Your latest movie is No Right Turn, an independent feature
produced in Denmark. Could you tell us in a few sentences what it's about?
David Noel Bourke directing
Sure, the main story centers around a character called Monella who
has just lost her mother by a freak accident. One night she becomes a
reluctant hero and saves a gorgeous girl from two delinquents. They
become very close friends, but the girl Nina has many issues of her own
especially being tied up with her rock'n'roll dreamer husband Johnny and
a sleazy writer Teddy. Nina wants Monella to help her take a
hidden stash of money and make a clean break before Johnny invests it in
a silly scheme. Monella agrees but getting involved gives more trouble
and surpises than she could ever imagine and all the characters come
together in what's a crazy twisted finale.
What can you tell us about making
the film as such?
The movie was shot in Copenhagen Feb this year, a grueling 5 week
shoot it was, we used a small but dedicated 20 man crew. It's the most
ambitious project I have ever done yet, a huge step forward from my
previous feature Last Exit. Since the movie is set in an mythical almost
comic book-like universe, for the city scenes we manufactured special
neon light setups to give us the surreal visuals we wanted for the
characters and their particular locations. The Monella character lives
on the outskirts of the city near the ocean, we shot her scenes mainly
in freezing snow, so the cinematography is bleached white for her
scenes. We spent a long time, getting all the locations, props, costumes
right, it was an extremely demanding shoot.
How would you
describe your directorial approach to that picture?
Firstly, my mission statement was that we needed to make the best
independent movie possible within our means and try to keep any
compromises down, this is not always possible of course, but we really
pushed for an huge effort in all departments.
When you make an indie
movie, you are up against it so we really aimed for something special
with this one. Focus was given on a unique retro look & style. Several weeks before production, I sat down with my cinematographer,
production designer and assistant director and discussed in detail the
script, its mood, tone and the style overall . Once we agreed on that,
we spent some time on preparing a shooting script , visual storylines,
character descriptions and motivations etc taking into mind of course
the budget we had. Once the actors came on board, I could show them what
we planned out and then openly discuss their characters in this
particular universe, and what they thought was interesting and needed
development - so I basically kept an openly creative forum for everyone,
and I think this approach suits a project like this.
You also have a website, dealing - among other things - with No Right Turn. What is the URL, and what can people expect?
For general info, you can always
Currently it contains a few stills and news on our present project No Right Turn. Also you will find all the info you need on our previous feature
film Last Exit. There is also some stuff about who we are etc, nothing
too fancy and we try to keep it up to date when possible.
You are of Irish descent, and you have also studied Drama & Acting in
Australia, yet now you live in Denmark. Why that, and how easy/difficult
is it to make an independent film there?
Yes, I was born in Ireland, but don't hold that against me :-)
After dropping out of art college in Ireland, I felt I needed a fresh
break, to get away from my routine there. I was writing screenplays but
also doing a little acting. I applied for this Drama & Acting school
in Australia and got in, so hopped on a plane and went to Sydney. That's
where I met my producer wife Catrina (she's Danish - the connection!),
and we decided to move back to Denmark and setup our own little
production company. Back in 2001, nobody in Denmark was making
indie movies, and the DFI (Danish Film Institute) are extremely tight
about giving out any funds, they publicly portray themselves as very
open-minded to individual projects, but from I have experienced so far
and many other Danish filmmakers would agree they are very safety
net oriented and not willing to go to places where they feel is
different and challenging. But you need to make your movies no matter
what it takes and Copenhagen is a very multicultural city, many
different nationalities live here, so it was relatively easy to
get a cast for Last Exit. For No Right Turn, with the help of a budget
and a good script, it was straight forward too but we had to work hard
to find the right people, no doubt about it making movies is long hard
slog at the best of times!
How hard is it to get a decent cast for an indie film in Denmark? At
least for No Right Turn
you were able to hire some name
actors, as I understand.
As mentioned before, if you have a strong interesting script, I don't
think it's a problem attracting a good cast. The problem is always
your budget and its limitations. For No Right Turn, we had time,
so we spent 6 months casting, that's a lot for an indie movie, we saw actors
form Denmark, Finland, Sweden, Norway, France, Bulgaria, England, and
some came over from LA!
