With My Brothers getting great responses since its trip to Tribeca, AMANDA SPENCER talks to Paul Fraser about his feature directorial debut.
Fraser’s first big screen collaboration, 24/7saw a lifelong friendship and creative collaboration with Shane Meadows reach a wider audience. Since then, continued collaborations show the writer/director display a love of, and contribution to, cinema that is character-led, choice-driven and hinged on small scale adventures that are still somehow epic.
Fraser deals in heart. His writing credits include, A Room for Romeo Brass, Somers Town, Dead Man’s Shoes Once Upon a Time in the Midlands and Damien O’Donnell’s Heartlands. Films that get right into their characters, characters whose lives are lived in unspectacular surrounds, with few outlets. The themes are rich and universal and Fraser’s tales travel. This time around, and for his feature directorial debut, they’ve come to Ireland.
My Brothers is a road trip embarked on by three brothers to replace their ailing father’s treasured broken watch. Filmed in Cork last November/December, it was penned by young Irish writer, Will Collins. Fraser loves to write. For that reason, he had always assumed his first feature would be self-penned. However, in meeting Will, he found a script that fitted his style, a young writer he wanted to champion and a feature he wanted to direct.
AMANDA SPENCER: How did things go in Tribeca?
Paul Fraser: Well, we premiered in Tribeca. We finished the film the week before and with the volcanic ash in the mix, Rebecca O’Flanagan and Rob Walpole, the producers, had to go the scenic route to NY to deliver the film. We got some good reviews and great feedback. Yeah, it went down really well and we all eventually got out there, so that was great. It’ll go on a journey of its own now, around to different festivals. I’d love to see it released around autumn.
What started you on the road to writing and directing?
Shane Meadows and I saw Mean Streets one weekend and then we went to a petrol station where you could hire these old cameras that had the VHS cassettes in them. It was the first time I’d ever picked up a camera and we just did silly little sketches and watched them back and laughed our heads off.
Did you have an educational background in film?
I spent two years in bed with a back problem when I was a little boy, but I had really good home tuition. My English teacher just made me write stories. He’d send me a brief, I’d write the story and that was my English education for about a year and a half. When I finished school, I went to business school for four weeks. I then quit that, because it was awful. I got a call from a friend who was doing a performing arts course. They needed help lighting a show. So I went in to help out, and I was watching everyone pretending to be trees, thinking, ‘what a load of nonsense.’ But actually, that’s where I started to write. Then I went on and did a contemporary art degree, and I was writing one-man shows and monologues that I could improvise around because I performed them myself.
When was your big break, and did you see it coming?
At the same time, I was writing little shorts with Shane and we got interest from Palace Pictures/Scala Productions (Stephen Woolley, Nik Powell, Imogen West). They’d seen a short film we’d made called Where’s the Money, Ronnie? and offered us money to make a proper short. We said ‘no,’ though. We wanted to make a feature. The idea we had at that time was for 24/7. So, they paid for us to go and write in a cottage in Wales. After five days, we sent them 200 pages and thought, ‘That was easy.’ They sent us back a list of notes and that’s where my proper education began, I guess. It allowed me to train to be a screenwriter on the job.
The full article is printed in Film Ireland 133.