Outlaw - Exclusive Interview with Director Nick Love

Source: Film Focus
Exclusive Interview with Director Nick Love - Outlaw
By Joe Utichi

FilmFocus is summoned to the offices of a top London PR firm to meet, for the second time in our modest history, the ever enthusiastic Nick Love. But we're not here to talk to him about his latest film, The Business, for we've already done that. No, this time we're talking about a project that hasn't even passed the writing stage yet. As we meet him, he's still beavering away at the screenplay. But this is a project that's going to be developed unlike any other he - or for that matter, anyone else - has every done. This is Outlaw.
When my mum - who is the most left-wing, vegetarian, Greenpeace-y woman you can fucking imagine - turns around to me and says, "You know what, Nick, you should make that film - it's a really important film." That says it all. It's not about fascism or gang mentality or rising gun violence or anything. It's about people that feel that feel so fucking frustrated. These characters, because they're film characters, their motivation and their reasoning heighten.
There's one character that's based on a real thing who's a twenty-three year-old public schoolboy who was at Cambridge studying politics. He was in a nightclub in Cambridge with his pals - it was a gay club and apparently the reason they were there was because it was the only place they could get a drink. Whether they were gay or not is beside the fucking point, you know. The fact is, they came out of this nightclub and this kid in the film - whose name is Sandy Mardel - he was a victim of a completely unprovoked attack and he got batted by these teenagers. Seventeen year-old chav kids, or whatever they were, with their fucking hoodies. CCTV caught them stamping all over his head and they got nicked that night or the next day. They went to youth custody all three of them. But what was the news article about this whole thing was that they had been released from youth custody before he'd finished having facial corrective surgery. He'd actually come out of hospital and they'd come out of Borstal. The reason was that Borstal was overcrowded and they wanted to put real criminals in there. Sorry, what are these guys then? Also, they were first time offenders so they wanted to give them a second chance. That's wrong. I'm telling you that is wrong.
So there are those sort of motivations for the characters. It's not people who go, "I'm fucking sick of paying tax," they've got real motivations. This kid never finished his degree. He went back to his parent's house in the country because he was so emotionally fucking scarred that he couldn't even leave his fucking family's home. They've got a real reason.
FF: I remember a similar story the other day...
NL: There's a similar story every day, sadly. That is the saddest fucking fact; we collect headlines for the website and what we'll be doing in a couple of months time is that we'll be posting a headline and, without us having any sort-of judgement on it or any sort-of moral stance, just say, "This is a headline, what do you think?" Start a chat-room and see what happens.
We started stockpiling stuff and then we thought, "Why bother? Every day there's something new." Every day you can take something and stick it on there. Every day there's some old woman getting battered or some kid getting set fire to, some fucking paedophile getting nine months. Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong.
FF: So let's talk about the website; it seems like you're hoping to allow your fans a connection to the movie beyond their ticket stubs...
NL: I feel myself, on some level, that we are cynical fucking filmmakers who are looking for a buck. You can't disguise that. But, yes, the other angle is to say that this is, ultimately - more than any film I've ever done before - a film about the common man. About the people. It's about England and it's about right-now. Therefore it's not too cheeky to say to someone, "For a tenner, we'll give you an Outlaw The Movie T-Shirt and a credit on the DVD as an executive producer. You will be a part of this film. You'll get regular updates. You'll get a chance to appear as an extra in the film."
There are different tiers of how much you can pay. I doubt there'll be many people who'll want to pay £100 - maybe there'll be a couple - I think that most people will go, "You know what, for a tenner you can't by a t-shirt on fucking Oxford Street. I'm in." I reckon we'll sell them by the bucket load. Not straight away, but I think over time. So ordinarily I would be a bit dubious about that sort of thing as a cheap stunt, but because it's about a malaise that is endemic in this country now. People feel disillusioned.
On the positive side - because I don't want it to feel too depressing - we've got a fairly growing fan club from The Football Factory and The Business of young men. What I've found - because I get the fucking letters every day - is that they're a lot more interested in film than you would think they are. Critics say, "Oh they're just interested in violence, that's why they go and buy his films." Actually, people are very interested in the process of making film and, of course, for a very small amount of money this does actually give you a window into a world you wouldn't normally get.
FF: Are you intending, with the site, to get people to collaborate with you on the film itself?
NL: The site'll be interacting and developing with it. I won't be actually changing stories when people say, "You should do this," because I think at a certain level you could fuck-up the film by doing that. By letting people in too much. It's more about whetting people's beak ultimately. And again, like I say, from a purely commercial standpoint anyone who signs up for a tenner is then also going to go and buy the DVD because they want to see their name on it. Or most of them.
