Your upcoming movie The Pugilist's Son - in a few words, what will
it be about?
Pugilistís Son follows the journey of a young man following in his
footsteps in the hardest sport of them all.
The Pugilist's Son is based on a short of yours of the same
name - so why choose exactly that story to ultimately turn into your debut
feature film? And how close will you remain to the earlier film?
been a mad journey trying to find this film, even though I did the short
film I wrote about 10 screenplays up to that point and it was a decision
about what kind of writer/director I was going to be or simply what film I
was going to launch with.
as a genre in this country is very hard to place, most people would be
hard-pushed to name a British boxing film, there must be a reason for that
and through the writing of the feature film I found out what that reason
was. I will come back to this.
few months ago I decided it would make perfect sense to make the feature.
The development of the script has been tough because I am developing the
characters and deepening the scenarios. It took me quite a while to
actually get the story out. I also decided from the short film that drama
was the best genre tonally for this film but with certain aspects
heightened for commercial appeal.
characters is always a lengthy process, I really love to create the
characters using real life case studies, this helps me bring them to life
on the page and it tells me, yes, this could actually happen. I like to
research the events in the same way so I can say, this actually happened
somewhere in the world.
the making of The Pugilistís Son, I became well aware of all the boxing
clichťs and I did my best to avoid them or use them to my advantage. I
love English culture and my aim with the feature is to expose some of that
love across the landscape of the sport.
annoying thing about adapting a short is losing the bits you love cause
you donít want to copy them direct. Or maybe I will just copy them or
enhance them, but the truth is they are isolated films and those bits you
love will develop in the feature too.
back to why itís hard to name a boxing feature. With boxing say like the
Rocky films there is always a title fight involved or a big fight that the
film is leading towards. Will he/she wonít he/she win. With the short
film I wanted to change the dynamic to an internal fight between father
and son and I think in the feature I have raised the stakes on this one.
So what do you do with this genre in the UK, in the US they have smashed
it with the best films being biopics.
had some top boxers in this country so a film may come to the fold
someday. Although my film is not a bio I firmly believe in authenticity, it
is everything, that was the reason for casting Gary Stretch in the co lead
role. The film is called The Pugilistís Son so the father and son are
both named in the title which means they are both the central characters
in this story.
The Pugilist's Son being about boxing, is that a sport you're at
all into, and did you do any research on the subject?
is ongoing, I watch a lot of boxing and before I made the short I got up
into the ring. My plan is to get back into the ring again now as I move
forward with the feature. It always helps having people from the boxing
world to consult with, like Gary and Errol Christie and so on. I have been
obsessed with the sport from a very young age but I never imagined writing
a UK boxing film.
sources of inspiration when writing The Pugilist's Son?
the The Pugilist's Son feature has been really hard, much harder than anything I have
written up to now and itís because of the virtually non-existant UK
boxing genre itself and the challenge getting a believable story out of
was trying to find what this story was really about for a matter of
months, I started off very light and now I have really carved out a strong
drama where the stakes are high and the characterization is unique in
its drive across the story. I really admire films where each character
has their own separate driving agenda across the story landscape then they
all clash in some way in the heart of the story.
suggest quite a bit of physical action almost by definition - so how do
you plan to go about that aspect of your movie?
part is the bit that I love me climbing into the ring, ties in with all of
this, I want to live and breath the sport and feel the moments as much as
possible. For the short film I hired Errol Christie, the former British champion, to train my lead actor Tom and I will be doing the same for the
lead in the feature. I will also be trawling the UK boxing clubs to get an
honest modern day depiction of the boxing world from amateur to pro,
itís all about inclusion, cultures, sexes and religions.
first training session starts this weekend.
you tell us about the intended overall look and feel of The Pugilist's
love bold cinema, getting coverage just isnít good enough, The Pugilist's
Son will be
shot for the big screen despite where it ends up. I coined the term
Ďstylized grití when I was shooting the short and this is what I want
to stick to. We love grit over here but it doesnít have to be cheap
looking or low budget. You can create sheer explosive beauty these days
for a fraction of the cost.
firmly believe in classic storytelling and the non-dating of your film,
some films date and some do not, the ones that date seem cutting edge and
explosive when they come out but a few years later they look old. For this
reason I believe in shooting as conventionally as possible according to
the genre and tone. The Pugilist's
Son is an explosive drama about a young boxer trying
to make it in the toughest game of all.
the film will have a rich classic palette with an undertone of menace the
possibility of tension and violence at every turn. Bold and cinematic with
the characters baring their raw souls on screen for all to see.
