At the Berlin Film Festival last week, we had the pleasure of catching up with "Comes a Bright Day" writer/director Simon Aboud, who told us about getting the film made, as well as the status of his Brit-listed script "This Beautiful Fantastic," and what he hopes to roll on next.
"Comes a Bright Day" is your first feature, can you tell us a little bit about getting it made?
Well here's the odd thing, getting this made was really easy. But I've done the pain thing before. It's by no means the first script I've written. I had a script, "This Beautiful Fantastic," which was on the Brit list and had Carey Mulligan attached…and somehow, I don't know, it never got financed. Then I was working on another film called "Sunny's Tale" — a really a lovely script, If I say so myself! — which had Freddie Highmore attached. And then that didn't happen, and then I had this idea for this film. And I actually, the first person I met liked the script, and that was in October 2010, we shot it in May 2011. So we developed it, cast it, financed it. I mean it was pretty intense, "easy" is probably completely the wrong word, it was just successfully put together pretty quickly.
About casting, you've assembled a great cast, can you tell us about that process?
Yeah, Imogen [Poots] was always kind of top of the list…we did a Skype call and that was it, she was pretty much there and that was brilliant. And then we had Shaheen Baig casting it, who's fantastic. She put me in touch with Craig [Roberts] and she put me in touch with Josef Altin ["Game of Thrones"] who played Clegg brilliantly. He's an amazing find. And then I was just really super lucky. Tim [Spall] is in a crowd of actors who get a lot of scripts and don't need to do stuff. So that's bad news for little films like mine. Really bad news because they have their stripes and they don’t need to do this stuff. And I got this brilliant phone call, Tim was on his boat, he travels around the country with his wife on this boat, making this documentary. And I had this lovely phone call where he rang up and said, "Yeah, yeah, I really like this, let's do it." Kevin [McKidd] kind of needed convincing but liked the script and we talked about it a lot. He slummed it, he came over and lived in a little flat in London and did it. So I was really lucky.
Kevin's is one of the trickier roles, I'd imagine, to cast and also to write?
Well you've definitely hit upon a truth there, which is that he was the character that I developed the most, with Kevin. He's the threat. So it was interesting to build a character who is just ostensibly a black character. There's no real light shining from this guy, he killed people, he's happy killing people, whatever. But as this thing develops …something’s got inside of him, some of the light got through this chink in the armor and so does the girl.
Had you seen "Submarine" before casting Craig Roberts?
No, I saw it very soon afterwards, but Craig's such an interesting character I don't think it would have made a huge difference if I had. It's a subjective thing, and everyone else was great, we had some great people reading, but he had it by the end of the first sentence. It was like "Ah, it's him." It was funny because I then read an interview that Richard [Ayoade] had said exactly the same thing, that he just walked into the room and he knew it was him. Craig has this incredible thing that he's not classically trained, all of the others are, all of the others are quite intimidating actors, because Imogen and Kevin and Tim are all pretty talented, but he not only holds his own but he kind of lights up the screen by himself. What he's got is amazing: a physical thing just being on the screen, he doesn't need to talk. I have no idea what it is.
What's your next project?
Weirdly enough I finished the first draft yesterday. It's a father-son story set in L.A., the story of a guy who's like a kind of…if I say modern-day Gatsby, not quite, but someone who has an enormous allure and charisma and success and yet… privately he's a crippled addict. It's about how he falls from grace in the most spectacular fashion and is forced to go back and live with his Dad on Manhattan Beach. His dad designs swimming pools and he ends up having to build swimming pools with his dad. It's called "The Shallow End." It's about how he and his Dad kind of reconnect and there's a love story built into it. It's kind of quirky.
So you're hopeful that that will be your next directorial project?
I hope so, yeah.
Is there any prospect of "This Beautiful Fantastic" coming back to life?
Yeah I think it will get made. I do think it will get made. We couldn't find an agreement on it this year and we want to make sure that we give it a really good run and get the right cast. The great thing is it's there and it's done, you know? And there's always been a great reception to that script so there's nothing really I'd change about it, it's done. So I suspect, hopefully, a sort of 2013, 2014 time frame. I really want to do a film in the U.S.
Could "This Beautiful Fantastic" end up being U.S.-based?
Well you know the interesting thing is, someone asked me the same question the other day and I couldn't find a good enough reason to say no.
"Comes A Bright Day" will open in the U.K. later this year; there is no U.S. distribution lined up just yet.