Outlaw - Exclusive Interview with Director
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
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?
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...