Everyone’s Going To Die – Max Barron Interview

Everyone's Going To Die Poster
Title: Everyone’s Going To Die
Director: Jones
Starring: Nora Tschirner,
Rob Knighton,
Genre: Comedy, Drama,
Runtime: 1 Hour 27 mins
Music: Charlie Simpson
Certificate: 15
Release Date: Jun 26 2015
See If You Like: Lost In Translation,
The Squid and the Whale,

This week we got the chance to chat to Max Barron (part of the Jones directing team) about the release of the new British film Everyone’s Going To Die and what it’s like making a low budget British film for modern audiences.

Have you done a lot of interviews so far? Do you have a most annoying question… you know, so I can scratch it off my list?

[laughing] Oh I see, you’re trying to get ahead of the game? Actually, no not too much, we’ve mostly done bits of press at festivals while we’ve been travelling around, mostly in Russian or French actually (with a bit of translation), but I don’t think there’s any annoying questions at this stage. One of the things you hope for when your movie’s coming out is that you get people asking questions and interested in the film, so it’s just lovely to be asked anything at all!

The film’s been shown at a lot of festivals and there have been a number of reviews so far – how have you felt about the reception? Do you think it’s been good?

It’s been amazing actually. We didn’t have any expectation or anything because it was such a small thing and we just tried to make this movie we were proud of and we liked and didn’t really know if it would be shown to anybody. It’s so cool to speak to people all over the world who’ve picked bits up, and get it and like jokes that we put in or like ideas that are in there that they understood. It’s just a beautiful thing.

As for the critical response, it has been ridiculously positive so far, especially in the festival circuit. It was just like a weird dream because you’re thinking ‘Things have got to go wrong at some point’, and I’m sure it will… obviously now that the film is coming out we’ll get, from what I hear, a lot of reviews from different places, so you’re going to find people that don’t like it of course, and that’s totally cool too, but yeah so far the majority of people have been really positive.

Is it really nerve racking at festivals watching people’s faces?

Yeah it’s crazy sitting through with an audience. I mean we’ve hardly done it really. We did for the premier I think and it was just awful… I mean it was great because they loved it [laughing]… but before that we’d only ever shown it to these test screens we did with people we knew or friends of friends, so they always sort of have a reason to be constructive, and then suddenly you’re showing it to this room full of strangers

I think what was nice is after showing the film we’d go around and do Q and A’s, and what happens is you tend to have the people who like it come up to you and say ‘I really liked it’, but no one really comes up and says ‘I hated it, I thought it was rubbish.’ Those people tend to just go home. So in a way you’re a bit sheltered from that side of things.

But yeah it is nerve racking, and you just think now that it’s coming out and luckily we’ve gotten in some really cool cinemas and we’ve got some good attention around it, I feel like we’ve sort of jumped out of that micro budget world and into the normal movie world and it’s worrying because it’s a big stage to be judged on.

Everyone's Going To Die 01  Rob Knighton, Nora Tschirner

What’s it like going from doing small projects and making music videos to make a full length movie?

Brilliant! You get to do things your way! [laughing]. You get to make up this story to tell and tell it the way you want to, so you get this great ownership of it all and then if people don’t like that it’s kind of fine because that’s just the way it is and films work like that. The frustrating thing tends to be when the reasons for criticisms are not your own mistakes but something someone else made you do, because you feel like ‘Well I never wanted to do that anyway’.

So yeah that’s been the brilliant thing for us with this project is that all the really shit bits are our own fault [laughing].

So you are a member of a collaboration called Jones. What’s it like working together and how do you keep your relationship strong?

So there are actually really two of us, me and a guy call Mike Woodward. And the only reason he isn’t here right now is to avoid the madness of a three way Skype call [laughing].

We met quite a while back in a production company and actually got put together on a project that was only meant to be a one off, but we got on really well. We didn’t really know each other before that, just sort of as colleagues, but not mates or anything. I think that really helps though, because although now of course we are mates, if we hadn’t got on we probably just would have gone on our separate ways, or if we hadn’t had complimentary tastes. Whereas I think if it’s your brother or it’s your best mate you’re trying to direct in teams that are sort of forced together, you’ve always got this sort of tension and you’ve got this other relationship riding on it.

