Q. We read in the press notes that the inspiration for this movie came from a painting of a boy running through a field and the look of joy in his eyes. How did you start to develop the film from that? A: I walked into the artist’s studio and I saw that painting and recognised the expression on that little boy’s face of pure joy and happiness. It was literally just one of those moments of remembering what its like to be a kid. I loved the feeling of how a perfume or a song can set me off on thinking about the past. I’d always wanted to work with Daniel Craig and knew that I was going to have to write a script if I was ever going to, so set about putting two stories together.
Q: Is that why music is used so strongly in the film? Are these songs that you listened to in your youth? A: Those songs were really, really important to me as a child and as a teenager. David Bowie and Roxy Music informed my life and they kind of introduced me to a bigger world and an artistic world. The Roxy Music track (When You Were Young) in particular has been my favourite track and was the key to the writing of the script because the lyrics are so pertinent to the story. It’s kind of a little known song too, and you know, it just seemed to work perfectly.
Q: There’s a fantastic French film called C.R.A.Z.Y with a fantastic soundtrack. The director of that film was complaining that it cost him a fortune to license the tracks but he used them anyway because he felt they belonged to him, did you feel the same about the music you used? A: Yeah, I was really lucky to have all the songs I wanted, I think that we have to pay a bit more than people wanted to. I think the producers understood how important they were, and so it worked out.
Q: There are quite a number of music video directors who are doing incredibly amazing stuff, like Michel Gondry, Spike Jones for example. How do you feel to be in such good company? A: I don’t know if I do yet, (laughs). Let’s see how I do first, you know. I admire those guys, they’re fantastic, I’ve been wanting to make a feature film for a long time, and I finally got to make it. How people respond to it, let’s see if it does well. I know that I have the best year of my life, and I was given a lot of money to make a story that I wrote. It doesn’t really get better than that. So, how it’s perceived and where I’m put in that line up, who knows? I can’t even think about it, really. I just feel very lucky that I got to do that.
Q: Your friendship with Daniel, is what led him to project and what made him want to champion it, how much did that help you in terms of the film? A: I wouldn’t have made it without Daniel’s support, I would never have made it. I wrote it a long time ago before Dan’s success, luckily, his success made it possible. The lesson of that is always wish your friends big success.
Q: The film opens and closes in L.A., are interested in kind of exploring films that kind of take place outside of Britain. In this film the Britain that you present is not really Britain… A: No, it is an idea of Britain. I mean I love the idea of an English star who wants to make an English film. But I didn’t want it to be kind of grimy realism. I wanted it to feel like a distant childhood memory, which is kind of a heightened reality. All my summers, when I think back to them, have blue skies. So, I wanted the memory to have that heightened reality, which is why we shot in South Africa and built those houses on that beach. I wanted to have a romantic idea of what childhood was to set against the tragedy.
Q: How did you go about casting a young Daniel Craig? A: Well, I was looking for young Daniel Craig, and Harry walked through the door, and straight away I thought, I found him. I completely believe that this boy could be a young Daniel. He was the first boy I saw and I didn’t even ask him to read. I just knew that he was right. He had a naturalness to him, he didn’t seem like a stage school kid. He felt really raw and teenage, and awkward, and discreet, so yeah, I was looking for a young Daniel, and I think I found him.
Q. Did Daniel and Harry work together to capture each other’s character traits? A: They didn’t have to work at it because there’s something similar about the two of them. They’re both naturals. When I was casting the movie, Harry would always be there in every reading so over the space of six months, it was a gradual process. I never had to direct him by saying: “A young Daniel would never do that…” We had to suspend disbelief anyway, and we had to take you back to this magical place, so we made a decision quite early on not to attempt to do the same mannerisms. He’s a young teenager growing up and that’s the important part of the story. But they’re both incredibly natural and instinctive actors and the last thing that I wanted to do when we were getting Harry to play the young Joe Scot was to push him into a corner… he’s a natural.
Q: Do you like the idea of going to Hollywood and making a big Hollywood Film? A: I like idea of big Hollywood of course, but only if it’s a great story and great script, yeah, of course! I don’t really want to make Robocop 4. I’d love to make other people’s scripts, I don’t really enjoy writing that much. I wrote Flashbacks out of necessity, because I knew I was never going get a script, so I had to make it possible for myself by writing the script. I don’t enjoy the process of writing particularly, so it’ll be great if I’m given scripts from other people. I don’t know how likely that is, we’ll see, time will tell.
Flashbacks Of A Fool is at Irish cinemas from Friday