Entrevistei, pessoalmente, o escocês John McPhail, realizador de "Anna and the Apocalypse" - uma longa-metragem de Terror com temática lésbica! A entrevista aconteceu aquando da 12.ª edição do MOTELX - Festival Internacional de Cinema de Terror de Lisboa, que se realizou no Cinema São Jorge.
Visto que a língua de conversação foi o inglês, resolvi não traduzir o que foi dito (quem não está à vontade com o inglês, basta ir ao canto superior direito do blog, ao "Translate", e seleccionar a língua mais conveniente). A entrevista, foi gravada por meio digital, e foi totalmente transcrita assegurando assim, a naturalidade de uma conversa que durou mais de 60 minutos onde, claro está, foi uma enorme honra para mim puder fazer todas as perguntas que tinha planeado... e ter respostas incríveis!
|O realizador e argumentista escocês John McPhail|
Lisboa, 8 de Setembro de 2018, no Cinema São Jorge.
Adolescente Gay: For the people that don’t know you, how would you present yourself?
John McPhail: I’m usually very “a play it down”. I don’t like or want to be a “Hey baby, I’m a director”. I like to be funny. I like to get to know people. I’m not always working.
Usually, when I tell people that I’m a director, they say “Of what? “and I say “Traffic!“.
AG: How was your childhood?
JM: I had a great childhood. I have two loving parents who are both very close. They are very tight. There are four of us: my mother, my father, my brother and me. We are very close. My mother is a big film fan. She loves film. I don’t have anyone in the family who’s in the arts. My mother was a social worker and my father was a painter and a decorator. My mother, for as long as I remember, has been giving me horror movies. When I was nine and was off school she taped two movies, on VHS, for me. She really wanted me to see the second movie. The movie was the Wicker Man. So, she came home from work and she said to me: How was the movie?... I replied “They’ve killed him, they’ve bumped him in the end. The bad guys won”.
My mother would put her head around the door and she would say The Uneven Dead is on channel four. It was a really good childhood.
AG: How did you feel watching horror films at nine years old?
JM: I loved them. I’ve always loved horror movies. They scared me and that’s the point of them and as I got older I laughed and laughed and laughed.
AG: So horror films are a thing in the family?
JM: My mother… My brother likes them and my father watches football.
AG: So it’s a thing a special relationship between you and your mother.
JM: She loves horror. She loves all genres but particularly horror. When I was first born, she would be tidying the house and she would put me in a chair and she would put on “An American Werewolf in London.” And I would sit.
AG: When you were a child did you know that you were going to be a film director or did you have other ideas?
JM: First when I was younger I wanted to be an actor and do Drama and Workshops. In my last years of school, I thought about what I wanted to do and I loved cameras, lighting and framing so I wanted to be a cameraman or a director of photography. I only started directing six years ago because I was working in the camera department. I was a camera assistant and that’s not very creative. I was feeling that I wanted to create so I made my first short film and it was very good. It seems to work and I just fell in love with making movies and working with actors and the different departments. I sort of grew into it.
AG: Did you made movies already in your teen years?
JM: We didn’t have a lot of money so we didn’t have a camera.
My father had a VHS camera from the nineties and I used this to get into college. I made stop-motion animations with my action figures as my entry project.
AG: So you studied at the Royal Conservatory of Scotland. What was your major back in college?
JM: It was cinematography. I was working towards being a director of photography.
AG: You never wanted to do anything else?
JM: I just love film.
AG: What made you change your idea from wanting to be an actor to being behind the camera?
JM: I was just fascinated with the equipment, with lenses, with framing, with lights. I was leaving school and I didn’t think that I was going to be an actor. I knew inside me that I wasn’t the best actor but I was a young boy and the only way to get into film, into anything was in Theatre ( loud plays ). It was never big. I never got big roles. It was always medium roles because I was funny. By going and doing loud plays it made me more confident. A confident person. I could talk to people. I was never shy and it helped me as a person, to be able just to talk and be me.
AG: How long was your degree?
JM: I had two years in college and then two years at University.
AG: What do you feel about the years spent in college?
JM: I look back and now I can say that I could have done better but at the time I was 17 to 21 and I was still growing up. I was a big child, I was immature. At the time I was having fun, growing up. It’s the point of college and university. It’s about finding you, finding your personality and meeting people. Going out and just growing up. You can always look back in insight and say “ Oh I could have done better”, but at the time I was doing my best.
