With today’s US release of Kubrick-chasing, fake moon-landing comedy ‘Moonwalkers’ (starring Rupert Grint and Ron Perlman) we catch up with past Film Doctor interviewee, comedy screenwriter and all round awesome guy Dean Craig about his latest project!
Dean! Let’s start with Moonwalkers. Tell us the whole shebang; what it’s about, where the idea came from, how it ended up made/distribbed (spec script/writer-for-hire etc)?
The idea came from the director, Antoine Bardou-Jacquet, who I already knew of as a phenomenal commercials director. He and the producer Georges Bermann invited me to their office one day and said they were looking for a writer for a film about a CIA agent with PTSD who gets sent to London in 1969 with the mission to find Stanley Kubrick and ask him to film a fake moon landing in case the real one doesn’t work. But the troubled agent fails to find Kubrick and instead ends up with a failing band manager and gets embroiled in a world of 60’s music, drugs, hippies and gangsters, while having to somehow pull off the greatest con of the twentieth century. I thought they sounded insane and I was instantly on board.
The film is set in the 60s. What changes (if anything) for you when writing for period?
Obviously you have to think about what technology was available then, and adjust dialogue and situations slightly to match the period. But otherwise the rules are largely the same.
Did you write on set? Where did shooting take place? Did you do dialogue re-writes when it was cast at all?
Unusually I didn’t do any writing on set, and unless I’m forgetting anything I don’t think we did any dialogue rewrites for cast either.
What other interesting pre-prod, prod or post facts or challenges can you tell us about Moonwalkers?
One thing is that the team worked extremely hard to make sure they got the sound and the music right. Having watched a number of different cuts it really reinforced what an enormous contribution music makes to the experience of watching a film.
“A Few Less Men” came about largely as a result of the belief that with those characters and the cast we had playing them there was more to be done and, luckily, enough people agreed that we were able to make the film. We’ve just finished shooting in Perth, which was amazing.
“Carrie Pilby”, which is shooting right now in New York, came to me as a rewrite job. It was a great opportunity for me to work on something that was tonally different to anything I’d done before and to bring out my inner nineteen-year-old girl. It stars Bel Powley, who is brilliant, and the film has the potential to be a real gem.
Has your writing process changed at all in the last couple years? Anything new introduced or old discarded?
I’ve been making the most of opportunities to write in different styles and genres, not just the kind of comedy that I’ve done in the past. I’m also enjoying trying to write a bit more from instinct than intellect, and breaking the rules now and again (even if they’re rules I impose on myself.)
Are there any more writing or industry tips/hints that you’ve discovered that you can share with our readers?
After seven produced films I’ve learned that the end product is so out of your control, especially as a writer, and therefore you need to, as much as possible, let go a little and enjoy the process: the times you have on set, the friends you make, the creative experience. Along with the film, these are the things that you take with you.
What’s next for you?
I’ve just finished writing a film that Marc Forster is attached to direct, and I’m now working on a remake of a French film called “Plan De Table”. In TV, I’ve been writing a pilot for HBO that Sarah Jessica Parker is producing, and about to start a new project for a cable network that I’m excited about but can’t talk about quite yet… And as soon as I’ve got time I’m going to get off my arse and direct a feature.
Moonwalkers is out in the US theatrically and on VOD today!