Winner of The German International Film Union Prize at this year's Berlin Film Festival, LATE NIGHT SHOPPING marks the first collaboration between FilmFour and the Glasgow Film Office.
After only eighteen months of intensive development, LATE NIGHT SHOPPING, written by Jack Lothian (27) and directed by Saul Metzstein (30) was fully financed and ready to go into production. One of the most respected DOPs in the business, Brian Tufano (Billy Elliot (2000), East Is East (1999), Trainspotting (1996)) joined the production team for the six week shoot around Glasgow in May 2000. The project attracted further funding from the Scottish Screen National Lottery Fund and Senator Film in Germany.
LATE NIGHT SHOPPING is also the first feature film to launch the film arm of Ideal World, headed up by producer Angus Lamont. "It was great to see LATE NIGHT SHOPPING developing so quickly. Both Jack and Saul were very confident in what they were doing. In some ways this should be exactly what you look for, if you detect someone is confident and knows what they are doing then it's more likely they can ultimately pull it off," says Lamont.
This feature film is a continuation of the creative partnership of writer Jack Lothian and director Saul Metzstein. They worked together on the short film SANTA CLAWS and most recently on THE NAME OF THIS FILM IS DOGME 95, a documentary for Channel 4 Television.
Lothian explains that he and Metzstein initially worked on short films, but soon after SANTA CLAWS decided to tackle a feature instead, "We had the title LATE NIGHT SHOPPING but no script. FilmFour liked the sound of it, so we had to come up with a story then!"
Lothian has written about a world that he knows only too well. "I was working in Directory Enquires when writing the first draft of the script but before that worked in a supermarket and a hospital. "
"Although Jack and I are very different in terms of which films have influenced us, we both agree on the kind of films we like," says director Metzstein. "Saul and I have a very strict rule - we only want to make films that we would actually want to see," adds Lothian.
"At school I lived round the corner from the Cameo Cinema in Edinburgh and dated a girl who worked there. So I saw lots of rather bizarre German art house films during this time," laughs Lothian who also claims to have seen every teen movie ever released.
Metzstein grew up on art house cinema, but "crudely speaking I almost always prefer American films to British films. I admire writers and directors who make essentially commercial films but then put enough complexity into it to make it more than that. Steven Soderbergh or The Coen Brothers for example."
Metzstein explains his preference, "I find many modern British movies are too safe, script-edited to death so have no edge to them. Some of the dialogue is quite eccentric in LATE NIGHT SHOPPING but I would rather go with that. " Lothian adds, "I like to see films which are dialogue-based but what you see on the screen doesn't look scripted. In every bad job I've worked in, people have passed the time just talking away like crazy. The script is a reflection of that. "
"One big advantage I have as a director is that I have worked on films in different capacities from Runner upwards, so I know the mechanics of filmmaking. As a result, many aspects don't frighten me and don't affect me as much. I've learnt from other people's mistakes," Metzstein explains.
"Time is the thing you fight against. But then, strict time limits make for a certain kind of filmmaking, which is in itself interesting. The limitations are very beneficial. I think a lot of the style of this film is to do with the speed of filming. Every director wants more time and more money but, apart from that, I couldn't have wanted anything: we had every bit of equipment, beautiful sets and a friendly cast. "
"The whole point was to make an intimate film but at the same time be aware that the four friends are little characters in a big world. The film is very self-conscious in that respect. We wanted grandeur of scale but intimacy at the same time. The grandeur of scale comes from the way we shot it - it's very cinematically shot I think - with the size and richness of the set. In seeing the characters' smallness against the sets you sense their isolation. This has worked out from the script to director to designer to cameraman.
"It was great to be working with Brian Tufano, who I first met when I was the Production Runner on SHALLOW GRAVE (1994). I can now see why he and director Danny Boyle had such a good relationship and why you'd begin to depend on someone like that. You actually see how much he can bring to a film. I'd love to work with him again. "
The film also benefited from the involvement of award winning editor Justine Wright who Metzstein had worked with on the documentary "The Name Of This Film Is Dogme95". Wright says " I jumped at the chance of working with Saul again. He's got a great sense of humour and a very collaborative approach to film making so cutting with him is always fun. I was also very attracted by the screenplay. Besides being a clever and funny piece of writing, I liked the use of flashback sequences seen from differing points of view. The striking art direction and Brian Tufano's rich camera work give the film a very strong visual style. We tried to give the editing a similar boldness using dissolves, repetition and jarring audio cuts".
Further emphasising the humour of the film Metzstein concludes, "I think the chemistry worked really well between the actors. If you can get stuff which is really funny between four people just sitting there, genuinely really funny before you turn the camera on - you are onto a winner".