AG: So your years spent there were pretty good?
JM: Yeah, very good.
AG: While you were in college and since college is costly…
JM: It’s free in Scotland. Education is free and so is health care.
AG: What is like to be living in Scotland?
JM: I grew up just outside of Glasgow. It’s rough growing up. I love Scotland. I love my home… I love my country… I love the people. We’re so friendly and very inviting.
A funny fact: one year we were voted as UK’s most dangerous setting and Europe’s most friendlier setting so, we will assault you but we’ll give you directions to the hospital afterwards.
AG: I can tell that you like Scotland a lot and I like a lot to eat? What would you recommend me to eat while visiting your country?
JM: Haggis, neeps and tatties.
AG: So now we come to the present day. Why “Anna and the Apocalypse”?
JM: I was given a script. Two producers saw my feature film in the Glasgow festival and they’ve been looking at horror directors and musical directors. They hadn’t found the right fit. They approached me with the script. I read the script and I just fell in love with the characters. It was always about the characters and I love the story. I love the humour. I remember telling it to my friends while I was reading it and saying “ I feel like I could have written this. This is my humour. These are my kind of characters.” This has got so much heart to it that I just fell in love with it.
Previously, it was always Comedy. I had never done Horror or Musicals. I’ve never done action sequences and this excited me.
AG: Since you already won a lot of prizes with your work did you feel more responsible or pressure in directing another writers’ script?
JM: Well first I was given a script. My co-writer Andy McDonald had taken over completely full time of the writing and I was just like a director for hire.
I get a script and I talk about what I see … see where it’s going to go and what I’d do and the producers liked that and wanted that.
Of course, there’s always pressure on anything but it’s never going to consume me.
I’m too excited.
AG: When you received the script was it already a Comedy/ Musical/ Horror film?
JM: Yes, they were all there. There were six songs. I think three of them stayed the same, the rest all changed. That’s just the progression and, of course, when I come on board I got what I’m looking for. But I’ve two amazing composers … the script was very funny. I sort of wanted to put my stamp all over that even though it’s not my script. I’m telling this story. So, I’m working with my composers and the writer all the time to just get it where it is.
AG: What was the project, made before “Anna and the Apocalypse”, that was the most important to you… the one that you are most proud of?
JM: I’m proud of all of them because they’re a progression. It’s like going to work every day, you learn something new.
When you’re a young filmmaker you always have to be ready to learn. So, with each different project, I learned something new. I learned more about me as a storyteller. Even now and in 10, 20, 30 years I will still be learning. I’ll still be discovering things. I would just become more confident and understand my weaknesses and strengths more and it’s just a case of making sure that I can balance them.
AG: What was the main difficulty in shooting “Anna and the Apocalypse”?
JM: We shot it in 28 days so, it was over five weeks. The things that are always up against you is time and money. When I was shooting, I average 3 to 4 hours sleep at night because I was up prepping and, again I’ve never done Musicals or Horror and I’ve never done Action, so I wanted to make sure that every day I was prepared and knew exactly what was going on in each day with each character, each scene, shots. I just wanted to make sure everything was prepared. Every day I had something difficult but, you know, this is my dream job so I’m not going to complain about it.
AG: What‘s the scene that you are most proud of?
JM: There are a few: the snow angel scene (between John and Anna); the play park because there they’re just being kids (there’s so much heart in it, so much fun) and some of the musical moments, the bowling action sequence , when the kids are fighting zombies and I’m also very proud of the shop and trolley scene between John and Ana.
I love the two of them in the same frame, the two of them together.
AG: What was the main challenge about preparing the technical aspects of shooting the movie? Was it something difficult for you?
JM: I love light. I love colour. My director of Photography is just wonderful.
She loves colour that’s why I chose her because she understands it. She likes big frames. I like big frames. She loves colour. I love colour so, it’s just like easy. The camera team that I used to work for were my A Camera team so it was great to have my bosses working for me.
My gaffer (the head of the lighting department) … I used to bother him all the time as a camera trainee. I’d bring him coffee and when we were on location the sparks that the lighting department had generated. They were the only ones that have got mobile power and you always have to have battery charge, so I used to make coffee for them and go “ Hey boys, some coffee, some coffee. Can I charge these?” and they would say “F*** off ”.
So, it was a lot of fun cause I knew a lot of people on that set, particularly in the camera department, in the lighting department and they worked so hard for me.
AG: In what part of the year did you shoot the film?
JM: We shot it in February and it was finished in September.
