Your film Itawari
- in a few words, what is it about?
about the development of a relationship between a security guard looking
after an abandoned hospital and a homeless girl who he finds living there.
Mark Charles Adams
Charles Adams: All
told in parallel with a story a year later on the day the building is
finally demolished, it’s sort of about the human condition and how we go
about our daily lives, what we do in and want from life.
The film looks back over key events in the seasons leading to this
important final day.
As the then chases the now, we learn what happened with these
two and what has brought him back to the place he once worked on its last
What were your main
sources of inspiration for Itawari?
were quite conscious that we didn't want to make anything too painfully
‘indie film’, or anything trying to be American in style or for that
matter anything too, I don't know, British? We wanted to try something a
bit different, less obvious. We both loved the recent cycles of great
films out of Korea and I've always liked older Japan cinema. That
fractured narrative style, the fact that you maybe had to work at them a
bit more? We wanted to draw on things like that, creating something a bit
more original in form and grammar, but with nods to the best of our
national filmic tradition that often seems to have been forgotten, so
things like A Matter of Life and
Death or Brief Encounter are
in there as well.
film has quite a lot to say about loneliness, companionship, friendship,
even love. Your personal thoughts about all of this?
Wow, err… Adam is a happily married man and I am terminally single, so
I'll let him take this one for now…
Okay! I think the thing to say, and hopefully what the film does say, is
that there is no easy answer. There’s
no rulebook, it’s all about you and your world.
If you’re happy taking solace in someone, do it.
If you’re happy being alone, that’s fine.
It’s all about what makes everyone happy.
I think the film tries to comment on the pressures of the world in
that respect too. There’s a
social norm that people adhere to and often aspire to.
I don’t think that’s right.
Whatever works for you, do it and be happy.
Unless it involves hurting other people, obviously!
MCA: I think there’s something else to this as
well, I think you have to factor in guilt, and how we can often punish
ourselves for our own failures and how that can be tied up in all the
things you’ve mentioned and how you might break free of that.
very basic question: What does the title mean?
It’s a Japanese word, basically meaning ‘sympathy’, but with a bunch
of other translations that all fitted our themes, it was originally a
working title as we cracked the story of the film, but we sort of fell in
love with it and it started to seem wrong to change it.
AG: It was just great that when we looked up
sympathy, all these other meanings were tied in and around it too.
you tell us about your main location, the abandoned hospital, and to what
extent did it dictate the movie's story?
We knew the kind of story we wanted to tell by the time we scouted the
hospital, but we had to see what we had to work with in the building to
craft the specifics.
set up a nice creative model, where we wrote the story formed by the
environment. We saw the
building in January (dead pigeons and all) and started filming in April.
I wouldn’t use the word dictate, but the hospital was the third
writer (we’re not changing the credits though).
You can’t see some of those spectacular images and not include
them. I think it would be the
obvious choice to say abandoned hospital equals crazy zombie horror film,
but there was an ambience of sadness and nostalgic reluctance about the
place which made the story we were planning seem all the more fitting.
Your film was
shot on a very low budget. Would you have done anything differently with
think there is so much value (no pun intended) to doing it the way we did.
The film is subtle and thoughtful, a small yet important
relationship in a building that’s seen millions.
Somehow, throwing money at it would almost detract from the
message. Without getting on a
lectern and preaching, money can get in the way of story.
You shouldn’t need more than a camera, two people and a script to
tell a story about a relationship. Oh…
and low budget explosions help (laughs).
I think looking back now, there are more things I learned from the way we
did do it than if we’d have had a lot of money, we were better off with
little or no money in the end, I think it made us better, more inventive.
I should say we’re not averse to people giving us more money if they’d
True, I do like money.
For the most part, Itawari
is just a one-actor film (at least until Hannah Cork finally shows up).
How big was the crew on the other side of the camera, and how intimate was
the atmosphere on set?
