No word on distribution for Paul Fraser’s My Brothers, but if you’re in New York, there are still tickets for the final Tribeca Film Festival screening on Friday, April 30, at 6pm at the Clearview Chelsea Cinemas, and you can get tickets on the official site.
(Since we’re convinced this will be one of the festival’s Audience Award winners, you might get another chance to see it Sunday, fingers crossed!)
One of the standout movies at the 2010 Tribeca Film Festival, at least in terms of narrative films, is Paul Fraser’s directorial debut My Brothers, a warm and funny road trip movie about three brothers who travel across the Irish countryside in a broken-down delivery truck to get a new watch for their dying father.
Although Fraser’s name might not jump out at you, he’s the screenwriter behind a number of the movies directed by one of England’s finest independent filmmakers Shane Meadows, and he’s made quite an amazing debut with material that’s not exactly the easiest to pull off well. Besides being a bonafide road movie, Fraser cast three completely new and unknown actors with Timmy Creed, playing the eldest brother Noel whose father is dying, leaving the family in ruins. After Noel borrows his father’s beloved wristwatch and it’s smashed by bullies, he decides he must replace it before his father dies. Unfortunately, his younger brothers 11-year-old Paudie (Paul Courtney) and 7-year-old Scwally (TJ Griffin) insist on tagging along on Noel’s journey to replace the broken watch, the three of them getting into all sorts of predicaments along the way.
With Creed handling the drama and the two younger boys delivering hilariously eccentric performances, it’s a movie that at times bears resemblances to many crowdpleasing films, from John Carney’s heartwarming Irish indie Once to Garth Jennings’ The Son of Rambow and even a little bit of Little Miss Sunshine, yet still retaining very much its own identity and tone. But he most amazing thing about My Brothers? They finished filming the movie just four months before its premiere at Tribeca.
That’s one of the many things we learned when ComingSoon.net sat down with Paul Fraser to talk about the movie, and of course, the first thing we wondered was why a movie that feels so much like a script Fraser might have written, was actually written by someone else.
ComingSoon.net: I think it’s surprising to some that the first movie you’re directing is from a script that you didn’t write. How did you find this script and decide to tackle it as a director?
Paul Fraser: Yeah, well, I always had the intention to direct at some point. I’d gotten close to saying “yes” on a couple of projects, not my scripts, then this project came up. I always assumed I’d write and direct my own film and I think I will do further down the line, but for this first one, it was kind of real positive for me not to do the writing, just to focus on the direction a bit as well. I think it really helped me. About this time two years ago, we’d just been here with “Somers Town” with Shane, and I went back over to the U.K. and I got a call from the Irish Film Board and they said, “There’s a guy who’s written a script. Would you have a read of it?” So I read it to advise the guy basically, a bit of script doctoring work. I read it and I thought, “This is bloody good. This is a very good script.” The strange thing about this script, it was very close to my kind of work and it was like something I’d written myself. This guy called Will Collins wrote the script, and his voice is very similar to mine. But he’d never written anything in his life, so it was 200 pages, a hundred pages too long, full of silly little things that were easily-adjusted, easily-repaired. I just had some conversations with him. He went away and he came back and the changes that he made were just really spot on and yeah, it just really impressed me. So I just said to him, “I’ll keep advising you. Just keep sending me drafts and I’ve got to follow the process and see how it goes for you.” A couple more revisions and a couple of drafts later I kind of very casually said to the development guy at the Irish Film Board, Andrew Meehan, I said to him, “I’d be interested in directing it,” and it just kinda steamrolled to a point where I didn’t have that kind of moment where I could change my mind. It all went a bit quick. The producers–Rob, Rebecca–they came on board and we got a very small budget and we shot it for next to nothing in four weeks and crazy and impossible schedules every day. The origins of it was as an advisor, but just, it really resonated for me as a story and the way the guy had written. As a writer, he was very collaborative and open and I said to him, “Can I have a go at a little scene here and do these kind of things?” He was absolutely fine with it. So, we kind of worked in the same way that Shane and I work in terms of when we develop…
CS: Sort of switching roles?
