The People Behind The Film
We came across the director of Grandmother’s Footsteps, Rob Curry, as he was giving a talk on how to make films at the So & So Arts Club Kick Up the Arts Festival in London. On the surface Grandmother’s Footsteps is a very English film with a subtle humour over a very silly premise. All the way through we were grinning gleefully at the reactions of the protagonist as she struggles to come to terms with a man who sees her as his grandmother. It’s certainly quirky but avoids any empty or shallow, overplayed gags, as the two actors do a great job of keeping everything anchored in reality. We invited Rob over to our office in London to discuss the story.
Anthony Fletcher was the screenwriter of Grandmother’s Footsteps and frequently collaborates with Rob. But we had to embark on a virtual voyage to Montevideo, Uruguay, to track him down. No expense was spared as we sent an email. We wanted to ensure we had his take on how he came up with such a quirky story. We also wanted to know how much input he had on the film process, from inception to production. We’ve added some quotes Anthony gave us to the interview below.
It started out as a story on the back of a postcard
With the energy, charm and joie de vivre of a happy schoolboy putting a live toad into the teacher’s desk, the director Rob Curry bounced into our office, fueled by toast and marmite lifted from his children’s plate.
He explains how he and long-time collaborator Anthony Fletcher got to work together on a new project funded by an exchange programme, between the British Council and Iranian filmmakers. Anthony explained that the story actually came about off the back of a children’s game called Grandmother’s Footsteps: “At the time I was directing a play and I would use the game as an exercise in rehearsals. I believe the story emerged from the image of the title. Thereafter we ironed out the various drafts, but I had nothing to do with the actual production, something I’ve come to believe is probably best for a writer. Far better to hand the flame over to the director and see where they take it.”
We needed to ground it in something real for people to engage with it
Rob took over and workshopped the story with the actors. The idea was to make the film “hypernatural”, which required the actors to underplay “the weirdness of the situation”. Once that tone was found, the piece flowed quite well. As the writer, Anthony Fletcher was quite happy with the outcome: “Film is the most naturalistic of mediums, using these actors and this location helped to consolidate this”. He called it a “Cassavetes touch.”
The film is multi-layered. We asked if the script was meant to shine a light on ageism or the place of elderly people in our society.
Anthony did have a statement to make. He describes cinema as sexist: “The likes of O’Toole, Ford and Douglas are allowed to frolic with women old enough to be their granddaughters. But if the genders are reversed it can still seem genuinely shocking.”
Difficulties? Absolutely, literally none!
Rob and Anthony were in different continents during the production process. Anthony felt that it helped to focus the mind. With Skype available, they were able to continue a fruitful writer – director relationship. Anthony states:
“Without denying the importance of development, I know that the process can become torturous with endless meetings which only serve to muddy the water. A script’s value is that it is a document. If you can’t meet face-to-face this helps to prioritise the focus on the realisation of this document.”
Everything is a step forward from the last thing you did.
With a background in theatre and absolutely no concept of film production, Anthony and Rob one day decided to make a feature film. And they did. From there things just exploded.
Anthony advises beginning film makers to do the same:
“Go out and make films. You can’t learn how film works if you haven’t made anything. Learn how to edit. Film time is different to normal time. You only really get a grasp of that when it comes to the edit.”