Pretty intimate really, a lot of the time it was literally Adam and myself
shooting. We had a bit of a routine where we met for breakfast and talked
over the day before shooting. I think it was a pretty unique way to make a
very enjoyable way as it happened. Obviously,
being close friends is a big help, otherwise you can imagine it could be
fairly intense. We did have
odd moments of assistance from Hannah and Gerard in things like setting up
lighting on occasion, but otherwise it was just the two of us.
I’m not sure we ever had a full day with other people there, it was
always part days where they’d come in and we’d do what was planned.
AG: It makes me wonder if we had some form of cabin
fever without realising? We
should have asked if we were coming across crazy (laughs).
Charles, how would you describe
your directorial effort?
I’d say it’s a good start, but now I have to do more, try harder, do
better, never stop fighting to achieve more from the work. It was a great
learning experience and a chance to find myself as a filmmaker again
inside this fabulous place. As a finished film I couldn’t be happier
with it, I managed to capture the building as a character in the piece
like I wanted. As an editor I managed to get the tone and pace I wanted
without over staying our welcome with the audience. I have to thank my
collaborators though, I did a lot but I couldn’t have done it without
Gina’s songs or Paul’s music, without even starting on the cast and of
course my co-Writer, Producer and Star here…
Adam, what did you draw upon to
get your character right?
I have to confess to feeling a little out of sorts talking about
it. I don’t consider myself
a great actor, but you’d be surprised how many people are reluctant to
work a week for only food and smiles.
Personally, I feel that acting something you’ve written is a huge
help. I knew where the
character had come from, and felt I knew what he was thinking at any given
time. I believe that if you
want to act well, you have to be thinking the way that character thinks.
Good actors can probably turn it on and off, but I tended to take a
few minutes to think about what was happening and how he would feel about
it. If you’re doing that
whilst in the environment of the story, you can’t help but come out
better reflecting what’s happening on the page.
What can you tell us about
Hannah Cork, the female lead of the film?
MCA: She’d done plays before I
really knew her and we were at school together, but I didn’t really get
to know her until after all that, which is odd really, as we knew a lot of
the same people. We were good friends at the time and we’d worked on a
few shorts together, asking her to be in the film was an easy decision,
though acting was never a first love to her, she is really rather good and
can play a real range from vulnerable to strong-willed. I don’t see her
these days as she is off training to be a Chiropractor, but I doubt she is
done with film forever, she’s too good not to be in something again.
A few words
about scene-stealing Gerald P.Howells?
He's amazing isn't he? I was working a day job with him at the time we
were shooting and we became good friends, when we decided we had to do
this on a shoe string I thought he should be someone we brought in and be
a night guard and I'd maybe ham it up for the other, as it goes along I
just stopped including myself in the scenes as he just carried them so
well. I am amazed by how good he is, I think we'd have written more scenes
for him if we'd had time, maybe included them actually playing football,
can you imagine?
Having seen you pair kicking the thing, I can’t imagine it no (laughs)…
Gerard is a genuinely likeable and good guy. I met him through Mark,
mainly at cinema outings. He shares our taste and sense of humour, and was
extremely easy to talk to.
MCA: He’s left the country now sadly, he’s in the
US studying, but from what I hear he has joined a little improv troupe
thing, so he’s doing stuff, can only be a matter of time before he ends
up in a film for someone else… Actually
I should get him in Craig’s next film!
The 64 Dollar
question of course: When will the film be out?
We've got it submitted for some festivals at the moment, if we get lucky
we'll screen at some of those, after that I am not sure exactly, I have
pondered doing a small cinema run out of my own pocket, then I suppose we
have to look at the internet, that’s where everything is heading right
now, but this film has a natural home in an art house or something similar
rather than You Tube, so we’ll see what we can do to get it in front of
people in those environments first.
the present behind for the time being: How did you first meet back in the
day, and how did you become collaborators on quite a few film projects to
memory of how we first met? I remember the slight unpleasantness and then
when we first became friends but what do you remember?
It was odd really. Mark was a contact for some of my friends at
University, basically a student who drinks, has fun and shows
‘freshers’ a good time in their first week. He was good friends with
those guys for most of that year, but we never really spoke much.
