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Thankfully, my cinematic adventures in the theatre have been an enjoyable ride for the most part. Whether that was due to a film being so good that it had the ability to totally immerse me in it’s world or seeing a movie with an upbeat crowd of people, well, there are numerous considerations I could have picked from. In this piece I’m going to be talking about five theatre experiences that turned out to be memorable for both worthwhile reasons,
Each summer, while the multiplexes are filled with the big spectacles and epic blockbusters, the little gems that grip us with their humor, their tragedy and their humanity, manage to find their ways into the cinemas. This year it’s The Journey, the gripping account of how two men from opposite sides of the political spectrum came together to change the course of history.
In 2006, amidst the ongoing, decades-long conflict in Northern Ireland, representatives from the two warring factions meet for negotiations. In one corner is Ian Paisley (Timothy Spall), the deeply conservative British loyalist; in the other is Martin McGuinness (Colm Meaney), a former Irish Republican Army leader who has devoted his life to the cause of Irish reunification. Opposites in every way, the two men at first seem to have little chance of ever finding common ground. But over the course of an impromptu, detour-filled car ride through the Scottish countryside, each begins to see the other less as an enemy, and more as an individual—a breakthrough that promises to at last bring peace to the troubled region.
Driven by two virtuoso central performances, The Journey is a more-relevant-than-ever reminder of how simple humanity can overcome political division. Freddie Highmore, Toby Stephens, Catherine McCormack and John Hurt co-star. (Review)
I recently spoke with the director of The Journey, award winning director Nick Hamm. Born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, Hamm directed cult-classic The Hole (2001), starring Thora Birch and Keira Knightley, in her feature film debut. He also helmed Lionsgate’s thriller Godsend (2004), starring Robert DeNiro, Rebecca Romijn and Greg Kinnear.
Hamm later produced and directed the 80’s U2-centric comedy, Killing Bono (2011) for Paramount Pictures and Northern Ireland Screen, starring Ben Barnes, Robert Sheehan and Pete Postelwaite.
During our discussion about his latest movie, the British director and I talked about the film’s mixture of tension and humor, the human story and the message of The Journey.
We Are Movie Geeks: The Journey is a good story that should be told – the type that audiences don’t see anymore. It opened in 2016 in Toronto and then Venice, and finally had its premiere at the Belfast Film Festival in May 2017. What was the crowd’s reaction and how was it received?
Nick Hamm: That was a really extraordinary event. I’ve seen it now with thousands of people watching the movie and if you’re going to see a movie like this, you really need to take it back to Northern Ireland to see what they make of it. In the end, that’s where the authenticity of the film is. It is important to us. The event was attended by nearly a thousand people and political leaders from both sides of the community came so we had politicians from Sinn Féin and politicians from the Democratic Unionist Party (Dup). It was a very emotional and momentous event because in many respects it reminded people of something that they had achieved and had risked losing.
We Are Movie Geeks: It is such an interesting script by writer Colin Bateman, one that is funny, sad, and dramatic. Tell me about lead actors Timothy Spall (Paisley) and Colm Meaney (McGuinness – who died recently in March) and the casting. Their characters became known as ”the Chuckle Brothers”. Both actors were very impressive to watch.
Nick Hamm: What underscores everything is the fact that Colin’s script is so good and when that happens, you attract really good actors. Both Tim and Colm were fantastic partners on the film. Tim had to transform himself – he’s playing a six foot five, Northern Irish politician when in reality he’s a five foot nine London actor. We did some prosthetics on his chin and a little aging on his hair, along with the false teeth. The hair and makeup was done by Polly McKay. Tim became the character of Paisley which was fascinating to watch and he’s one of those actors that totally transforms himself.
Colm is one of Ireland’s best actors. What was important was to find somebody who could give McGuinness sympathy. This is a man whose background is well documented. What do you do? You start by making him human, you give him a life and a backstory. When you put someone like Colm Meany in that role, Colm transforms himself for that. He understands the culture from where that character comes, he understands the basis of that character’s ideology and he understands how that character ticks. If you have that and you are a good actor – which he is, then you have a good combination. It was great to watch him.
We Are Movie Geeks: I was very pleased to see the late John Hurt in the film in what was one of his final roles.
Nick Hamm: We all knew that John was very sick while he was doing the film. When we offered him the movie, he wanted to work until the end and play the part. It was real tribute to have him involved as a part of the film.
