With the release of Everybody’s Going To Die, the Jones collective’s first fantastic feature length film, I got the chance to sit down and ask them a few questions about the making of it, the themes behind it and get to hear about their upcoming work. If you haven’t read my review of the film, the link is here.
Where did the inspiration for Everyone’s Going To Die come from?
So many places. Movies we like. Life. Frustration with not being where we wanted to be. It was also inspired by the idea of doing something very small and contained on a very low budget and trying to make it as entertaining as a bigger movie. Hopefully we succeeded!
How much did the location, Folkestone, have an imprint of the themes and character arc’s seen in the film?
Well the themes and character stuff was there in the script before we’d ever been to Folkestone. The film was always set by the coast, for those thematic reasons but also some visual ones. We just loved the way Folkestone looks. It has a really cool, unique aura about it.
We were always looking for a British coastal town that felt somehow like it’s own place. We get a lot of questions about where it was shot, and we like the idea that people can’t immediately tell. It’s really supposed to be set out of place, out of time. In a kind of limbo, like the characters, somewhere between movie land and reality. There should be elements you recognise as Britain and elements you don’t.
So Folkestone really matched what we had in mind, rather than defining the movie or changing our ideas.
When you were writing the script, did you realise it would be peppered with black comedy that serves as a balancing act between real-life and fiction?
Right! Exactly – that’s the balance we’re talking about. It was always supposed to be funny, although we’ve gone back and forth as to whether to call it a comedy, because it’s probably also more serious than that.
We definitely never thought of it as a black comedy, although a lot of people have described it that way. Maybe we’re just weird and what’s black to other people is normal to us. Really the majority of the humour for us is in the fact that sometimes life just won’t cut you a fucking break. And that can be really funny, especially if you’re busy trying to be a shady underworld dude (like Ray) or a cool postmodern romantic (like Melanie). There’s always something funny about watching someone try to keep their dignity.
For example the cat scene. For us, that isn’t funny just because of what happens to the cat (which would maybe be black comedy), it’s funny because you know the emotional politics of the situation, and what the cat represents, and the fact that Ray hardly knows these people etc. And you just imagine how you’d feel if that happened to you.
With the fantastic reaction of South By South West, how did you want to pitch this film to audiences in the UK?
We didn’t know how to pitch it, to be honest, and we still don’t. Pitching seems to involve pegging it to a bunch of other similar movies, and one thing we definitely wanted to do was make our own movie without trying to join a club.
The two things about it that everyone seems to agree on are a kind of indie, non-genre spirit and an element of humour. So we ended up calling it an indie comedy. Perhaps because of the lack of a genre to put it in, quite a few reviewers have called it a rom com, which for us is asking for disappointment. If you like most rom coms, you will probably not like this movie.
On the other hand if you’re a romantic person who likes to be made to laugh, it’s aimed squarely at you.
With the incredible performances of the lead two characters played by Rob Knighton and Nora Tschirner, how did you come across these two actors and what part of their work made you think they would fit this type of performance?
The casting is a very long story. We had no idea what we were doing. The short version is that Rob had never acted before, but we found him through a photographer friend. Nora is a superstar in Germany and we somehow got her the script through one of those weird strokes of luck that you look back on and can’t believe really happened.
It wasn’t so much about their previous work as their personalities. Nora is a very funny person and Rob is a cool dude, (and vice versa). If someone has that in them you always hope you can draw it out on screen, whereas previous work can have been affected by any number of things, not least the other director…
What have you got planned next?
We have a few things in the works. Two movies and a TV thing. The films are both comedies again. One in the same spirit as EGTD – it’s called ‘Firebird’ and it’s about a magician who loses an eye and then finds out nobody likes him. The other is a comic Viking Sci-Fi fable. Working title is ‘Behold, Norseman!’.
The TV thing is called Hot Gospel – it’s a kind of lo-fi Curb Your Enthusiasm meets Frances Ha, about fame.
See, we’re getting better at pitching already.
With Jones being a collective, is it strictly a team based idea or is it more one person’s idea which is then collectively grown over a period of time with various input?
No, we work on the ideas jointly. One of us writes, the other edits and we direct together. But the end result is very much both of ours, so if it’s rubbish you can blame us both equally.
How did working with Charlie Simpson on the soundtrack come about?
We shot a couple of music videos for Charlie, got on really well and saw what a talented guy he is. When he said he was into the idea of doing a movie soundtrack, it was the easiest decision ever.
Everybody’s Going To Die is now available through Video On Demand services such as Amazon Instant Video, blinkbox, FilmFlex, Google Play, iTunes, and can be streamed on the Playstation and Xbox gaming consoles. You can also pre-order the physical DVD release too as well as see where the nearest screening.