I think we were told we didn’t like each other, which didn’t
So I never showed you a good time? HA! Yeah, that was odd, people seemed
to be spreading rumours and so we never really bothered with each other
for the longest time, then we worked together for a bit before everyone
went their separate ways after uni ended. Years later I asked Adam to come
and Produce for me on a short I was worried about and that sort of kick
started what would become Sat
That was really vital for me. After uni I had my video camera sat
gathering dust, and going back to it with Mark brought my passion back. I
think that’s why we work together; Mark makes me want to make films.
MCA: And I've always called him ‘The Great
Enabler’ without him coming onto that short in 2005 I doubt I'd ever
have made the move to features, I was burnt out. Inside a year we'd shot
half of Following, taken a short
to Cannes and gotten started on Itawari,
it was like a fresh start really.
What can you tell us about your first (abandoned)
was pretty ambitious as a first movie, I think we have about 70% of it, it
was a high action thriller/mystery set deep in a forest, we literally just
ran out of summer to film it. Then the next year we all had various
mishaps or accidents and couldn't come back to finish filming it.
I broke my finger in several places, and Simon, one of the main actors,
had to undergo shoulder surgery.
Then I broke my foot in July. It just sort of ended up feeling
doomed. I might find a way to finish what we have one day or maybe we’ll
start over on it. The truth of it was probably the best learning
experience you could ever have though, but for now it’s probably best as
a lost gem.
Definitely. When you hear people saying ‘get out there and do it’,
listen to them. Don’t think
you’ve got to make El Mariachi or The Blair Witch, just be happy putting the hours in and learning
And don’t worry if it doesn’t get finished, you're learning.
As long as your cast/crew are all friends with you!
MCA: Good point!
A few words about the creation
of your production company, Satori
literally just started stabbing at a dictionary for the name, and we got
lucky. We needed to pick a name as we'd already made Cookbook
and half of Following and we
just thought if we are going to carry on and do a second feature (that
would become Itawari) we needed
to give this thing a name. The whole sudden enlightenment had resonance
with both of us, so we used it.
In another world, the heavens would have opened up and an angel, riding on
the back of a unicorn, would have given us the name on a platter of woven
dodo hair. But no, we picked
it out of a dictionary. But with an equally important revelatory feeling I
might add. I think the whole
creation of Satori itself was
testament to the fact that we felt we could do it ourselves, and wanted to
capture that somehow.
MCA: Yeah, seems weird to me now that we didn’t
give it a name until so late on in a lot of ways, wonder if that was a
confidence thing or something, fear we couldn’t do it?
Either way the name ended up fitting how we felt perfectly.
As far as I know, your first cinematic
collaboration is called The Perfect Cookbook under the Satori-banner.
A few words about that one?
was a short, we made it after the first summer on Following,
we made it intentionally to take out to Cannes, we made it very French New
Wave, which was probably a mistake looking back as it was all foreigners
And surprisingly few film lovers it seemed.
It was a dark comedy, about how pushing for perfection can
ultimately lead to destruction.
Could almost be a lesson in low budget filmmaking.
AG: No further comment! (laughs)
Other films you have worked
on (both together and individually) you want to talk about?
Years a go we did some bits I found recently, some half finished shorts, Getting
Home was one, you remember that? Silent drunk man comedy?
Yeah, that was fun. We really
did go for the idea of making stuff for the enjoyment of it.
I seem to remember having to hold the camera for you, some of my
first behind camera work!
Yeah, for some reason I was the star (laughs), I might finish it when I
get time, make it a YouTube thing, its pretty funny. We worked on a bunch
of other stuff together that never really saw the light of day.
Well… Sir is working on a pretty big ‘project’
Big in terms of my own expectations of being able to do it quickly and
cheaply, but as a potentially more mainstream budget film!
Without saying much, imagine being made to confess to something,
without ever really knowing what it is.
I wasn’t talking about a film there sir, hint hint…
Oh yes, I’m having my first baby in August! Err… oops, well reminded
sir. Obviously there’s the
real baby, the most important thing in the known universe, and the
script-baby that is less important. I
do write some scripts that I look to send on (with little success thus
far) and Mark works with a few other people too.
