Bottom Left Hand Corner

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I took this picture of the curtains of the Savoy, Dublin, while waiting for CLOUD ATLAS, the new film from Tom Tykwer and the Wachowskis, to start. Little dreaming that I would be standing up there three hours later —

Here’s what happened: Fiona and I were in the audience as ordinary punters, but also curious to see how much of my work ended up in the movie. Line producer David Brown, a friend, had contacted me about the idea of getting students from the Edinburgh College of Art film course to shoot additional material for the movie. We agreed a deal whereby the students would get paid, and I volunteered to take part too.

At a certain point in one of CLOUD ATLAS’s six stories, Tom Hanks, playing a London criminal who’s authored a book, throws a literary critic off a roof and his memoir suddenly becomes a best-seller. My students and I were shooting material that would be incorporated into a splitscreen montage showing the media sensation this causes. We were never exactly sure whether any of our stuff would wind up in the movie, but to our pleasure we heard that some of it had.

A whole five seconds of the bottom left-hand corner! I was delighted.

(It’s possible that the DVD contains the unexpurgated versions of our films, I’ll get back to you on that.)

So, the film (to be reviewed later) finished, and then I was thrilled to see my name in the credits — hadn’t been sure that would happen. And then festival director Grainne Humphreys took the stage with one of the film’s stars, James D’Arcy, for a Q&A. D’Arcy is terrific in the film, in all his roles, and it was fun hearing from him — he seems really nice. And then the audience had their questions, but I couldn’t think of any. Fiona was nudging me, saying “Are you going to ask a question?” And then they asked for one last question, but the audience had run out. So I stuck my hand up.

“False pretenses,” I confessed, when the microphone got to me.” I just wanted to say that I directed five seconds of the bottom left hand corner of this film.”

“The fourth director!” cried Grainne, my new best pal, “Get up here!”

(In fact I’m one of seven additional directors for that montage, and we have to factor in second-unit directors who probably shot twenty times as much of the finished film as me, but it’s the thought that counts. And they weren’t there, or didn’t stick their hands up during the q&a.)

And that is how I ended up on the stage of the Savoy in front of the audience of the CLOUD ATLAS premiere. “It was a pleasure collaborating with you,” I told Mr. D’Arcy as I shook his hand. When I returned to Fiona, one of the women sitting next to me asked for my autograph. A moment of silly glory snatched from the jaws of oblivion.


4 Responses to “Bottom Left Hand Corner”

  1. WONDERFUL!!! brought a grin to my face this morning. I’m saddened by the critical response to the film I went slightly reluctantly on sa (ingrained mistrust of films made from literary novels) but was actually quite impressed. I think there is a lack of any kind of support for taking a bit of a creative risk and actually on the whole it works. I’m pretty sure however I saw Glasgow masquerading as San Francisco… am I right?

  2. Oh yes — that’s West George Street I think pretending to be SF. Didn’t quite convince me, but worked on the same level as the goofier makeups on cast. Strange that critics have been so stand-offish. I couldn’t get behind Tykwer’s Perfume or the Wachowskis’ Speed Racer, which had ambition too, but didn’t strike me as entertaining or effective, but regardless of how effective one finds CA, I’d be surprised if anybody was bored by it… I think you definitely get your money’s worth… of something or other. I found it very appealing.

  3. Cloud Atlas was one of last year’s most entertaining but least appreciated films. It BOMBED stateside, for reasons that elude me as I enjoyed it from start to finish. That you contributed to the mixi s great to know. And mix it as as there’s no point in divining precisely what Twyker did as separated from Larry and Lana.

    Lana, BTW, is a total delight in person.

    Very exciting to see the Wachowski’s development. Bound was a very small-scale delight, dependent entirely on the abundant charm of the three leads. The Matrix trilogy was quite a different story.Yet it wouldn’t have worked at all without Keanu — and his most insrutably Keanu. And that’s not to mention Carrie-Ann Moss (who seems to ave wandered in from a late period Rivette movie), the lovely Lambert Wilson and of course Fish.

    Cloud Atlas is a correction of the misstep of Speed racer — which was too visually busy for most moviegoers.

  4. I do think they were onto something with Speed Racer — the black-on-black look of The Matrix is old now and films need to get more colourful. But they didn’t have an engaging or well-told story to hang on. Matthew Fox looked great in his costume, I’ll say that for it.

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