We Are Movie Geeks: Irish writer Seamus Heaney, although not a political animal was an artist like yourself. He was affected by “The Troubles” when his cousin Colum was killed as a result of the war – Heaney moved from Northern Ireland to Southern Ireland after that. Has it affected you in any way and was this a partial reason why you made the film?
Nick Hamm: It hasn’t affected me personally but I knew people who were. Growing up I was in school in Northern Ireland and I knew people who had real problems. I could see it with my own eyes, the difficulties back then, and it was an intense situation. The vast portion of the people in Northern Ireland went on about their daily life unaffected by it. The real heroes were the people who got on with their daily lives in that situation.
The Journey for me shows how a unique political friendship was achieved at the personal cost of both men. Both men were vilified by their respective communities, but it was one of the most unique political friendships that I had ever witnessed. For two people who were so antagonistic towards each other, who ultimately came to respect each other, and became friends with each other, is why I made the movie and to tell their story.
We Are Movie Geeks: Despite technically being set in Scotland, and on a plane, The Journey was filmed in Northern Ireland. There’s no green screen and it was filmed on the road with your director of photography Greg Gardiner. What was the approach when you took it out of the plane and into the car?
Nick Hamm: This device protected the claustrophobia that the film so demanded while allowing a political version of a road movie to take place. We decided to not be frightened by the tyranny of the car but rather embrace it and enjoy the conceit. Greg and I had discussed and ultimately rejected the idea of green-screen or back-projection very early. We filmed on the road, creating a ‘mobile studio’; our own little cinematic microcosm
We Are Movie Geeks: There is one scene in particular, where McGuiness and Paisley let down their defenses somewhat, set inside a church and then out in the cemetery, that has real depth.
Nick Hamm: I think in the cemetery scene when Colm breaks down, everyone expects Paisley to be sympathetic and wrap his arms around him, but he rebuffs him and shows him no pity or sympathy. Every scene was like a boxing match with each character winning a round.
We Are Movie Geeks: I appreciated the sound editing and especially the score from Stephen Warbeck who first became known for the music for “Prime Suspect” and won an Academy Award for his score for Shakespeare in Love. It is a really nice score.
Nick Hamm: It was something quite new for him and he really had a go at it.
We Are Movie Geeks: Did you speak to the families and to some of the individuals involved? And what was their reaction?
Nick Hamm: I met McGuiness before he died. The whole film came together very quickly from the start.. From the script to the financing, it was out in about two and a half years. It’s been a very quick process and very rare for an independent film. I did sit with McGuiness before we started filming about his friendship with Paisley and it was fascinating to hear him speak how important the relationship was and how important it was that they maintained contact up to its logical conclusion. I did talk to Paisley’s family and to his son. We wanted to reassure them we were not riding roughshod over the history. But at the same time it was important to be creatively independent. We did not share the screenplay with them at any stage. In the end both families really loved the movie.
Plus Sinn Féin and the Dup (Democratic Unionist Party) really liked the film, which is almost unheard of, both parties liking the same thing never mind the same movie. The most important thing for us was that the story was balanced.
We Are Movie Geeks: Brexit is seemingly in the news all the time now. As a result, checkpoints could be set up again to control borders. The timing of the film and its release couldn’t be more relevant. Will it cause a major headache between Northern Ireland and Ireland? Will it hinder Ireland’s reunification?
Nick Hamm: The question needs to be asked and it’s a dreadful situation. The idea that there will be a border back in Ireland again, I don’t think anybody wants that. I know for a fact that the Dup doesn’t want that and it would be suicide for both the economy and the welfare of the people to start putting border checks back up. That border in Ireland runs through people’s fields and farms. It was never designed to be a hard border, which it was during “The Troubles”. It would be an unmitigated tragedy to go back to that.
We Are Movie Geeks: Speaking of Indie Films, what are your thoughts on how people see films? Many are leaving the cinemas in favor of watching a film at home or on the computers with the advent of Netflix and Hulu, etc.
Nick Hamm: I like that at the beginning of a movie’s life that it has a public screening. I think the ways a film is distributed these days is really fascinating. I don’t distinguish between how and where a movie is watched. It’s changing so quickly, in five years-time it’ll change all again. Even the act of going to a movie theater is going to change. As long as they keep putting out these huge blockbuster films, in the cinemas is the best way to watch them. However some films work better on a smaller screen. I think screen size some people can get very worked up about.