MCA: Yeah, I’m currently working with Craig McIntyre [Craig
McIntyre interview - click here] on his second feature (The Los
Angeles Ripper) and I am editing on some other stuff, am working on
bigger plans for a next film, but I’m not there with them yet.
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
Filmmakers who inspire you?
I think we both kind of look up to anyone who just went out there and just
started making films, didn’t wait for anyone to tell them they could or
give them the money, that was certainly the type of thing that inspired me
and made me realise I could do this, so that’d be guys like Linklater
and Rodriguez, Sam Raimi on Evil Dead was kind of the first I suppose.
I have a love for people like Sergio Leone and Park Chan-wook.
On the surface, they’re vastly different, but it’s the
storytelling, the bravery to let your camera talk for you that I admire.
Both of these guys were making films both ahead and of their time, and
their portfolio of work is consistently strong.
Yeah, I'd agree on those two, right now I guess Fincher and Guillermo Del
Toro have few equals, I'll still see anything Spike Lee or Soderbergh make
too. Rian Johnson is certainly on the verge of being something great I
think and Gasper Noe could go anywhere after his last one, that'll be
interesting to watch. On Itawari specifically I was going to a lot of older Japanese stuff,
Kaneto Shindo was a big influence on what I was trying to do with it. Kim
Ki-duk was a more modern reference point, I suppose. Visually I always
seem to riffing on Owen Roizman, so I suppose I need to name check him,
wow, forgot all this stuff earlier... Anyone else we’ve forgotten
specific to the film?
Takeshi Kitano possibly? That
thoughtful, patient style? I suppose it is more Kim Ki-Duk though.
MCA: Yeah, I always felt we ripped 'Beat' off more on Following. (laughs)
I can answer this one! The
Good, The Bad and The Ugly is the winner for me.
It’s epic, engaging and a brilliantly told story.
More recently, I loved Brick and Zatoichi, again as films with their own story to tell in their own
MCA: I don’t watch films… (laughs)
... and of course, films you have
Ask me five years ago and I could list a load of stuff, now I’m either
mellowing or I just have a lot more respect for what it takes to get a
film made because some of the stuff I would have hated I can usually find
something to like in now… somebody remind me of some things I have
hated, get me worked up, then I can probably bring the hate… (laughs)
I’ve seen it, and it’s a thing to behold! It’s always personal. There’s a lot of rubbish out there
that’s not worth your time, but it’s not worth the effort of hating. I
think I only hate things that I’m personally connected to, or stories
that are so illogically written they infuriate me.
A good example capturing both would be AVP.
I love the graphic novels, especially Prey and Hunters Planet,
and saw massive potential for a film.
Personally, I felt it fell a ridiculously long way short in the
end, delivering nothing I wanted and in an often unbelievable way.
In the same way I have Batman
issues I suppose, any version…
Surely not the masterpiece that is Batman
& Robin?! (laughs)
(faux Schwarzennegger) "FREEZE EVERYBODY!" a true classic…
don't get me started... sorry Mike.
I really like Nolan’s Batman
films, but I know how much Mark has always loved Batman.
If people get an idea formed of what something should be, and it's
not, they can get angry!
I think that’s it, it's more about wasted opportunity for us, like half
the horror remakes that happen now, they're just a wasted opportunity,
feels like they'll all be rebooted again inside ten years. Also, I’d be
pretty happy if Bill Murray never reads that Ghostbusters 3 script.
Your website, Facebook, whatever else?
We’ve got a Facebook page for the film that’s kind of becoming the
official website, we’re on Twitter, I need to get the satoripictures.com
back up at some point. I’ll try and get all the addresses to include in
else you are dying to mention and I've merely forgotten to ask?
to say thanks to people like yourself, and to ask your readers to keep on
reading. The internet is a
wonderful thing, even when not viewing adult material, it has the
potential to be the launch pad for films that are made for love, not
money. That’s something you rarely get in the cinema.
for the interview!
Thank you Mike!