Q and A with Anton Saunders, dir. of Fourever
Thursday 2 October 2014, by
Anton Saunders directed and starred in Fourever, screened at the Raindance Film Festival (2014).
Anton’s character Johnny, a man struggling to move on from his past, organises a fancy dress soirée with friends he hasn’t seen in ten years. But it is soon apparent that the three friends that turn up had been drawn there under false pretences. As the film progresses, Anton’s real intentions unfold.
The awkward and claustrophobic get-together is punctuated with uncomfortable, tense and occasionally (intentionally?) funny moments (genital shaving), a sense of impending doom hanging over it.
Saunders’ first effort as a director is impressive. His choice of soundtrack, camera angles and non-linear structure all successfully allow the tension to build, drawing us in and catching us off-guard.
The dynamics created between the characters – helped by a seemingly improvised yet witty dialogue - are truthful and organically evolve to keep us guessing, although I would have liked a little more insight into the characters’ motives and history.
Very engaging and an impressive first effort.
How did the project come about?
Philippa Cooper (who plays Lizzie) and I have been collaborating for a long time. We had a few ideas for a story around a love triangle, loosely based on an idea we had for a play. But I don’t like big acting, I didn’t want it to be too theatrical. I wanted to explore the relationships between the characters in a truthful, realistic way. Someone then suggested I look into making a film. I wanted to be as honest and truthful as possible and I thought making a film would be natural progression.
What made you decide to direct it?
I’m a bit of a control freak. Phil and I saw a number of directors but we didn’t feel they were right for this project. I knew what I wanted to see so I went with my gut instinct and decided to direct it.
How did you work with the other actors? Were any moments or bits of dialogue improvised?
Phil and I had obviously worked together for a while and we started working with the other actors early on. A lot of preparation went into it. The dialogue wasn’t improvised. During rehearsals I made sure the actors were word perfect but by the time we had started to shoot they felt very comfortable with the script and in their interactions and would deviate very slightly, introducing a word or a movement that came from them, which made the characters’ behaviours all the more realistic.
As for me, in terms of both directing and acting in the film, I’d set up the environment, the lights, the feel of the scene, get the actors comfortable and then I would join the scene.
Tell us a little about the pre-production process. What sorts of challenges did you face?
Phil and I did everything ourselves. We had a small amount of funding but for the most part, we had borrowed money and equipment, had asked friends for help, used their houses. We had students helping us along the way, making flyers, preparing tea for everyone!
What did you want to explore with Johnny’s characeter?
I wanted to explore this character, trapped by his environment; an obsessive character with a need for love, and reacting to the other characters’ reactions. It all escalates, but obviously, the reactions are highly dramatised.
Where you aiming for a particular style when it came to filming?
I wanted to create a real claustrophobic feel. I sought a Big Brother, or rather, fly-on-the-wall style approach to filming. I felt the camera had to feel invasive.
Do you think you will combine acting and directing in the near future?
Acting pays my rent! I have a few jobs lined up. There is a script I want to work on as a director but I would be seeking funding this time. Hopefully, the fact that the film is out at Raindance and is getting a positive response will lead to interest in our work and potential funding for our future project.