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An Interview with Kris McManus, Director of Dead in France

by Mike Haberfelner

March 2013

Films directed by Kris McManus on (re)Search my Trash

 

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Your movie Dead in France - in a few words, what is it about?

 

Dead in France is about a retiring hitman (aren't all movies?) with massive social issues trying to find a perfect partner to sail around the world with while avoiding various, unsociable criminal types who all want a piece of him.

 

What were your initial inspirations when writing Dead in France?

 

I just liked the idea of a "Brits behaving badly"-movie where even the filmmakers themselves just trample on another countries' traditions - in this case French Cinema. Not to be mean but to take the piss out of ourselves a little.

 


You wrote the script together with your star Brian A. Levine. So what can you tell us about the writing process, and your collaboration with Mr Levine, both as writer and actor, and how did the two of you initially hook up?

 

Brian and I met in Cannes and he helped me complete my first feature - a no-budget survival thriller set in the South of England. He asked If I'd like to develop Dead in France with him and before we knew it we were shooting. Brian laid down a first draft based on his original idea then we pulled it about a bit together - taking it in turns to add more childish and ludicrous jokes as we went, just bouncing it back and forth.

 

Of all the, ummm ... slightly eccentric characters in your movie, who can you identify with the most?

 

Brian A. Levine as Charles

Oh wow I'm not sure, if I'm being negative then - probably Charles - just because everyone wants to take from him, or at least that's how it seems. Being more positive I'd say Simon - he wants to look out for his mates, have fun and make a few quid doing it. None of them really thou - they are all horrorshows, aren't they? Ha.

 

How did you approach your story from a directorial point of view, and why did you decide to shoot in black and white?

 

I'd always wanted to shoot a black and white film - because we were ripping on a very comedic, British take on French Cinema it just made sense to do it here - I also shot the film, edited and did the VFX so as a Director I was spread pretty thin. I trusted my actors I guess and developed the characters with the actors ahead of time as much as possible.

 

How would you describe Dead in France's brand of humour, and do you consider yourself a humourous man privately?

 

It's kind of an adult Carry On-film in one sense - it's very crude, quiet dark at times - there's an element of slapstick.

 

People tell me I'm funny - I don't know if they are right but I try to be funny - I've just been shooting in South Africa and one of the actors said I should do stand-up - I don't think I'd have the balls for that but a nice comment.

 

Also, Dead in France does feature quite a bit of violence. So what can you tell us about that aspect of your film?

 

Violence can be funny' - there's a quote! What I mean is Tom and Jerry were fucking horrible to each other but it wasn't to be taken seriously. Neither is Dead in France - The violence is pretty comic and not going for realism but more for slapstick. It may blur the line at times and that may be one of the few challenging things about the movie.

 

Do talk about your key cast for a bit if you can, and why exactly these people?

 

Darren Bransford, Celia Muir

Darren Bransford who played Denny and Celia Muir who played Lisa put in an incredible amount of work developing their characters and had some of the toughest scenes - something that was recognised by the LA Film Festival of Hollywood last year when they both received supporting actor awards, which was really cool - was great to see the US audience embracing the film. But everyone who was involved put in the time - I was very lucky to have such good people around me. We cast people we thought would be right for the movie - some were professional actors and some quiet new to acting.

 

Your movie was filmed in (and the title might suggest it already) France - why, and what are the advantages and also challenges of filming in a foreign country?

 

It was great shooting in France - the people were great, the locations awesome - was a bit hot at times but there genuinely weren't any big differences from shooting at home and it helps that producer Brian Levine who also plays Charles speaks fluent french.

 

What can you tell us about audience and critical reception of your movie?

 

So far it has been really well-received - we've had some really cool reviews from all over. Comedy is very subjective and it's hard to please everyone - some people expect something smarter - some don't get it at all, but in general I think the film offers omething fun for most viewers - it is fairly broad - just a little naughty at times.

 

Any future projects you'd like to share?

 

I'm developing my next feature at the moment - a Survival Action movie called RAW based on a Private Military Induction weekend that goes haywire. Hope to be shooting in the UK, Russia, Poland and St Helena at the end of the summer. It's The Hunger Games on Steroids.

 

Let's go back to the beginnings of your career: What got you into filmmaking in the first place, and how did you learn your trade?

 

I was just hooked on Van Damme movies and Dolph Lundgren, Bruce Lee...  I started making fucking terrible kung-fu movies with my friends when I was 13 - I wanted to act - be an action star - and the fatter and older I got the more I stayed behind the camera until I started learning how to use the bloody thing (Took a while - still going). I'm self-taught - so just years of trying to learn from mistakes - that never ends but it's fun trying.

 


What can you tell us about your filmwork prior to Dead in France?

 

Aside from shit ninja movies as a kid my first feature was a thriller called Travellers which I shot in the South of England for no money but have managed to get distributed in I think seven major territories so far. It was really a bit of an experiment to see if we could get into a feature film and out the other side in one piece.

 

How would you describe yourself as a director?

 

I'm still working that out - I guess hands-on and enthusiastic. I enjoy problem solving.

 

Filmmakers who inspire you?

 

I like Scorsese, Michael Mann and David Fincher. Big Ridley Scott fan but I love all films really - sorry that was a really boring answer.

 

Your favourite movies?

 

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I'll tell you one movie I love and that's Stand By Me, but again there is so many I could list - Apocalypse Now gets a regular viewing but then so does Flash Gordon, so I can't be trusted to answer that question.

 

... and of course, films you really deplore?

 

Have stopped hating films - it's so fucking tough to get one made I have a huge tolerance and respect now. And even bad movies are great - I love really shlock old grindhouse stuff... OK there is one in recent years that I think is so overrated and infuriates me when I see it or hear people rave about it, but I'm not going to say it here as it will start a riot! I'm also aware my opinion on it is totally wrong as it made fucking millions! Ha.

 

Your/your movie's website, Facebook, whatever else?

 

You can check out upcoming projects at www.inroadmedia.co.uk.

 

Anything else you are dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?

 

Nope all good - hope that's the kinda thing you were after. Thanks!

 

Thanks for the interview!

 

© by Mike Haberfelner


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Thanks for watching !!!



 

 

On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD

 

 

Stell Dir vor, Deine Lieblingsseifenoper birgt eine tiefere Wahrheit ...
... und stell Dir vor, der Penner von der U-Bahnstation hat doch recht ...
... und dann triffst Du auch noch die Frau Deiner (feuchten) Träume ...

 

Und an diesem Tag geht natürlich wieder einmal die Welt unter!!!

 

Bauliche Angelegenheiten
ein Roman von
Michael Haberfelner

 

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