new movie To Dream - in
a few words, what is it about?
To Dream is about two best friends doing the best they can to survive in
harsh, dysfunctional environments. They cling to a shared desire to
escape. This dream cements their bond and drives them. But life gets
tricky. Sex, drugs and jealousy lead to unexpected chaos. And the dream
Dream touches many sensible subjects like friendship gone wrong,
dysfunctional families, loyalty and betrayal, even suicide - so what
prompted you to touch upon all of these things, and is any of the movie
based on personal experience?
The story is not directly biographical. However I did find the whole
process quite cathartic. Reality is constantly casting shadows on our
minds. Leaving marks, scars, nightmares, fantasies. Filmmaking for me is
an attempt to interpret some of life's black holes. A way to face fears
and make peace with demons. I think I had hopes that in some roundabout
way this film and filmmaking process would help me deal with some old
(Other) sources of
inspiration when writing To
I was particularly obsessed with Shane Meadows at the time. His film This
is England is about a gang of friends set in the 80's. He then
brought all of the characters back together and did a 3 part TV series.
I think Meadows is a GOD. I really admired the authentic and unforgiving
honesty in his work. I'm an American living in London for 16 years now.
I didn't grow up here so my understanding of the English 'youth in
revolt' became very intriguing to me.
I was also re-reading Call of the Wild by Jack London
at the time. Every American kid is obliged to read this in school. But
when I revisited it as an adult it had such deeper meaning. It's
basically about a feral
dog forced to fight to survive by instinct and living by the "law
of the wild". I suddenly thought, Genius. There's my film!
I think the locations play a very big
part in To Dream - so
where was it filmed, and what was it like filming there?
We filmed all over London. East, West and South. Serious budget
restrictions meant that we relied heavily on favours. Every location
used was either a friend of a friend's flat, a mate's bar, my house! We
had to be clever and resourceful.
can you tell us about your overall directorial approach to your story at
I guess you could say my directorial approach tends to be a bit more
hands off. I rely on raw magic. We never rehearsed, on set or off. I
always prepare my actors with detailed character back stories. Tell them
what music they would listen to. What their favourite colour would be,
etc, etc. And then I ask them to arrive on set in character. My job is
to create the character's world and control the atmosphere and when they
step into it, the rest of the illusion is really left to them.
Do talk about your key cast, and why exactly these
Ah man, this is such a badass cast!
Freddie Thorp who plays TOMMY is a maverick. An old soul. From the
moment I saw him I knew he was a rare gem. Tommy already lived inside
of him somewhere.
Likewise with Ed Hayter, who plays LUKE. Ed is a sensitive soul who
really feels the world deeply. Tough as nails, but vulnerable to the
touch. They are both polar opposites to their characters on paper but
emotionally very similar.
Frank Jakeman, who plays CHARLIE, Luke's father, is an absolute joy to
work with (our third project together). Fortunately he is nothing like
his character in real life. A true testament to his onscreen
Then there's Adam Deacon, who plays EASY. Unadulterated method acting as
fate would have it. There was nothing inauthentic about his performance.
A true honour to work with.
Diana Vickers, who plays NIKKI, has this unique ability to make her
performances effortlessly pure. Beautiful and captivating on screen and
Kirsty Dillon, who plays HELEN, Luke's mother, was born to play every
single role she takes on. Acting runs through her veins.
And there are so many others... I could go on!
A few words about the shoot as such, and the
We were all on a vibe from day ONE. And we shot the entire film in just
7 days. I know directors are supposed to be at the top of the food
chain, so to speak, but that idea goes against my filmmaking philosophy.
Every single person involved was integral to the end result. A true
The $64-question of course, where can
your movie be seen?
is available to download from Amazon, iTunes, Google
and YouTube and can be bought on DVD from Sparkle Media - https://www.moviezyng.com/810162038236.aspx
Anything you can tell us about
audience and critical reception of To
I think naturally it will grab the attention of today's youth, but I
hope it speaks to every age. I'd like to think it's the kind of film
you could sit down and watch with your parents, as a teenager. Yes,
there would be some intense and uncomfortable moments, but isn't that
what good cinema is all about?
Any future projects you'd like to share?
I'm working on a really cool project with a recording artist friend of
mine. It's a collaboration of music and film. The story is pretty
abstract and addresses modern religious oppression. It's surreal, dark
Also, I'm working on a new screenplay, set in an eerie small town, just
outside of Baltimore, where I grew up. It's about an autistic boy that
begins mysteriously sleepwalking into the woods at night after the
disappearance of his father. It's a big step away from my usual coming-of-age stories, but it's very special to me.
got you into filmmaking in the first place, and did you receive any proper
training on the subject?
A mixture of luck and fate. I sort of cheated my way in by
sneakily submitting a music video treatment to a major record label.
They chose my treatment. I had never directed before nor did I have any
formal training. I blagged it. It was the most exciting thing I'd ever
done. The video turned out sick! And the rest, as they say, is history.
What can you tell us about your
filmwork prior to To Dream?
I'm still pretty new to this and very much learning as I go. I've only
made one short film and a few music videos prior to To Dream. My short
film, Trash, is about a young girl living in a bleak and surreal English
countryside trailer park. It's a story about innocence
contaminated by torment. It follows 16 year old, LOTTIE, dealing with
her abusive parents, junkie neighbours, and her seemingly hopeless
situation, before she decides to take drastic measures in order to break
How would you describe yourself as a director?
Hungry and willing!
Filmmakers who inspire you?
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
So many. Andrea Arnold, Shane Meadows, Aronofsky, John Hughes, Debra
Granik, Jef Nichols.
Your favourite movies?
My all time favourite film is a 1986 indie film called At Close
Range starring Sean Penn and Christopher Walken.
But I have so many favourites, new and old. When I was young I would
watch the same film over and over again until I had it entirely
... and of course, films you really deplore?
I hate cheesy romantic comedies and sci-fi. I just can't relate.
Anything else you're dying to mention and I have merely forgotten
Rrrrrrr... That I need an agent!
for the interview!