We Are Movie Geeks: What’s your next project?
Nick Hamm: We are going to do the DeLorean story, Driven. It’s through the eyes of the guy who gave him up to the FBI. We’re hoping to shoot in September in Puerto Rico. The script is from The Journey’s Colin Bateman. Jason Sudeikis, Lee Pace and Timothy Olyphant are in the picture.
Driven is the turbo-charged story about the FBI sting operation to entrap maverick car designer John DeLorean.
Sudeikis stars as Jim Hoffman, a con artist-turned-informer for the FBI in the war on drugs. Olyphant plays his handler, determined to snare the world-famous but enigmatic DeLorean (Pace) — desperate for cash to finance his dream of designing the ultimate car of the future — in a drug deal that would become the most lurid celebrity scandal of the 1980s.
From IFC Films, see The Journey in theaters now.
The post The Journey – Filmmaker Nick Hamm Discusses His New Film appeared first on We Are Movie Geeks.
Who would be an independent UK film producer? One statistic that leapt out of ‘The State Of The UK Independent Film Sector’ study recently completed for UK producers’ association Pact by Olsberg Spi was that 78% of the UK producers contacted for the report have had to defer some or all of their fees since 2007. Given they were unlikely to have had much of a share of the ‘backend’ from the profits of their films, this means that, in certain circumstances, they are working for virtually nothing.
Almost equally gloomy was the report’s observation that the international market value for independent UK films has suffered a decline of an estimated 50% since 2007. The report puts this down to digital disruption, increased competition for audiences and the squeeze caused by the global financial crisis of 2007. It concludes the present financial model is “broken”.
Off the back
According to Deadline, Sudeikis will play Jim Hoffman, "a con artist-turned-informer for the FBI in the war on drugs." Olyphant takes on the role of his handler, "determined to snare the world-famous but enigmatic DeLorean." Pace will play John DeLorean, who is "desperate for cash to finance his dream of designing the ultimate car of the future — in a drug deal that would become the most lurid celebrity scandal of the 1980s."
The story behind DeLorean is a fascinating one, and it should make for a great film, especially with this incredible cast! The movie is being directed by Nick Hamm (The Journey,
Driven will see Pace as DeLorean, who – desperate to secure funding for his DeLorean Motor Company – is caught up in an FBI sting operation where he agreed to bankroll a cocaine smuggling operation. Sudeikis will play con-man turned FBI informant Jim Hoffman, with Olyphant as his handler.
“All filmmakers are suckers for a good story and this is a great one – and as yet, untold,” said director Nick Hamm (The Hole, Killing Bono). “It’s about ambition, success and failure in a decade where everything began to change. It’s also an intelligent and personal drama about fighting for personal success. An edge-of-your-seat, character-driven and comic wink to the world of power suits, discos and vice. Above all, it’s damn good fun.
We are pleased to launch an exclusive first look at Timothy Spall and Colm Meaney in the UK poster for The Journey – the story of two of Northern Ireland’s political forces, loyalist Ian Paisley and former Ira Commander Martin McGuinness, forced together over the final peace agreement, who reluctantly begin to form a bond.
Related: Timothy Spall on playing David Irving in Denial
The poster in which Spall looks uncannily like how Ben Stiller would look in his dotage depicts both men in their stature of power yet divided by the title, a reference to the division of Ireland as it stands, in both its political and religious beliefs.
The Hole and Killing Bono director, Nick Hamm, takes the helm to bring to life a script from screenwriter and former journalist, Colin Bateman. Joining Meaney and Spall is somewhat of a stellar cast with Toby Stephens (Believe,
Lionsgate will release the film Nov. 4 in the U.S., nabbing a prime awards season date.
In final sales, Im Global has licensed “Hacksaw Ridge” to Lionsgate U.K. for the U.K. and Elevation Pictures for Canada.
Part U.S-set drama, part WWII battlefield epic of heroism under fire, “Hacksaw Ridge” is based on the true story of Desmond Doss, a conscientious objector who refused to kill the enemy or fire a weapon because of his religious beliefs. A volunteer in the army, he served as a medic. During the Battle of Okinawa Doss stayed behind when his battalion retreated, venturing repeatedly into the kill zone to haul 75 injured men to safety. Gibson has
Spall won best actor at the Cannes Film Festival last year for “Mr. Turner.” Meaney’s credits include “Hell on Wheels” and “The Damned United.”
