Cloud does have a tendency to come up with some diamond last minute events. Out of the blue he gets in touch Friday and offers up the prospect of an event at the local independent art house cinema: Nottingham Broadway.
A Q&A with Paddy Considine and a screening of Dead Man's Shoes (bloody fantastic British film directed by Shane Meadows first seen by us in the company of lovely George up in Aberdeen).
We had a nice tea at the Broadway's own cafe and then piled upstairs to the Screen 1. Amazingly, it wasn't sold out (something which Paddy himself addressed when first welcoming us: "They told me it was sold out: fucking liars! There's loads of empty seats!")*
We had a screening of Dog Altogether Paddy's BAFTA award winning directorial short-film debut**: a very dark but rather compelling narrative starring the wonderful Peter Mullan and Olivia Coleman. We then had a clip-show of several of Paddy's best known films (which unfortunately had to be restarted after the first attempt was woefully out of sound synchronisation). Then it was the main event. James Mottram interviewing Paddy Considine about film making and his life so far.
Considine is wonderfully articulate and witty - swears profusely - and comes over as someone who couldn't lie convincingly if his life depended on it. He's not best known for doing a lot of interviews and I think the audience appreciated that we were getting a rare chance to hear him talk so candidly. He talked about Dog Altogether and its drawing on Considine's own violent father's experiences. He talked about doing mainstream films (specifically Cinderella Man - with Russell Crowe - and The Bourne Ultimatum) and didn't diss the entire experience. Indeed, he was really charming about Cinderella Man for its lovely entertainment value ("even though I'm only in it five minutes") not least for the thrill he got whilst doing boxing practice before takes and getting tips from Mohammad Ali's trainer... And Considine was also excitable talking about getting his (brief) role in the Bourne film ("it's Paul Greengrass! It's a Bourne film! You get a really explosive scene! We're going to pay you 20p!").
When the event was thrown open to the floor, one girl sat by the wall on the front row at the far side of the cinema was eagerly in with the first question: "Where did the title 'Dog Altogether' come from?" Turns out it was a phrase from his dad to describe when things are altogether fucked up (his uncle in a willful turn of phrase would himself say such things were 'cat'). There was another question from someone questioning and asking for advice from a creative perspective [there were a lot of these which got a tad self-absorbed really]. And then...
Well, you know me. I hate a silence. I put my hand up. Cue approaching guy with mike for me (stop laughing at the back - I know I could have managed without it but these were mostly people who didn't know me: they don't need to know I can't be heard in outer-space...***)
There was a bit of a fuddle waiting for the mike to get down the row to me, in which time Paddy 'complained' about them keeping 'a young lady waiting'. Neil later joked Considine may need glasses. Charming, dear boy. [And to think I'm taking him to see Catherine Tate on stage...]
Anyway, once the mike arrived I asked him about whether he had taken the chance to talk to Peter Mullan much about his experience of directorial debuts. Now this was my way of tapping into a bit of cross-referencing. Mullan's first feature film was Orphans: see, it all comes together... All good. There were more questions - pretty much all of them having some 'I'm a writer', 'I'm a photographer' (Considine studied photography), 'I'm a writer' variety - before they asked for a final question. Two hands went up almost simultaneously. And one of them was the girl who had had the first question. Mottram was keen to give another voice a chance but Paddy let her go and she dashed up to the stage and got him to sign her ticket for him ("What's yer name luv?" "Natalie") before running back to her mates clearly pleased as punch at the action. A final question after all that delight - and Considine was just brilliant in cheering her on - was always going to be an anti-climax, especially when it turned into another 'I'm a...' question.
Having said that, the heartfelt response that he offered on how to deal with using personal experience as the basis of writing ("if you're a writer, you write; you just have to put it out there and believe in it") was full of determination. The crowd were elated to vigorously applaud the end of the event.
At which point, as we all stood to stretch our legs - and then exit to allow them to take down the filming lights and mikes etc - I spotted a familiar face: a former PhD colleague who it turned out had heard and recognised my voice in the Q&A bit! It was lovely to see her however briefly.
When we headed back for the film screening, Paddy made a brief reappearance - again thanking us sincerely for for turning out and the reception we had given. He also have a tip about seeing him in Nottingham and Derby: "I don't mind you coming up and saying hi or anything, but can you not quote bits from this film at me when I'm with ma kids!" (He went on to quote a couple of choice moves and lines which would freak anyone out, let alone a couple of kids!)
The film of course was brilliant and it was awesome to see it on a big screen. Considine turns in a terrific performance. My favourite bit is when, confronted by hard man Sonny - played by Gary Stretch, Considine is asked "You're not afraid of me are you?" and Considine's laugh in response sums up his own character's position. He SO does not give a fuck. It is chilling and despairing. It's basically a revenge western but set in the East Midlands. Make of that what you will. But though not for the faint-hearted, it is an incredible performance in an amazing British film.
A great night!
* Though it wasn't sold out, given it was out of term time for the unis there weren't that many empty seats in the end...
** The event was co-hosted by BAFTA and EM Media (which runs out of the Broadway Media Centre and is also involved in Shane Meadows' films)
*** Doctor, no need for you to be lonely in the TARDIS sweetie, especially if you're off to meet David Morrissey. I will happily take on the task of keeping you company...