I’m immensely proud to call Jonathan an Industry friend and just adore catching up with him, there’s always something awesome in the pipeline. I figured it was about time for a follow up to our previous 2013 catch up.
So, enough from me, here’s the man himself.
K – Last time we spoke you were in the middle of producing Vendetta starring Danny Dyer, I actually bought a few copies of this film as a secret santa present, how did the films release go?
J – It was great — we were very lucky in that Steve Reynolds the director made a brilliant film and the public gave us a chance. We never dared hope it would do as well as it did. When it was (positively!) reviewed on film 2013 my phone literally exploded. I remember speaking to Danny Dyer on Christmas Eve, the day it started filtering into stores and we were both a little bit “here goes nothing” — making a good film just isn’t enough anymore, you have to convince people to buy it. Fortunately Danny really got behind the movie and his fanbase realised that if he was supporting it then chances are it was probably decent. There were a lot of reviews along the lines of “this film is surprisingly good.” I’d made so much crap, Danny had made so much crap (hell, we’d made so much crap together!) that people had low expectations. But it just goes to show that even if you have a tiny budget, with a great script, director, cast and crew you can achieve something that works commercially and (dare I say it) critically. We were very lucky – we owned Christmas in the Brit indie sector last year… but now I have the huge pressure of another revenge movie in the same release window… again its a good movie (possibly my best) but we just have to hope that the public see that and give it a chance!
K – You’re in the middle of another film now, can you tell me a little about how that is going?
J – I’ve actually just wrapped a ticking clock action film called AGE OF KILL starring Martin Kemp and directed by Neil Jones. Great supporting cast including Patrick Bergin, Nick Moran, Dexter Fletcher and Phil Davis. I can’t wait to see how that comes together. I’ve been lucky to work with two talented and easy directors this year in the form of Sacha Bennett and Neil Jones, as well as some absolutely amazing actors. There are two great sides to casting these films – working with actors you’ve always admired (this year alone Ian Ogilvy, Ali Doody, Chris Ellison, Patrick Bergin, Lysette Anthony etc etc) and then finding young faces and bringing through a new generation. This year it has been such a pleasure to work with Dani Dyer, Danny-Boy Hatchard, Red Madrell, April Pearson and more. The future of the British film industry is looking very healthy with talent like that on the rise.
K – Now we’re twitter friends, I can see you’ve been very busy of late, including a recent trip to LA, can you tell me if it was for business or pleasure? Should we expect a more hollywood approach to films from you now?
J – It was business. I coincided my trip with the American Film Market but met with an American company I’ve long admired to talk about co-production opportunities. So next year we’ll definitely be making at least two – I expect they’ll be set in London, the first couple anyway, but you’ll notice an increasing amount of American talent involved in my films. I am a huge advocate of British films, but the genre films I make just don’t travel internationally, so I am constantly trying to strike the right balance of what works here and what will sell internationally.
K – What should we look out from you in 2015?
J – Hopefully that balance I just mentioned — UK genre films can only take you so far. The rest of the world isn’t interested in parochial UK crime (or horror, for that matter). I’m doing a vampire movie that starts shooting in March which I’m very excited about. Then these two American co-productions. We’re also still trying to nail Vendetta 2 – Steve, Danny and I have always said that we’ll only do a sequel if its bigger and more importantly better than the first. We are all incredibly proud of it and it would be awful to let that film’s very loyal following down. We have a plan – its just a case of when. Obviously Danny’s busy being the best thing on TV, Reynolds is directing big action movies abroad. Its just me sat in the park eating cray fish sandwiches for my lunch not doing anything! Seriously though, Jimmy Vickers will be back on screen soon…. just be patient!
K – And finally, you listed Star wars as one of your top 3 films. That trailer eh? Your thoughts on JJ Abrams taking on that director role?
J – Well its tough isn’t it because those are some enormous boots to fill but I think JJ Abrams is a serious talent and if anyone can pull it off he can. I did a picture with Mark Hamill years ago and he was a lovely guy so it’ll be great to see him, Ford and Fisher back on the big screen together. Of course, growing up i the 80s I saw the original trilogy as a kid, so I don’t know if these new ones will have quite the same magic for me… but never say never! I still think a New Hope is an incredibly underrated film – Empire gets all the love and I get that, but in A New Hope you have two world class older actors (Cushing and Guiness) who just give it so much gravity. And the shot of Luke looking at the two suns setting is one of my favourites in any movie ever.
Watch out for Jonathan this coming year and follow him on the Twitter @Sothcott