Monthly Archives: November 2012

Interview: Rachel Austin

THIS ARTICLE WAS WRITTEN IN NOVEMBER 2012 FOR THE VELVET ONION

© Rachel Austin

The majority of column inches for Sightseers have focussed on the obvious. Yes, this is highly acclaimed, mind-blowingly brilliant director Ben Wheatley’s third feature. Yes, it’s the brainchild of the ever wonderful Alice Lowe and Steve Oram. There’s even a smattering of cameo appearances from other comics, and fans of Sherlock will love seeing Jonathan “Anderson” Aris on screen once more.

Tucked away in the facts and figures for the film is an interesting one. Sightseers marks the film debut of a talented young actress who has been making waves on stage, radio and television for quite some time. Salford based Rachel Austin has a small but pivotal role as bride to be Chailey Morris, who she tells TVO whilst in the middle of a train journey to the latest London-based screening of the film, is “just your average girl on her hen do, in a really dodgy looking restaurant with an even dodgier looking stripper!”

It’s only a few weeks since Rachel last attended a screening of the film, at Manchester’s prestigious Cornerhouse venue. When TVO talked to director Ben Wheatley and star Steve Oram that night, they sang her praises as a lovely young woman with a bright future ahead. This sentiment has been echoed by Alice Lowe too, who sends her love when she hears we’re talking to her. Despite only appearing in two scenes, it’s clear she made an impression on the cast and crew. Read the rest of this entry

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Interview: Richard Glover

THIS ARTICLE WAS WRITTEN IN NOVEMBER 2012 FOR THE VELVET ONION

© Rook Films / Big Talk / Studio Canal / Film 4

From the very first moments of The Velvet Onion, we have always championed what we dubbed “The Wider World Of Booshdom” – this mish-mash of collaborative creative types who had lit up our world with their unique blend of fun. One such name on our lists is one that Boosh fans will remember from his brief but memorable appearance in their third series, and those who come here for more than checking what Noel’s hair is doing this week will know that over the past decade, Richard Glover has been carving out an impressive body of work. Those lucky enough to have seen it, and particularly those lucky enough to have met him will also know, he’s bloody hilarious.

The man who, for some baffling reason currently has three separate profiles on imdb, is heading home to get ready for yet another screening of Sightseers, when TVO calls him up for a quick catch-up.  Oddly, it’s also our first chance to properly discuss his work despite featuring it on our pages for the last three years, and he answers the phone in the queue at The Co-Op, joyously welcoming us at the top of his voice in a cod American accent, before asking if we to call back in a few minutes. After a bit of a mishap with a bus (funny, considering he’ll be spending the evening at the British Transport Museum surrounded by the blighters for the Sightseers premiere), he’s free to chat, and it soon becomes clear to us that this particular interview is going to be a hoot.

“They keep going on!” he exclaims, when we mention the latest screening. “The London Film Festival was the gala screening, and I went to Cannes for the premiere there, which was very exciting. They had one last Thursday, which I couldn’t go to, and then this one tonight, which is being called the UK Premiere. I’m not sure what the difference is anymore, but it will be fun. I get to wear my suit again.”

TVO suggests the reason for so many screenings is because the film is a big deal. They’ve got a potentially bona-fide hit on their hands, and have even started putting trailers before some screenings of Skyfall. This fact, takes Glover aback. “Bloody hell, that’s a bit flash!” he states, before casually adding the magnificent phrase ‘cool bananas’. “It’s quite an amazing thing that’s happening, isn’t it, with this Sightseers malarky? It’s bloody wonderful.”

Richard is particularly happy that all of his is happening to his long-standing friends and cohorts, Alice Lowe and Steve Oram. “They’re good, old friends of mine, so it’s lovely seeing them doing so well,” he affirms, before adding with typical charm: “Alice is constantly getting her hair done beautifully.” Read the rest of this entry

Interview: Ben Wheatley & Steve Oram

THIS ARTICLE WAS WRITTEN IN NOVEMBER 2012 FOR THE VELVET ONION

© Cornerhouse Manchester / Paul Greenwood

There’s an old adage about Manchester. It’s been passed down the ages, and has often been reiterated by London types – chiefly, that it’s always raining here. Whilst it’s far from true, it does appear that whenever a TVO star or two makes a rare appearance in the city, it’s going to chuck it down.

Such is the case on Halloween, when a wet and windy night puts paid to trick or treaters and makes for a subdued number of fancy dress drinking bingers, already feeling the strain of the date falling on a Wednesday. Not that it matters a jot to the sell out crowd at Cornerhouse – the premiere arts cinema and gallery in town. A packed main house is geared up and ready to see a film that has defied expectations in the middle of a recession-fuelled dry spell for alternative comedy. Not only has Sightseers managed to be funded, filmed and released – but it looks set to be a critical, and hopefully commercial, smash into the bargain.

As the house doors are about to close, a ginger faced man (sans angry woman) arrives alongside a gruff-looking but charming grizzly bear of a gent, to be papped by the BFI photographer. As TVO chats idly with one of the film’s promoters and a Cornerhouse rep, it becomes clear that Sightseers is a big deal: Ben Wheatley is one of Britain’s shining directorial lights, and perhaps most intriguingly of all, Steve Oram is now a movie star.

© Cornerhouse Manchester / Paul Greenwood

A far cry, then, from the days of its lo-fi pilot, directed by Paul King with his typical flair, and fuelled by great performances from Oram and Alice Lowe, the latter of whom is sadly unable to be here tonight due to a heavy workload. Whilst the characters it contained had been honed after several years of stage work, and the pilot itself had a bleak, blackly comic style, it was nevertheless rejected by just about everyone for being a little too dark.

Yet once championed by Edgar Wright, and pushed onto the desk of his regular collaborator Nira Park, the film the pilot inspired is now on the cover of seminal cinema periodical Sight & Sound. As the movie begins, and TVO is shepherded into a side-room with Ben and Steve, we can’t help but remark how gloriously surprising it all is.
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Interview: Alice Lowe – Sightseeing

THIS ARTICLE WAS WRITTEN IN NOVEMBER 2012 FOR THE VELVET ONION

© Eamonn McCormack/Getty Images Europe

“It’s just mental.”

That’s how Alice Lowe describes her life right now: a heady concoction of filming multiple projects, attending film screenings, and cramming writing into the gaps in-between. Ever the workaholic, it seems Alice is in more demand than ever before.  TVO has been trying to arrange our latest catch-up with the lady we affectionately dub our ‘Fairy Godmother’ for quite some time, but Ms Lowe is suddenly one of the busiest people in the business.

Currently in the midst of shooting a second series of This Is Jinsy – Sky Atlantic’s crazed sitcom about an island populated by eccentrics – alongside further appearances in CBBC sensation Horrible Histories, and a part in a hugely anticipated film which we dare not reveal to you just yet, Alice is also attempting to write for radio (following her beloved Wunderland series earlier this year), and a motion picture of her own. Around all of this, she’s also making appearances in support of the reason we have arranged our telephonic catch-up today: her first feature film in her own right, Sightseers.

“You do sort of wonder how many more good dresses you can pull out of your wardrobe,” she deadpans, only half joking. “I might just turn up to the next one looking like Tina and go: ‘Hi, everyone. I’m not actually a film star. I don’t have the wardrobe for this.’”

Despite her modesty, which returns on a regular basis throughout our conversation, Alice is now a movie star – and a top billing one at that. Completely unfazed by my claims, she retorts: “Well, yeah, technically. I suppose. But I don’t feel like it.” Read the rest of this entry