Having only shot short film ‘What goes up” director Matt Gambell has moved things up a notch with his Brit flick thriller ‘King of Crime’ which is about to open (and reviewed here). Written by Linda Dunscombe it follows a British cyber crime lord Marcus King (Mark Wingett) finding that his empire is being targeted for takeover by an Islamic terrorist organisation headed up by a Mr Mustaffa (Vas Blackwood). The film also features number of well known faces including Chris Ellison & Claire King as well as up and coming young actors Rachel Bright, Jonno Davies & Zed Josef. Speaking to us from home Matt told us about how he came to helm the project…..
AnyGoodFilms: How did you get involved with the film in the first place?
Matt Gambell : I’m 25 so when I was in university between my second and third year I realized we had a gap in our schedule because we didn’t have an exam so essentially there was a term I was paying for but not really doing anything and I’ve always been making movies and what not so I’d never really shot an entire feature film so I ended up making my first movie which was called, ‘What goes up?’ We raised about 5000 pounds for it and ended up being given a lot of resources in kind by the university and other partners were able to source and there was probably a crew of about 10-15 of us including the cast and one of the members of the cast was Francesca Louise White who played the female lead in ‘What goes up?’. So leap forward a year and we did the premiere and Francesca then gets involved with Linda with another project called ‘Fractured Minds’. As far as I’m aware Linda was then looking to make ‘King of Crime’ and they were looking for directors and Francesca recommended me. They watched ‘What goes up?’ and managed to impress with them with what I could do with a not very large budget and the style of storytelling that I have. They sent me a script and called me in for an interview and I pitched my idea for the film. I’m not a fan of the gritty London based everything is evil I just don’t like that style. It has its place by mine is a more glossy Hollywood style British gangster film in a Layer Cake style. So that’s how I ended up getting the gig.
AGF: The film was called ‘Milk and Honey’. Why the change of title?
Matt Gambell: You’d have to ask Linda why it was called ‘Milk and Honey’ I think it was mostly related to the idea of cockney rhyming slang and money. King of Crime came at the suggestion of the marketing agent and we brain stormed a whole bunch of different names and that one sort of stood out to all of us.
AGF: You’ve got a whole load of well known faces in this. Did they have to audition?
Matt Gambell: Before I was involved with the film I know Mark and Claire were already involved. Linda managed a lot of the casting. I wasn’t involved with that process.
AGF: Did you not have say in the casting?
Matt Gambell: I did. I had a say in the casting of Jonno and Rachel and the twins and the other characters. It was a proper audition process. There was three solid days of the initial auditions and having actors come through and read through the roles and whittled it down from there. With the twins we wanted to match the right people together for that and Johnno and Zed had great chemistry. Some of them if they weren’t right for certain roles we’d fit them into others. Everyone did a monologue and everyone did a read from the script depending on who they were reading for. Bryn who plays Jess’ dad he was cast in the early days and then there was a break for a year whist further funding was found. A few of the actors were from Linda’s previous movies.
AGF: So with British films budgets typically tight I wonder what problems that presented you with.
Matt Gambell : Time more than anything else. We’d shoot more than we need to give the editor tonnes of options but some scenes we had to turn around in an hour so we had to get creative with angles to at least get some of my vision into certain elements of the scenes. Certain actors we only had for a day or two because they were doing other things so we had to schedule around them and that comes with budget. You have more time and access to resources
AGF: How long was he shoot?
Matt Gambell: About three weeks. We filmed in Milton Keynes in the manor house where we stayed for eight days and at least two thirds of the film takes place in the house. Some of the stuff has not made the cut. It was intense. It was great fun but we had a lot to fit in and we only had the house for that amount of time. There were some additional pick-ups we did a bit later in November for that. The stuff in Spain we shot over 3 days over a long weekend in January.
AGF: There’s a rape sequence in this which can’t be easy to shoot. Was there any consideration of not including it?
Matt Gambell: It was quite prominent in the script and it shows just how dastardly and how far these characters are prepared to go. That location we filmed it in was a back up location. It ended up raining and we had to shoot that scene that day so we had to scramble to get what we needed. The original place we picked was more open and was more like an alley way. I think it worked doing it under this sort of bridge but I wanted it to feel quite uncomfortable because it’s something quite hard to deal with. It sets the tone of what these characters are willing to do to one another. It’s also that sort of pay off to that it is all staged. If you watch the film again there’s some stuff that stands out and pick up differently the next time you see it. We didn’t want to make light of it. If you mess it up it doesn’t work so we knew we had to commit to it and both Jonno and Rachel had the same idea for it and I consulted them before hand about if there was anything they were uncomfortable with. Jonno’s performed in A Clockwork Orange on stage so he’s used to the uncomfortably grotesque performance. They were both happy to work through it and Rachel had to get into a state to do it so were all quite careful to make sure she was OK. I think if you hide certain things the audience realise that you’re not fully committed to it.
AGF: So this is your first full feature debit. What’s next?
Matt Gambell : There’s one shot in the movie which they drive away escaping the house and Rachel , Jess and Andrew drive away in the car and that whole sequence was quite crazy to do and choreograph them escaping but it was massively cut down in the final edit and that really inspired me to do something action heavy more down the action-adventure route. I’m a fan of comedy and that’s my background shooting comedy and I would love to do something of a heist movie like The Nice Guys or Rush Hour, just a fun, fun movie.
AGF: So in that genre what are your three favorite movies?
Matt Gambell: oh my all time favorite movie is Back to the future I just think it’s a perfect family film and I’m a time travel nerd. Zemeckis use of deep staging is really interesting to me. Its colourful, well staged and all the performances are solid. The Nice Guys is just a phenomenal film. Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe had a brilliant chemistry together and I’m a big fan of the duo dynamic and the bickering when they know each other so well when they’re dealing with their own relationship in quite complex situations. It’s like with Rush Hour where you hear a couple in the street just arguing about the most pedantic thing. I like heist pictures too so the Oceans movies I just like the slick nature of those and shamelessly well not shamelessly I love the Fast & Furious films. Someone pointed this out to me recently in that they’re just superhero movies with cars and it’s an interesting take on that genre. I’m a big fan of Chris Nolan’s work too.
AGF: So nothing immediate lined up at present then?
Matt Gambell: Well I’m a video games designer by day so that’s what I spend most of my time doing at the moment
AGF : There’s a documentary on Grand Theft Auto just started.
Matt Gambell: It’s been strange for me getting into the games industry because I’ve met a lot of the people behind the games I played growing up and I’ve had some really great conversations about how their business works. For me it’s not mutually exclusive there’s a lot of cross pollination in designing games and the experience the end user has.
AGF: Difficult to make a successful film adaptation of a game though apart from Resident Evil
Matt Gambell : Yes but I think that’s because they go so far away from the games but you can tell he’s a lot of enthusiasm for them in the movies. There’s a load of old adventure games that I would consider trying to revive as a film
AGF: Well any improvement on Super Mario Bros would be welcome!
Matt Gambell: (laughs) You’re right there, Simon.