At Vertigo, regardless of how good our films are, we've always tried to do things differently. We've never made a film for over two million quid. And, in fact, Outlaw will cost less than The Business and It's All Gone Pete Tong. We're trying to be innovative and we're trying not to follow the usual film patterns. We don't live in a climate where we can spend seventy million dollars on a movie; we live in fucking London which is a struggling industry. We're always trying to be innovative rather than sort of imitative. This is certainly an anomaly - no-one's done this before. Having said that, no-one's had the film to do it before. It takes, I think, a very specific kind-of film to do this. If I'd have done my black comedy about the aristocracy you couldn't have financed it this way.
FF: Are you planning to draw your financing exclusively this way?
NL: No, because I think that's probably too much to ask. If, say, the budget of the film is a million quid, I would imagine that at best we'd get a quarter of the film financed this way and then we'll be going back to our usual private investors for the rest. I mean the film's financed already, because we have a stockpile of people who want to invest. We make them money, so of course they want to be involved. This is partly, like I say, a commercial reason - it's good PR spin. I've certainly never sat here talking to press about a film I've not finished writing before...
FF: I don't think I've ever talked to someone about a film that's not been written before...
NL: Exactly! *laughs* It's a kind-of cute little thing to do. The good part of me is I do have a growing legion of young fans if you like. In today's society a tenner is like fifty pence when we were kids. A tenner is nothing anymore. So to get a decent quality t-shirt and a credit on a film - which you'll then feel a part of and you'll kind-of own that forever - I don't think it's a cheeky thing at all.
I'm glad it's taken me all my life to come up with something like this because I think it's about the right project. It's certainly, in terms of the film, a much bigger challenge than I've ever had before. When I've made films before it's like... It's not lazy, because I wouldn't say I'm a lazy person, but it is, you know, you've got a world, the characters exist in that world, they don't really develop, it's pretty anarchic, it's there for the kicks, it's all style. The only sort of emotional response you're supposed to get is, "Whoa, that looks fucking scary." That's because you're making films for a certain generation. I'm not making films for film critics, particularly, I'm making films for fucking armies of kids that want to go and buy the DVDs. I've always put my hand up and said that's what I do. I'm not trying to be an arthouse filmmaker. I'm making films for the fucking chav generation, essentially. And I like that. I like that label.
FF: You've mentioned this film is a departure from your norm, so are you worried that adding this extra level of participation, there's more on you to get it right by your fans?
NL: Of course, it's a conundrum in a sense. It's a juggling act because you don't want to turn your back on the audience that made you successful and you want to keep involving them. But as a filmmaker I need to start metamorphosis. I can't keep making fucking chav generation films. So, in a sense, without calling it a stroppy hybrid, Outlaw is taking some of my old world with me but also exploring a much bigger and more political canvas and a much more serious canvas. I never like to say that a film is born out of keeping an audience happy because it never is. It's born out of the thought that I'm going to wear this around my neck like a fucking albatross. I'm going to enjoy it and care about it. Whether it's a film like The Business, which is a bit of fun, or a film like Charlie Bright which is more of a personal film, whatever it is you've got to take those films to the grave with you. I also think it's no coincidence I'm making this film now. Four films down the line I've learnt my craft I can make a film look slick. It's like now I know what I'm doing I want to make something that really means something. I want to make a film where people will go, "God, that was important, that film." Not just eye-candy. In a sense you're kind-of hoodwinked by the chav fanclub but actually they're the ones that become the aggressors in the film.
FF: When do you start shooting?
NL: July.
FF: At this stage I suppose you're looking for cast?
NL: Yeah. And, again, this goes back to that last question because essentially what I'm doing is I'm shedding myself of all of the cast from my previous films - apart from Danny Dyer who's going to have a much smaller role as a very different character - again, like, whether certain people will go, "Oh, fucking hell, they're working together again," you can't turn your back on the fact that six or seven hundred thousand copies of the DVD of The Football Factory were sold and I get recognised as much as Danny does because people are obsessed with the making-of documentaries. They like that whole world. The same with The Business, you know, it will probably shift big numbers on DVD because people like the extras. People like the Nick and Danny show. Cynical or not you'd be fucking stupid to turn your back on that. For any British filmmaker to get a following - if you're Spielberg it's great you can do it every day - but you're talking about young-ish bucks like me trying to make a statement in an industry swamped with American blockbusters, it's hard. When you get on something good you'd be a div not to continue it on some level. But then again I also understand there's a much bigger world out there and I want to get involved in the bigger picture. Essentially it's a long-winded way of saying I'm snatching Danny and that's it.
FF: So who'll be filling in the gaps?
NL: Between you and me *tape inexplicably cuts out*. The people in the film are common men - it's you and me - they're not big gangsters or anything. It's good in a way because you're not restricted by vernacular. I like making films that are so real to their neighbourhood. But this is not a film about a particular neighbourhood, you can work with Scots, Irish, anybody. Obviously not fucking Americans, but... So that's exciting, to have a nice blank canvas out there.
FF: Best of luck with it. We'd love to check in.
NL: Absolutely. Come down to the set, I'll show you around. If we do it right it could really catch a wave; people have been waiting for a film like this. Obviously it might cause a bit of a shit-storm with the government, but I don't care about that...


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