Oh, hello there, peasants. In case you haven't noticed, Manuscripts Burn has become bit of a destination blog lately. I've been having to fend off all kinds of requests for interviews from Hollywood-types, most of whom I am now on a nickname basis with. Robert de Niro, for instance, is now simply "Bobby" to me, and Martin Scorsese, naturally, is just "Ol' Mr. Brownpants." But as for the rest of you, here, have another high-profile interview. It's not like I'm running out of them.
About Simon Pearce:
Simon first began making short films when he was just 13, when he met friend and colleague Chris Marshfield, with whom he has collaborated closely ever since. Their first short ‘I’, went on to be broadcast on BBC 2 in November 2004 as part of the BBC Blast Young Film-maker’s challenge.
He took a Media Studies ‘A’ level course at Wellsway Sixth Form college in Keynsham, Bristol, whilst simultaneously receiving training at the ITV Production Skills workshop, held at the ITV West studios in Bristol. Tutored by local short film director Paul Dudbridge, this course included training on camera work, editing, lighting and sound. He also attended several short film-making workshops in Bath, run by Suited and Booted Studios.
By the time he left college in 2005, he decided to go straight into work and began taking jobs wherever he could, in order to advance his skills as well as gain valuable experience and contacts in the industry. This included work as a runner, camera assistant and video assistant, where he worked on a series of digital shorts for South West Screen, and went on to amass credits on productions such as 2006’s “Casino Royale”, and the first season of the BBC drama series “Lark Rise to Candleford.”
Eventually, he began to get work as an operator and finally an editor, as which he now works freelance. Outside of this, he continued to make his own short films, before, in early 2008, he was approached to direct his first feature length drama “Shank.”
SK: Thanks for being with us today, Simon! My first question is why are you an independent filmmaker? Is the studio system something you're trying to break into or would you chose to remain an indie regardless?
SP: Thanks for having me! I don't know if I've ever truly considered myself an independent film-maker, I mean certainly I am right now - but the thing I've only ever wanted to be is a film-maker, full stop. I guess the independent part at the moment is borne more of necessity! I definitely grew up on studio movies, and if I'm going to the cinema it is just as likely to be to see the latest "Fast & Furious" as it is to see an indie film! I try to watch a range, but I'd be lying if I didn't say my tastes weren't more mainstream. So yes, I would happily work in the studio system - at the end of the day if I can make a living directing full-time though that's all I want, however that comes about. Whatever project it is at that time that ignites my passion, and however it is best that that project gets made....
SK: So I understand you started working in film at the age of 13. What was the situation regarding that? Was this for a school project or just in your backyard or were you apprenticing for serious filmmaking?
SP: This was basically just in my back-yard. I picked up the family video camera probably even earlier than that actually, simply out of boredom, and made up a film on the spot with my friend. Straight away I knew this was something I was into so it became a regular thing - myself and a group of friends would get together and make something (often which involved us all pretending to beat and kill each other in various ways!) Then, as soon as I was able, I was looking to get involved in more serious shoots - I would enlist in summer schools, film competitions, volunteer on shoots as runner, and gradually the shorts I made alongside this became more serious, too, or more professional rather! When I left school at 18, I went straight into work in whatever capacity I could in the industry, and slowly worked my way up to where I am now.
SK: For our readers who may not be aware, Stephen King has placed all of his unoptioned short stories up for option to enterprising filmmakers such as yourself for a dollar under his Dollar Babies Program. With all of King's work that was available to you what made you choose to adapt "I am the Doorway" in particular?
SP: That was actually Jeffrey's choice. He contacted me having already acquired the rights to "Doorway" and I must admit I didn't know the story. I went straight out and bought NIGHT SHIFT though to read it, and I really liked it. Straight away it felt quite different to horrors I'd seen before, there was a lot of visual scope, and the way Jeffrey, Richard & Wendy have interpreted it for their script is really interesting. It's quite true to King's version, but they've also added some of their own themes and really expanded on some subtler layers to the story. Crucially for me too, it was a huge tonal shift from my first horror, which was the feature "Judas Ghost" - that gave me a taste for the genre, but I wanted my next one to feel very different. This certainly is that!
SK: Is the Chicken of Bristol really as vicious as Sir Robin has led us to believe?
SP: I must confess I wasn't familiar with that and just had to google it! Haha, you've taught me something there. I shall watch my back walking the streets at night.
SK: Well, thanks for being with us and I wish you the best of luck with "I am the Doorway." Do you have any parting thoughts for our readers?
Just that it would be great if they could take the time to look at our crowd-fund page and see what we've put together so far - I know a lot of these dollar babies get made, not to mention crowd-funds for movie projects in general, but I genuinely believe we have something special here. So, if you're a fan of King or even just horror and film in general, do take the time to watch the campaign video and help us if you can! Even a share goes a long way.
Thanks again Stephen, we appreciate it!