning subtlety into every performance yet still blow you away
with the power with which she expells emotion. To put it simply, she's
incredible. AND, she's a wonderful person to boot. What's not to like?
Francesca had been on our radar for quite a while as someone we wanted to
work with. We did plan to make a different film initially which we had
already cast her for, but unfortunately, funding fell through and we ended
up writing The
Great Charade instead. Francesca was such a natural
casting choice for the role of Amara. Not only does she completely look
the part for the queen of Hollywood, but she offers such wonderful
multi-faceted performances. So when it came to Amara, a woman who presents
a certain image of herself, but underneath it all is something entirely
different, we knew that we needed to cast someone really special who would
have the ability to deliver all of the different levels of Amara's
character... Francesca was perfect.
Up until The
Great Charade we had only worked with Ricardo on
commercials but had already formed such a strong creative affinity with
him that we desperately wanted to work with him on a narrative piece.
Somehow we just knew he'd be perfect for Ryan Sterling. Not only is he
able to deliver stunningly emotional performances that honestly make you
want to cry and hug him, but he can so easily fit into the role of hero as
well. And, like Francesca, he already looks like a Hollywood heart-throb -
no acting required!
Lyle was a little more difficult. We came within inches of casting people
on more than one occasion, but something would come up at the last minute
that always meant that they weren't quite the right fit. It was like Lyle
was a complete enigma. We received about forty audition self-tapes and
although many of the actors were very talented, we felt that none of them
were quite right. Finally, it was Francesca who suggested Marcus
Davis-Orrom. We'd already seen him in a comedy play, acting in a role that
was absolutely nothing like Lyle whatsoever. So in truth, when she first
suggested him, we weren't entirely convinced. But we had nothing to lose,
so we asked him to send us a self-tape and when we received it we couldn't
believe what we were watching. Somehow, he had managed to interpret the
script so perfectly that we both got chills while watching it. He played
Lyle prissy on the surface, yet on another level, there was this
incredible air of calculating passion. He brought a completely unique feel
to the role, having not previously worked in film. The theatrical, almost
Shakespearian quality to his portrayal gave Lyle the quirky, unsettling
almost unreal quality that we didn't know he was missing all along. We had
finally found our Lyle! Clearly this casting decision paid off as Marcus
has just won Best Acting Debut at the Oniros Film Awards, Monthly
Marcus Davis-Orrom, Ricardo Freitas
Marcus' award was not the only victory we had with Oniros; Ricardo also
won the award for Best Actor, Francesca was awarded Honorable Mention
her portrayal of Amara and Candice was a finalist for Best Supporting
Actress. Not only that but The
Great Charade was a finalist for the Best Film
category as well!
few words about the shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere?
Great Charade has got to be the most
enjoyable-yet-tiring experience we have ever had on set. We had a very
small cast and crew, but everyone had so much complete belief in the
project, and such willingness to collaborate and give it their all. We
were shooting in an industrial unit generously provided by Jennings in
Oxfordshire, however, due to the noise from the neighbouring businesses,
we were limited to shooting at night. Thus, we'd all arrive on set, ready
to start shooting at five PM, say good
morning and have breakfast. It was a completely
delirious rush of a shoot, fuelled by coffee and creative passion. There
were times when the going was tough. There were times when we'd have a
long scene to get through and it was clear that everyone had started
flagging... but the atmosphere was so collaborative and so friendly that
we could have got through anything and we think it's safe to say that Sam
Ashby and Will Tullett kept us laughing throughout the shoot, hence we
ended up dubbing them the chuckle brothers. We have never heard more laughter on a film set than for
Great Charade. Everyone was constantly joking and
playing, so morale was on a constant high. It was wonderfully sweary,
delightfully silly, and by the end, I think we all felt that we'd become
something of a family. In fact, the experience was so good that almost a year on from the shoot,
the whole cast and crew are planning on gathering for a private screening
and reunion at our place!
future projects you'd like to share?
for now, our focus is still primarily The
Great Charade. We have about a million ideas buzzing around in our
heads and occasionally making it onto the pages of our notebooks, but we
don't want to divert attention away from The
Great Charade until it's reached its goal of finding
an audience and gaining distribution.
In the meantime, we can't survive on a diet of purely business and no
creativity, so we have also written our first novel and are planning to
write a blues album... but in terms of film, all of our efforts are
focused on getting The
Great Charade the audience it deserves.
website, Facebook, whatever else?
can find all of the information about The Great Charade
plus images, interviews, reviews and
updates on our website:
And we also regularly tweet about the film's progress on our personal
twitter profiles @RodeaxRodeo and @Dan_Rodeax
Anything else you're
dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?
just like to say a huge thank you to our whole crew. Our director of photography, WIll Tullett and
cinematographer Sam Ashby worked so hard to
make this film look the way it does. Not only are they insanely talented,
dedicated individuals, but they're also wonderful friends. The same goes for Katie Johnson who created all of the hair, make-up and
prosthetics for this film. She's the sweetest person to ever douse an
actor in blood and working with her is a blast every time. Maxwell Riches is a quiet genius of a sound recordist. With only one short
sentence of ADR needed on this entire film, working in a difficult
location and manoeuvring his boom pole between hundreds of Christmas
baubles (which again was hilarious to watch), we couldn't be more thrilled
with Max's work. Our esteemed script supervisor, Lacey Sandiford was always there every
time we needed her and her notes alone were what got us through the edit!
She made everyone smile and laugh every day and we couldn't imagine making
this film without her! The same can be said for Sam Scholfield, BTS videographer and Richard
Wakefield, BTS and posters photographer. You have no idea how excited we
are to eventually release the BTS videos and bloopers! And we couldn't be
happier with the poster shots that Richard took. Perhaps the most important crew-member, the one who kept us going every
night of the shoot was Phil Boobyer, who was in charge of catering. He
fuelled the madness with massive quantities of macaroni cheese and
vegetable curry, filling our bellies and warming our hearts. What a
legend. These are the people that made The Great Charade happen, and for that, we are eternally
for the interview!