A short while ago I watched a rather awesome and thrilling movie called Awaiting, written and directed by Mark Murphy (you can read my review here). I have to say that I really enjoyed it, not only because it is proper thrilling (English slang ftw!) but because the actors and director seem to have really put their soul into the production. So I was very fortunate when I received a reply for an interview from the director himself.
I caught up with Murphy in Rome while he was enjoying a quick getaway in a small bar, well, that is to say, he was in Rome and I was speaking to him over the phone while NOT being in Rome. Murphy put some time aside to chat to me about being a film maker and his latest creation Awaiting, starring Tony Curran, Diana Vickers and Rupert Hill. I was even more fortunate to have caught him while he was relaxing because the world premier for Awaiting will be held at the fantasporto 2015 film festival on 1 March and I can imagine Murphy will be a very busy man after!
Awaiting, like your first movie The Crypt, was shot on a tight budget, has a small cast and was filmed over a relatively short period. How do you feel about your second film compared to your first?
Well, Awaiting I wrote many years back and it’s gone through various rewrites and incarnations as a character driven piece. It has a lot of twists and a lot more thought and attention and passion behind it (than The Crypt). And I think that is what is coming through now. As a film maker it’s very hard to be objective about your own work, but you have an instinct that when you watch it you KNOW whether it’s going to find friends when it meets the market place and with Crypt I knew this wasn’t going to be the same thing (although it is actually doing quite well in France on Blu-ray). With Awaiting, I know I’ve got a good film there. It’s not a traditional film, it has that slow build up and is almost 70’s in its pacing but when you get past that 30 minute mark it yanks you in and I’m proud of it, I really am.
Many British film makers deliberately market towards a home crowd. Did you do that with Awaiting?
Well the market I was looking at, the audience, was not a British audience. I wanted to make a film that Americans could like, South Africans could like, anyone around the world. I find a lot of British films, with some exceptions of course, are very colloquial, very regional and target a particular audience which is why they often don’t find an audience overseas. I mean I really love the American film making way. They do it with such passion and enthusiasm, it seems like their two main goals are to entertain and build the industry. What I feel is that British films are sometimes for self-congratulatory purposes; they want to say ‘look how clever we are’.
What was it like working with such a small cast of actors and are you a strict director?
Well it was intense, it was fantastic. When you’ve got three principle actors, you’ve got two, three days of rehearsals together you get to achieve so much. I’m also not precious about every word remaining the same (as the script) and enjoy the actors playing off each other. Like that one scene when Lauren (Vickers) says “you don’t think I’m good enough for Jake?” and Morris (Curran) says “In a million years he couldn’t be good enough for you”. In the script he goes on to say “besides, you’re too young” but Curran added on “You little monkey”. Now in rehearsal he did that as a joke and I said my god that’s fantastic! So without that time with just the three of us we wouldn’t get moments like that.
When working with someone as versatile as Tony Curran, did you have to prep him before each scene, or does he do a lot of his own spontaneous work?
I’ll tell you a story and when you speak to Tony he may tell you the same thing. Before Tony accepted the role we had a few skype chats about how to portray the character; I had a few ideas and he would say he kinda liked that or that. Then about a week before I headed up to York for pre-production I had to move to a new flat and I got a phone call and I didn’t recognise it cus it was an international number. So I answered (Ed: right now Mark is trying to sound Scottish, not doing a good job…) and got a “Hello Mark?” from a voice I didn’t recognise. I asked who it was and the answer was “It’s Morris here, how are you?” I was like sh*t is this someone I owe money to? And I got really scared! Of course it was Tony practising with different stuff.
The three main actors have very different backgrounds experiences in acting. Did that pose challenges/create opportunities?
They obviously have three very different backgrounds. Tony is a Hollywood actor and you can see that. Rupert is a great, what with his six years on Coronation Street, he’s got that great emotional range and Diana of course is very young but she’s a natural performer. Rupert was the one who would talk to me about trying more things and I think a lot of that comes from a burning hunger that he really wants to concentrate more on films now. Tony has this natural gear that kicks in. You know, like he’s worked with some of the best like Spielberg, Scott, etc, so he would come with an idea and get on with it. Rupert was very close to his role and if he felt something wasn’t quite right he’d question it. With Diana this is her second film, she made one last year in South Africa called Perfect Wave, so I think she was more trusting. So three different styles that was a pleasure for me as a director to experience.
Any funny moments while filming?
Well you know I am a complete publicity whore and when Tony was saying to me (after a scene I won’t mention as SPOILER), “that was the most intense scene I’ve ever done, that’s just so dark, I’ve never done anything quite like that” I think he was expecting me to say Tony you were great, and blah blah blah, you were fantastic, good job blah blah blah. Instead I just said to him that’s great Tony, why don’t you tweet that? He was like, erm, okay… We had a lot of fun on that set, I think that’s important.
Do you think it’s a very bloody movie?
It’s really tricky you know, the movie world is moving so fast, if you watched something like this 15 years ago it would have been the most shocking thing you have ever seen. But now you look at things on TV like Game of Thrones or the Walking Dead, like there is one scene in Thrones where a guy’s head is split open and it’s only just gone 9 o’clock! I think the difference with Awaiting is that it’s very real. A very real scenario with very real characters which is what makes it that much more shocking. I mean that one scene is fairly horrific but you should see the footage that I have that I could have left in! (laughs). I think it was effective and will be a talking point which helps people remember. I don’t think it’s the most disgusting film out there at all.
As I said earlier I really enjoyed the movie. With its focus on just a few characters and more crazy twists than a roller-coaster it left me with red wine stains down my shirt!. I will say though Murphy got very excited while I interviewed him and accidently let slip quite a few major spoilers, much to the dismay of his girlfriend, so I won’t post the audio file here!
We haven’t been given any solid release dates yet and so are still awaiting (BOOM!) feedback from distributors after the upcoming festival premier, but I’ll keep you all updated.
Last Updated: January 22, 2015