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.