It’s just really lovely to go through anything that’s quite hard work (in a good way and a bad way) with someone else, and to have them have the same interests in it as you do, have the same amount at stake as you do. That’s a really lovely thing in life generally I think, so I would totally recommend it for film making cause it can be stressful and you have to stick to your guns a lot so it’s brilliant to have someone to share that with.

Everyone's Going To Die 02  Rob Knighton

You’ve had the chance to work with some great talent on this project – how do you go about find your cast? Do you just stumble on them or do you hold auditions?

Well a cross between the two actually. Rob we discovered because he’d just been shot for a photography campaign by a friend of mine, he was scouted as a model when he was in his mid 50s. He’s got a really cool back-story actually, he’s a carpet fitter and hadn’t done any acting really before we found him and we were kind of looking to maybe discover someone so that was amazing luck and we didn’t really look at anyone else for that part, we just thought ‘We’ve met this guy, we think he’s great, and let’s just stick with him.’

With Nora, the part was written as a European but we didn’t necessarily mind which country as long as it was quite near England, for story reasons. We spoke to a couple of French actresses but also managed to get the script to Nora which was amazing luck really. I think she’d just had a project cancelled. So she read it and really liked it and we had a Skype chat with her just to really sort of check her English [laughing] and of course she speaks amazing English and she was just such a cool person. The thing is, with people at her level – cause she’s very big in Germany – they don’t really do castings anyway unless it’s a really big thing, so that was that. And again, Nora turned up on set and it just all clicked. We’d never worked together, never been in the same room together but it just worked.

But with the rest of the cast, we didn’t really have a lot of money to do full on casting, which is why the runners are in it, the art directors are in it, the wardrobe stylist is in it [laughing]… It was just everyone we could get hold of.

So do you think there are a lot of compromises you have to make when you’re on a smaller budget?

I think the one big thing for anyone with a small budget is just to write a story that’s incredibly simple and small. People can set a film all in one room, but I think we felt the problem with that is that you’re so limited, there’s no way around that – it’ll just always feel like a film that was made for however much money it was. So really, I think we decided NOT to compromise on some things like that, but just to be flexible with locations and things. You can’t be like ‘I want a house that looks exactly like this’… it just has to be a house.

So you can shoot it a certain way that you make the best of it, especially with all the crew who were so amazing and doing us a huge favour for hardly any money, so you can’t take the **** out of those people and just be like ‘Oh sorry, we’re here till midnight.’ It’d just be a bad vibe and we wouldn’t want to do that.

Is the process of getting the film actually shown after making it very difficult?

It can cost a fair bit of money. I guess it should be about who you know… the problem is we don’t really know anyone [laughing].

For us it’s been a really long process. It’s just a small movie and it’s a non genre film. It’s got no one in it that anyone’s heard of and it’s got no one anyone’s heard of making it. You know that the industry is going to find it difficult to get behind that. Then you’ve still got to get cinemas to show it. I think if we’d realised quite what we hard work that was we might not have done it in the first place [laughing] but clearly we didn’t.

Everyone's Going To Die 03  Nora Tschirner

So do you feel proud of the fact that you managed to get so far with this project?

Well we’ve really got so many people to thank for that as we ran a kick starter campaign. Our distributor watched it and he’s an amazing supporter of small indie movies. He said to us ‘Look, I really like it and maybe we can do this but you’re going to need some money, and here’s how I would go about getting it.’

So we did this kick starter campaign, never really expecting to get anywhere near our total, but everyone was so cool and generous. So yeah, it’s thanks to that really.

Did you start out film making as a hobby? When did you know you wanted to do it as a career?