Fraser: Yeah, yeah. I got to go and play golf whilst he did revisions. (Laughs)
CS: I spoke to J Blakeson who directed “The Disappearance of Alice Creed,” who’s also a screenwriter and has been working in that capacity for years but he always wanted to be a director. Has that always been the case with you as well?
Fraser: In a funny kind of a way, I wanted to just have a go and see what I felt. I never started out saying, “I want to be a film director.” I was a writer and I directed performance and theater stuff and kind of wrote and directed my own stage shows over in the UK, never massively successful in any kind of dimension, but that was the kinda catalyst for me doing writing. Then Shane had asked me to write a script with him years and years back then. I mean, it just kind of naturally happened. I just became a screenwriter. I never really had the intention or massive desire to say, “I’m going to direct eventually.” There wasn’t a ladder for me to say, “Well, that’s ultimately what I’m going to be doing.” I genuinely took it on as… I wanted to have a go. I’d done some shorts and I’ve done some music videos and things like that and some commercials to kind of build up a bit of a showreel and see how I felt and what I thought about it. Yeah, there’s never a real massive intention. I was a writer and I still am a writer and going back to the UK, I’m working on writing two scripts. One of them I might film myself potentially, but I’ve been writing them for a couple of years and I never had the intention to write that to potentially direct, I guess, but I think I might do it.
CS: Now that you have this under your belt, do you feel more comfortable possibly directing your own scripts.
Fraser: Yeah, it was something I had to have a go at and the opportunity were offered to direct something based on the stuff I’d done as a writer, I guess, so it would have been silly not to and I genuinely just thought, “There’s no harm in having a go at it and if I don’t enjoy it or if I’m rubbish at it, or if it doesn’t kind of feel right for me, I don’t have to do it again.”
CS: The first one’s the hardest and it’s gotta get easier.
Fraser: Yeah, it’s a massive learning curve, I mean, it is. The next time–I want there to be a next time–I actually came up with that decision in the end. Initially, like I said, I was just trying it out, but I definitely want to do more. But the massive learning curve you go through just in terms of going into your second project, which is to say like, “This time, these are the conversations we’ll have at the beginning. This is how it needs to work and this is what we need to do and this is how I work.”
CS: So in this movie, the stars are three kids and working with kids in general is always hard, but the three kids you went with, none of them had made a movie before either.
Fraser: That’s right, yeah.
CS: Can you talk about why you made that decision and did you go through a massive audition process to find them?
Fraser: Yeah, we set up down in Cork in Ireland where the film was set. It’s a beautiful city and we did the press release in newspapers and radio and internet just saying, “Do you want to be in a film? You don’t have to have any experience. We’re looking for three boys to play brothers duh, duh, duh, duh. Come down to the venue.” So, all these people, loads of people turned up. It was kind of like an “America’s Got Talent” kind of thing with people just like, streaming in all day–really inappropriate people like 40-year-old men were coming in going, “I want to play the little boy.” “Maybe if you shave, I dunno.” (chuckles) But yeah, the three kids were completely untrained, hadn’t done anything. I mean, it wasn’t a conscious decision to say, “I’m not going to work with professionals.” I met a couple of professionals and if they were good I woulda worked with them, but they didn’t feel right for the part. Through my kind of background with Shane and the projects I’ve done with him in the past, we started off kinda making little homemade videos and stuff when we were 16 onwards and renting old VHS cameras. We used to do stuff with mates, so friends would be in it and then we’d edit it and then we’d show it like, the next evening. It was just a silly little homemade videos, you know? After a few years of doing that, Shane got this opportunity to direct a film called “24/7” and we used all our mates basically. I mean, we gave them all parts and it was the first time we were able to pay any of our mates to be in a film, but none of them are professional. So it’s never been alien to kind of work with untrained (actors), but these kids are – they were pretty immense.
Pages: 1 2 3