Song For Marion was chosen to close the 2012 Toronto Film Festival and is now getting a cinematic release here in Australia. I had a quick chat with British director Paul Andrew Williams about his film…
Matt: I believe this story is a personal one for you. Is it based on something in your own life? Can you tell us how this story came about?
Paul: It’s personal to me in lots of different ways. It’s not necessarily the whole story but there are elements that relate to my grandparents and observing the way they dealt with cancer – the love of a different generation is much stronger and determined and respectful. That’s what really made me want to tell the story. The idea of a choir was something that would bring an old man out of his shell.
Matt: With the success of films like The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel there seems to be a sudden interest by studios in projects that look at the lives of the elderly and they’re targeted at the same demographic. Do you think there’s a void in that area?
Paul: I actually wrote this film 6 years ago when I’d never heard of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and Quartet. For me, it’s about a family. Yes, the central characters are of a certain age but I wasn’t really thinking about what audiences are looking for at the moment. If I can make a film and people go and see it, I’ll be happy.
Matt: You mentioned that you wrote the script 6 years ago. Was it difficult to find financiers to help get it off the ground?
Paul: There were lots of difficulties. There were times too when I was busy. I wrote it just before I started another project. There were a number of reasons why it took a little longer to come to fruition. That’s just the world of film.
Matt: You’ve got a quality cast here headlined by Terrence Stamp and Oscar winner Vanessa Redgrave. How did you get your script in front of their noses?
Paul: The script when to Terrence via someone else and I didn’t realise it had even gone to him. The fact that he read it and both he and Vanessa really wanted to do it was great.
Matt: There’s a large group who make up the choir that we see in the film. Are they actors or do they form part of an actual choir?
Paul: There were some actors but the majority were just from local choirs in the area. We tried to find people who just enjoyed singing as opposed to those who were great singers or great actors. We just wanted real people who could string a tune together.
Matt: It’s an interesting group of songs that you’ve picked for the choir to sing. Was that your choosing or did they have a little input to the songs?
Paul: It was always the idea that they would sing more unconventional choir songs. That said, these were the sort of songs that we saw choirs singing when we were auditioning.
Matt: The film screened at the Toronto Film Festival. Is that right?
Paul: Yeah. It was chosen to close the Festival so we were very fortunate.
Matt: I went there a couple of years ago and I remember it being such a busy, insane place. What was the experience like for you in Toronto?
Paul: It’s the second time I’ve been there with a film. The first time was with my first film and no one had heard of me. It was actually more hectic then because so many people wanted to meet me and offer to represent me. This time, we went for a few days and we got to enjoy it a little bit more. Closing the Festival and having a film that the audience really liked… we were really lucky.
Interview - Talking To Director Paul Andrew Williams
- Written by Matthew Toomey