Our material this time around was really our
ace card to attract good actors to the project. So after the long
casting sessions, I was absolutely delighted with the cast we chose, Laura
Bach, Sira Stampe, Tao Hildebrandt, Lars Lippert all have a couple of
decent features behind them, Sira acted opposite Kate Winslet in
Hideous Kinky, Laura Bach has a movie out in theatres currently and
another one on the way, so overall I am very pleased.
director, No Right Turn
is not your first film, your debut was, as
far as I know, Last Exit. Could you tell us a bit about that one?
Last Exit was produced in 2002,
which seems like a very long time ago now!
For this movie I had empty pockets, literally no money whatsoever, but
had access to a camera and a editing suite, so we put a cast together very
quickly and shot the movie in two weeks without any crew
- it was documentary style really. We did a lot of work in post though,
with music, effects etc. The movie itself is a dark tale of one
man's downfall when he moves from London to Copenhagen, it's my love
letter to all the b-movies I watched growing up, it contains a bit of sex,
violence, drugs with comedy and horror mixed in - all surrounded by
touches of philosophy. The basic storyline is standard enough, but we
made sure the execution was a little weird!
As I understand, Last Exit got quite a bit of international acclaim
and even regular distribution in several countries ...
You know for a tiny movie made for nothing, its response has been
really great. I mean, it got a lot of really great reviews, but of
course a few not so good ones too, but you cannot please everyone and
that's ok. When we made the movie none of us thought we could do
anything with it, it was like, let's make this movie as a taste of what
can be done and then let's make a real movie! So when it got out there,
that the reaction was generally positive was nice, I was pleasantly
surprised it got picked up for distribution in Europe and also in the
US. Actually in the US the DVD made a profit for our distributor (Heretic
Films) in the first month of its release! So that's always nice
to know that your movies can make money. Not that I'm rich now or
anything, money is always an issue, but this helped in the development
of our second project, now we can have a bigger budget and much better
production values for No Right Turn.
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Before embarking on film directing, you spent years as a scriptwriter.
What can you tell us about some of the films you wrote?
I wrote some really whacky scripts for sure, without going into
details, very surrealistic dramas . One day maybe I will go back to
them, but I tend to cringe when I read my old stuff now, because of
course you believe your latest stuff is what's the best!
How much has your experience in writing influenced your work as a
director, or has your directing experience rather influenced your writing?
Great question! My scripts tend to be sometimes wordy, dialogue-driven, I love dialogue-driven movies in general especially when done
right. Recently after directing a few projects, I now try to reduce the
words because there is one side of me that says sometimes less words is
better, if you can compose a beautiful visual instead, but it's
all a balance and you develop and grow in different ways the more movies
you produce. I'm always learning and developing!
Who do you think are your
biggest influences as a director?
Lynch, Cronenberg, Scorcese, Solondz,
the Coens, Noe, De Palma, Stone,
Raimi, I'm also a big Miike fan.
What do you think of the current state of the film industry and of
independent filmmaking, and what were some recent films you really liked?
To be honest when you are a filmmaker, you kind of get tied up in
making you own projects, so with most of my time is taken up with making
movies and being with my family, I really wish I had more time to keep
updated on the indepenedent scene. But I know generally it's very
hard to get independent movies out into theaters, but the good news is
that the DVD market has unleashed a wave of new and old movies that
otherwise would never be available. Indie movies like Wolf
Creek, Undead, Primer etc are decent enough indie movies, it's always nice to
see they are releasing this type of movies theatrically too.
... and some you really despised?
You know, I try to see positives in any movie, especially independent
movies because I know how really difficult it is to make them! Those
movies I mentioned already have their flaws for sure but at least they
are getting released and are available and that's a good thing for us
Your all-time favourites?
Barton Fink, Straw Dogs,
One Flew over
the Cuckoos Nest, Waking Life, After Hours, Wild at Heart, to name just a
Anything else I forgot to asked or you are just dying to mention?
Yeah, well thanks for all those who supported
Last Exit, very
grateful for all those open-minded folks who one way or another
helped it get out there. Thanks for the superb cast and crew of our
latest movie, No Right Turn, appreciate all their hard work to make it an
ambitious movie in scope, style and production, - very much
looking forward to unleashing it to the public!
And basically thanks
everyone for listening.
you for the interview, and good luck with your film.