AG: Since the film is a mixture of three genres, at some point, did you try to emphasize one genre over the other two?
JM: I brought a lot of the Horror. I believe that the horror comes from the fear for the kids. Our array isn’t the biggest of horror fans. Both the Musical and Comedy were understood but the Horror isn’t their big thing. So, the horror aspect is something that I can say has a lot to do with me. What I always wanted to do was to make sure that the kids’ characters and their story arcs all went straight through. They all had to have arcs. They all had to have their moments otherwise the payoff when you start to lose them, wouldn’t work. You wouldn’t care.
AG: I love the soundtrack. The lyrics are fantastic. My favourite was the one when the girl is on stage singing about Santa Claus. That was hilarious. How was it like to shoot those kinds of scenes and was this song existed from the beginning?
JM: That’s Roddy and Tommy, my composers. The main thing for me was that I didn’t want to oversexualize a seventeen-year-old girl. In the original script, it said that she was doing moves that would make Miley Cyrus blush and I didn’t want that at all. It said that she was touching the boys and grinding up to them and I said “No“.
The moment I do that, I sexualize a seventeen-year-old girl and I’m not doing that. It has to be cheeky. So, they’re dancers. They dance behind her and support her but the lyrics to that song were all Roddy, Tommy and Alan.
AG: There are references in the movie to famous pop singers. Some of them are made fun at. Is that sort of a personal view on the matter?
JM: No, we just think that Just Bieber is a douche bag and … Who doesn’t love Beyoncé? There are so many things there that are just little touches of the script. Remember this: they are kids. Kids make fun. They make jokes and they talk about celebrities.
When the kids are talking about them that’s what kids do. We all talked about celebrities that we liked, that we disliked. You know. Who’s going to funny to be eaten by a Zombie? That’s what kids do. When you have these kids doing that it’s funny but it all just reminds you that they’re just kids at the end of the day.
AG: Yesterday, I saw the film and I felt like one of the messages was the empowerment to all the characters. Was that something that you wanted to portray?
JM: Yes, of course, the sense of empowerment. So, with Ana, she’s just a young girl who wants to go and see the world. A lot of people always have to have a girl that has to have a love interest. She has to fall in love with someone and run away with them. We never wanted that. She’s supposed to be a 21 st century girl that has her own mind and wants to do her own things, wants to explore and see the world. They all have their own quirks.
Even the bully, we think he’s a douche bag that he’s not nice and then you realized that his dad was just horrible. He’s a product of his own environment.
It’s always about trying to make sure that we remember they’re kids. I always believe that if we have them that way, we feel for them. We understand what they want in life because we all wanted things when we were younger. We all wanted that dream job, that dream girl. By having dreams and ambitions it makes them real so that when we get to the third act and the characters are dying, there’s peril … real peril … because you know them, you like them. You know where they want to go… You know their dreams and ambitions and then all of a sudden they’re gone.
We have a gay character in the film, Steph. We don’t make any gay jokes. We don’t make any reference to that because that’s part of the world and its part of life. Something else we wanted to do was to make sure that we were being gentle on that. It’s just the world we live now so we never wanted to make anything of it. It’s just who she is. Nobody talks about her because it’s normal.
AG: Do you think that the empowerment aspect in the movie could also be addressed, trough this character, to the LGBT community or do you think that that’s a non-issue today?
JM: There are people out there that are homophobic or have problems and issues with this … We don’t. For me this is normal. I don’t mind who you love or who you want to be with. I don’t care what your sexuality wants to be. None of us does. None in my team do. We just believe that we have to accept people for what they are. We live in the 21 st century.
If you want to be a man, then go and be a man or if you want to be with a woman… it’s not up to me.
The character Steph is gay but why make a point of that?
AG: The choreographies are very well made. How was it like to film those scenes?
JM: They were fun. “Steph”, Sara Swire, is the actress and the choreographer.
She’s just wonderful.
We shot Hollywood ending on day 2, the scene in the canteen, and it was very fun to shoot. We shot it in two days but the sequence end we shot it in one day. All my backgrounds were all dancers. The kids in the Cafeteria were dancers and we had to pick things up and move things so, people could dance on tables. We incorporated that into the dance routine so, they took ownership of things and in consequence, it was very easy to reset. They knew that they would pick that up… that that’s theirs and they’d know where they’d put it.
My camera crew was very good. We knew what angles we wanted, what angles to take, what shoots we wanted to do and things like that. So, we were very well prepped.