Anything you can tell us about your key cast
and crew yet, and why exactly these people?
speaking closely with Gary Stretch about the co-lead at the moment and I
would really like to work with my DOP Maja again as she was perfect for
the short film. Thatís about all I can say at the moment.
film still in pre-production, what's the schedule? And when might the
movie be released onto the general public then (however tentatively)?
would like to be shooting early next year, Iím a strong believer in
setting deadlines and getting things done, there are a load of clichťs
floating around about how long it takes to do this and that, but I think
itís in everyoneís interests to push and structure for the fastest
possible results and who knows what might happen.
future projects beyond The Pugilist's Son?
I directed The Pugilistís Son I wrote 5 screenplays and since I have
written it I have written another 5. For me writing is vocational, I have
to write. I wrote a script on my life story many years ago. What I plan to
do is write a book first then perhaps make a film, but the book is more
important to me at the moment in terms of the life story subject matter.
Iím currently working with Cass Pennant developing a couple of projects.
There is one crazy dark film which will become my passion very soon,
itís on the list of already written films and this one is screaming out
to be fully realized next.
somewhere that you consider yourself a writer first and foremost - so how
did you get into the filmworld first?
writing has always come first for me cause I wanted to control the film
from the ground up. I got into film simply by spending my own money and
just doing it, starting out in short film. Made a shitload of bad films
and lost loads of money, but what I gained was confidence to just go out
and do it and not to wait for anyone. That is a valuable lesson I think as
filmmaking is so tough.
did study film and art and design and history of art and so on. I said I
wanted to write years ago but you have to spend years being shit and
thinking you are good with no one paying any attention and one day you
just find your voice and boomÖpeople still ignore you and pay you no
attention but you are armed with a voice.
What can you tell
us about your filmwork prior to The Pugilist's Son (in whatever
have worked in so many different capacities itís dizzying but each
aspect has helped, in terms of film office side Iíve worked at Working
Title, Sarah Radclyffe, BFI, NFT and other production companies in the UK.
I did a bunch of short films before The Pugilist's
Son, I wrote produced and directed
them but frankly they were just not good enough to see light of day. You
have to be hard on yourself and know how good you are. If you make a
rubbish film just shelf it and make another one. So long as your work is
improving it doesnít matter how bad your film is cause you are simply
going to get better and better. You hear people slagging off other people's
shorts and I think in 5 years time that kid could be the next Spielberg.
You donít know what people are doing behind the scenes to empower
themselves for their next project.
How would you describe yourself as a writer
and as a director, and how do the two influence one another?
a solitary people person, that is me personified and I love that cause it
allows me to enjoy both disciplines. Filmaking is all about processing and
itís about loving the majority of them to drive your passion. There are
aspects of the writing process I donít like that much such as writing
the script for the first draft, I love researching and rewriting but I
hate starting the script, but the good outweighs the bad here. With
directing parts of it are like factory work, I worked for a production
company and shot over 80 showreels for clients and I got to realize the
repetitive processes of filmmaking but I still love it.
writers, whoever else who inspire you?
Slim is my all time favourite at the moment, Iíve read all his novels
and thatís a good sign. Knut Hanson. Iíve read quite a lot of Bukowski
but the lack of plot means I never finish them. Iíve just opened The Tin
Drum which is good, so books mainly. Woody Allen needs a mention, heís
cheesy at times but those Annie Hall oneliners are unsurpassed.
from David Lynch, love Alain Delon,
The Beguiled, The Wicker
Man, Two Men in Manhattan, The Night of the
Hunter, All About Eve, Marnie. All oldies... thousands more...
... and of course, films you really deplore?
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
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funny I think if you get one thing from a shit film then itís been worth
it. I try and watch very bad films cause you can learn from them, so
thereís nothing I hate just films that I love as above.
movie's website, Facebook, whatever else?
info can be found at:
you're dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?
started boxing, training amongst the dead in graveyards in preparation for
this film, itís so peaceful and calm.
for the interview!
Special thanks to Richard S Barnett,
founder of IIWYK!!!