I personally was always in to writing, it was my thing. Then I kind of fell into directing by doing a weird documentary for this production company I worked for. Mike was a visual researcher in advertising and he wanted to direct and so they put us together because I’d directed something and he wanted to direct and that was kind of the idea. We thought we’d do a couple of things and then I’d go back to writing and he’d go off and direct, but I actually really enjoyed it and we both enjoyed working together.

I think Mike always had more of an ambition on the directorial side, and then I had to sort of make writing come back around to meet the directing, because we started directing ads and music videos and things were you don’t really do much of that. So this is one of the first time’s we’ve been able to shoot something fully written by us.

I found when I watched the film I kept noticing little details, for example Nora opening a fridge and there being a wine bottle with a spoon in the top. Do you remember that? Do you put things like that in intentionally?

[Laughing] Yeah, that was something the art director put in as an after party kind of vibe, that’s really cool that you noticed that. I’ll tell her she’ll really appreciate it!

That’s exactly it though. I suppose our taste is to have these little things everywhere, even if its lines or ideas in the script and just to kind of let them be there and not necessarily present them too much. You either get them or you don’t and that’s fair enough and if you don’t get them hopefully people watch it again and get it the second time or something and it’s just kind of more fun to do it that way I think. If you do get it you get more from it, rather than feeling like you’re being force fed it.

Everyone's Going To Die 04 Nora Tschirner

So ‘two lost souls’ is a popular theme in films, and you can’t help but draw similarities to other films, in particular ‘Lost in Translation’ kept coming to mind – where there any particular films you drew from or any film makers who styles you like?

I wouldn’t say we have one or two clear references. Obviously, ‘Lost in Translation’s a film we thought about because of the age dynamic between the two characters. It’s a great film and we love it, but you don’t wanna end up just doing a version of that. We had to work out how to not do what another movie has already done, and how to make it our own thing.

Sofia Coppola’s work is great. She’s got that thing of having a real smile on her face in a lot of what she does, which I think sometimes people miss and they take what she’s saying quite seriously in situations where she doesn’t really mean it to be taken that seriously. The other one would be Noah Baumbach maybe, because we love the fact that he makes these talky films that are naturalistic and funny. It’s that thing of trying to be a bit funny and a bit serious at the same time, which is sort of tricky to get right. You can so easily end up being neither if you’re not careful, but I think if you can get it right and you end up being both… that’s just the best place to be. So we at least wanted to try and aim for that.

Is there anything about modern cinema that you dislike and try to avoid?

That is a very good question… and probably the sort of thing that would get us into trouble [laughing].

I think the only thing we didn’t want – and it’s not that we dislike it at all – but when we started out there was a certain feeling that with low budget British films, they tend to have one tone and it tends to be quite social realist and very often moody even depressing. Even if the films are really good (and there are some great ones) when you’ve watched a few of those, you do sometimes feel like you’re watching the same film again and again as a viewer.

I think we just wanted to have fun and not fall into the traps you can fall into with drama. I think – and I hope I don’t sound like a ****head when I say this – it’s easier to be very serious than it is to be funny. I’m definitely not saying we succeeded in being funny, but the dramatic part of stories is easier put together if everybody’s going to die [laughing] (ironically, the title of the film, but it doesn’t actually happen in it) or if everyone’s on drugs and it’s all miserable. But to actually find the smaller things that are a bit more true to the every man… it just feels a bit harder to get that spot on.

I suppose we felt like, with low budget films particularly, sometimes British films don’t actually represent the way British life really is. They are really quite a small slice of people’s lives, just the extremes. So you go to France or somewhere and they are like ‘So what is it with all the British films being this sort of social realist thing?’ I don’t know where that comes from, but yeah, that was something we really were sort of maybe reacting against.

What do you hope people take away from the film?

I think that overall it would be really nice if people just felt that they had smiled and/or laughed and that they were left with something a bit to think about and something to kind of identify with and that it moved them a little bit. We’re not claiming it’s this big dramatic thing, but it would just be nice to feel like people have been made to laugh, but in the service of some ideas.

Everyone’s  Going to Die is in cinemas now.

Becky Gant.