AG: Do you still own Worrying Drake Productions?
JM: Yes. My company rents me out.
AG: Why did you create it?
JM: I needed a company when I was making my short films. I gave up the production company. I was making the films and I wanted people to understand that there is a brand. Worrying Drake Productions is that brand that we wanted to make. It’s that Comedy with heart.
AG: Do you feel that yours is a successful company?
JM: Well this film is doing very well, particularly with the audiences.
We wake up every day and something crazy has happened: Empire Magazine was nominating us for an award; being also selected to another festival.
It’s just crazy every day. For me that’s success.
AG: Do you feel happy about how things are going for you?
JM: Yes. 100 %.
AG: You’re a young director with several awards won. Do you feel more pressure because of that, since more potential criticism could come along?
JM: I make films for audiences. It’s not for me or my mother. Besides that, we’re a team. We take success and criticism together.
AG: Is it true that this particular movie is going to the USA commercial circuit? How do you feel about it?
JM: I feel amazing. It’s MGM, a lion logo in the front of my movie. I grew up watching Terminator; Robocop; Silence of the Lambs; Bill and Ted. That lion logo is part of my upbringing, my childhood. I’m excited for it to go out into the world. We made this film for audiences to enjoy. There’s nothing else. I never made it for me. It costs so much money to go to the cinema. Going out to the cinema is a big deal. When we grow up we didn’t have much money so going out to the cinema, back then, was a real treat, a special occasion. So, when people go out to the cinema I want them to enjoy themselves. For an hour and a half in the world, you’re distracted. You forget about your mortgage, you don’t have to worry about problems at work, problems at home. For an hour and a half in your life, please enjoy yourself.
AG: Do you feel that this could open a lot of doors for you?
JM: It already has. Now I have two agents (one in Europe and one in L.A.). I get scripts sent to me from Lionsgate, from MGM. This is the dream coming true. This film as open up so many doors, not just for me, but also for all my producers, for my writer, for my composers, my actors. This film has done so much for all of us. It was something that we cared about, that we loved. We put so much care and love into it. It feels like that karma is coming back to us.
AG: So, what’s next in life for you?
JM: I don’t know. I used to work for the football as a video technician and filming games and the manager of the team used to say to the boys: “You’re only as good as your last game.” I’m only as good as my last film. My next film has to surpass “Ana and the Apocalypse”. It has to be bigger. It has to be better. So I will take my time and once I find the right script. I’ll make that.
AG: And will your next project be in line with Horror?
JM: Not especially. It could be a Romantic Comedy that comes along and that’s funny and has a heart and character to it or a Horror that has character and heart to it. I’m in for that.
AG: How does Scotland see Portugal?
JM: We see Benfica, Sporting, Lisbon, and the Portuguese chicken [o Galo de Barcelos].
AG: How do you view Brexit and the fact that Scotland would like to leave the UK?
JM: This is hard because it is politics. I voted to stay in Europe. I’m Scottish and I’m European. I don’t want to leave. It’s not my decision. I hope that people will change their mind or something.
AG: What’s your opinion about the refugee situation in Europe?
JM: I’m a believer in a free movement for all the people in the world. It doesn’t matter where you’re from. Do you genuinely think that people want to flee their homes? Do you think that people want to leave their work and the home where they grew up in, the house that they’ve built, and go somewhere else, a place they don’t know, with a different language and without amenities? A place where they’re looked down upon( and the fear and the loss)? Nobody wants that. Any refugee crisis is not to be taken lightly. It’s a horrible thing.
AG: So basically you’re against walls...
JM: Yes, I’m against walls and borders.
AG: Would you consider making an LGBT+ film in the future?
JM: Of course. Has I said before, it all has to do with the characters.
The more common this becomes, the more this becomes part of life. Then we write about what we know. When these things become more common, they’ll be more written about. There’ll be more stories because that’s part of the world.
Like when you don’t understand it, you can’t write about it and the more educated we become, the more will these stories come out.
AG: Considering that my blog “Adolescente Gay” is addressed to the gay community, what message would you like to give to Portuguese readers?
JM: Be who you want to be. Do what you want to do. You get one chance in life. Love your life the best you can and dream big!
Caso queiram falar comigo, também estou sempre disponível.
E-mail - firstname.lastname@example.org
Trailer de "Anna and the Apocalypse", de John McPhail, 2017.
Beijinhos e portem-se mal!! ;)