“The Journey” focuses on the improbable friendship between two Northern Ireland political titans and implacable enemies, Ian Paisley (Spall) and Martin McGuinness (Meaney), when forced to “take a short journey and the biggest leap of faith.” It is at this moment the future of British and Irish history is altered, as two sworn enemies put their past actions behind them, and begin to forge a friendship that would lead them to be known as “The Chuckle Brothers.”
The cast also
Shooting has begun on The Journey, a dramatic comedy inspired by a turning point in British and Irish history.
The film focuses on the improbable friendship between two Northern Ireland political titans and implacable enemies, Ian Paisley (Timothy Spall) and Martin McGuinness (Colm Meaney).
The plot of the film centres on a fictional journey Paisley and McGuinness take together that leads them to forge a friendship.
Additional cast includes Toby Stephens (Believe) as Prime Minister Tony Blair, Freddie Highmore (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) as a young government employee tasked to drive Paisley and McGuinness on their journey, and John Hurt (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy) as an accomplished veteran political fixer overseeing the St. Andrews Agreement.
Nick Hamm (The Hole, Killing Bono) directs, from a script by County Down-born novelist and screenwriter Colin Bateman.
Independent studio Im Global is financing the film through its Acclaim speciality division, in association
Im Global, which is fully financing the movie, is launching sales at the Toronto Film Festival. The pic begins production on Sept. 28 in Northern Ireland and Scotland.
The movie will focus on the improbable friendship between Martin McGuinness (played by Meaney) and Ian Paisley (Spall) in a story that follows the two Northern Ireland political titans after the signing of the breakthrough St. Andrews Agreement in 2006. The former sworn enemies grew closer in 2007, becoming known as “The Chuckle Brothers,” when they served in the Northern Ireland Assembly, with Paisley as first minister and McGuinness as his deputy.
Stephens will portray British Prime Minister Tony Blair. Highmore will play a government employee tasked to drive Paisley and McGuiness on their journey and Hurt will play an accomplished veteran political fixer overseeing the St.
Timothy Spall looks set to play the Reverend Ian Paisley in the Northern Ireland Troubles drama The Journey, which will document the firebrand politician’s unlikely friendship with Sinn Féin’s Martin McGuinness.
Deadline reports Spall is in advanced discussions to portray the late Democratic Unionist party leader in a role with significant awards season potential. Belfast-born Nick Hamm, best known for 2001’s The Hole and 2011’s Killing Bono, is set to direct from a screenplay by Divorcing Jack’s Colin Bateman.
Eight years and several big Hollywood films later, he's finally making his West End debut in the upcoming musical version of Bend It Like Beckham as musician and football coach Joe.
Digital Spy chatted with the actor about nerves, football skills and swapping Hollywood for the West End.
Bend it Like Beckham: Where are the cast of the 2002 box office hit now?
The original film has become a cult favourite. Were you a fan?
"Yeah, of course. For me, it was a point in time when I was growing up. I was either turning a teenager, or had just turned into a teenager, and obviously I was madly in love with Keira Knightley. One of the first movies that she did was a film called The Hole, and this [Bend It Like Beckham] came shortly after that,
His last big screen outing was the ridiculously creepy kids film The Hole. Don’t confuse it with the Thora Birch, Keira Knightley teen thriller, Dante’s film saw a trio of kids unearth a mysterious hole in their new house. The hole had the ability to read people’s darkest fears and has some truly terrifying scenes. Seriously I don’t know how kids made it through that film!
Now just over five years later Dante is back with a deliciously dark romantic zombie comedy. The film stars Anton Yelchin as Max,
Bend It Like Beckham, with a modest estimated budget of £3.7 million, opened that same year and became a critical and commercial success - breaking box office records and scoring BAFTA and Golden Globe nominations, as well as making household names of many of its stars.
As the cast continues preparing for the West End stage adaptation of Gurinder Chadha's screen hit ahead of previews on May 15, find out what the movie's ensemble cast went on to achieve - including who is coming back for the musical...
Parminder Nagra (Jess Bhamra)
Nominated for Best Newcomer at the Empire Awards on the back of the movie's success, Parminder went
Thankfully, Mr. Mansell is an interviewee that would put even the most nervous interviewer at ease – as he was ready and willing to engage, with thoughtful and passionate insights about his career and experiences. Speaking on the eve of the Us release of his latest film,
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