Alex Moreland chats with Noel Clarke about his new film Brotherhood…
Could you tell us a little bit about the development of these movies, and what inspired you in terms of their original conception? Would you say they’re quite personal to you?
I grew up in that area, in West London; the first film was based on me and my friends, so that’s where the original inspiration for the film came from. The first one was pretty personal, yeah, but the second one is more of a movie, and the third one, that was about having kids and growing up, just thinking about if I put that character in that situation, how is he going to react?
You wrote Kidulthood, but went on to both write and direct the subsequent two movies in the series; did you find that you preferred having that greater level of control over your original material?
Yes, but that wasn’t the reason it happened; it happened because the director didn’t want to do the second one. He was offered the second film – I had no designs of being a director – but he didn’t want to do it, and then from that point on they asked if I wanted to do it, and that’s when we made the choice.
There was an eight-year gap between Adulthood and Brotherhood – how do you think that shaped the movie?
In real life, I had children, and so it gave time for the character to have children; I actually made the gap ten years in the film, between Adulthood and Brotherhood, and I wanted to show how it was – you know, me being the oldest actor, not being the youngest person on set anymore, to not be the fastest runner, to not be in the best shape anymore. That was the point.
In the last few years, you’ve said that you think the television and film industry is moving forward for BAME actors – would it be fair to say that the Hood movies contributed to this progress?
Did I say that? Oh, I don’t know if they contributed, I think the industry is moving forward as a whole. You know, everything evolves, and I think that that’s a good thing. I think that the Hood films have contributed, if that’s the case; all three of the Hood movies are amongst the top ten films with the most black actors in them, so I think that says a lot about them.
You worked on a TV pilot for BBC Three, which tackled similar themes as the Hood trilogy did. Would you ever consider returning to TV?
Yes, yes, I have plans in the works. Watch this space!
Are there any of your works that you feel didn’t get the attention they deserved?
All of them! Well, we did a romcom called The Knot, in 2012, which got absolutely panned, which I think was very unfair. Not because it was better than any other wedding film, but there were four wedding films that year, and ours was supposed to be the first released – on Valentine’s Day. But then it ended up getting delayed, due to problems not of our own causing, and ended up being the fourth wedding film of that year, released in October. I feel like, after three wedding films and coming out in October, people were pretty fed up – so we got absolutely slaughtered. Absolutely slaughtered. I almost thought that wasn’t fair, because actually the film was pretty sweet.
And also, in terms of what you’re talking about, whether I feel like films didn’t get the recognition they deserved – the fairest definition of my films is British and independent. My films – Adulthood, 451, Fast Girls, and Brotherhood most recently, and the success that it was in the box office – and let me just add, the only films that Brotherhood was behind this year, in terms of independent films… I’m going to read you the top ten independent films at the box office. Number one, Eddie the Eagle; number two, The Danish Girl… this is in box office, right? Eddie the Eagle, The Danish Girl, Eye in the Sky, then Brotherhood. Then it’s David Brent: Life on the Road – so we beat The Office – then A Streetcat Named Bob, then Florence Foster Jenkins with Meryl Streep and Hugh Grant, then Swallows and Amazons, then I, Daniel Blake, then High Rise. So, we beat all those films, we’re in number four.
We’re probably the lowest budget of all those movies, we’re British and independent, but yet we had not one different nomination. Now you tell me why Adulthood, 451, Fast Girls, – I can skip Storage 24, and I can skip The Anomaly, and I can even skip The Knot – and Brotherhood with the money it made and the critical acclaim it received – you explain to me why those films, particularly the last one, has no British Independent Film Awards (BIFA) nominations. You can take that and run with that, as a journalist.
You’ve covered a lot of different genres and styles across your work – do you find the approach to something like Fast Girls or Storage 24 is particularly different to process when making the Hood movies?
Nah, I mean, making a movie is making a movie. You prep, you’ve got logistics to plan… I’ve worked in fast track, I’ve just filmed the Duncan Jones film Mute, and essentially the process is always the same, no matter what. Even the budget, it’s just that you have more money to spend on bigger issues, you know, it’s the same.
Finally – what message or idea would you hope people take away from your body of work?
Uh, I don’t know. I just… I don’t know. People will take what they wanna take from it, so I don’t have an opinion on what I want them to take. I would like them to appreciate the fact that I work hard, and that I always try to do what I thought was the best thing.
Thank you very much!
Own BrOTHERHOOD on Blu-ray & DVD on Digital Download December 22nd . Own the complete ‘Hood trilogy on December 26th.