Exclusive: RT Visits the Set of Franklyn
We step into Meanwhile City with stars Eva Green, Ryan Phillippe and Sam Riley.
Rotten Tomatoes was treated to a first look at some pre-CG footage shot the previous evening, on location at the Greenwich Naval College. It shows Ryan Phillippe's masked Jonathan Preest (he's an atheist called Preest, oh the irony!) walking the streets amidst the strangely dressed denizens of Meanwhile City as they practice their odd religions. Think Mirrormask meets The Matrix, though the crew are quietly confident the film's success will more resemble the latter. And, of course, McMorrow is hoping Franklyn won't be as easy to pigeonhole as that. "It's hard because we don't want to tell people to expect The Matrix from it; they'll probably be disappointed if they do."
As the crew get ready for another take, McMorrow explains what they're up to today: "We're shooting Sam and Eva together... and we're vaguely getting into the realms of giving something away, because Eva plays two roles in this film. You're seeing Milo seeing her in her alter-ego. This is the climax of the film." We're not getting any less confused...
Such complexity is a risk for the film, but the director will be hoping its stellar cast and production team will help the film reach an audience. And it's being produced by Jeremy Thomas who can claim Fast Food Nation, The Dreamers and Naked Lunch as his own. More importantly, while it may be McMorrow's debut feature, his 2002 short Thespian X, about an actor in the distant future queuing up to sign on for benefits, proves that this is a man who can handle high concept. The film may not be easily surmised in a sentence, but when has that ever been the case with intelligent sci-fi/fantasy movies?
"It's complicated, but ultimately I think once you see it it'll make sense," says McMorrow. "I don't want to make it inaccessible. There's a whole generation of us who grew up with movies like Star Wars, and a new generation growing up with The Matrix. I certainly explored the more traditional side of Hollywood, but my thing was I always wanted to make a movie that had a similar effect on its audience as those movies. It wasn't just enough to watch it; I'd look back at the audience watching it. The film may be ambitious - it's not really something done independently and certainly not independently in Britain - but I think it can be done, and I'm hoping I'll be able to do it."
"It's been great that this is a British movie," adds Riley, "because it's hard enough to get funding for any movie in this country, let alone something like this. It's the sort of project that could sink or swim - particularly with its twisty ending - but the script is so fantastic and Gerald knows exactly what he's after. I think we all feel we're in safe hands with him."
We've got a good few months of post production still to go, and then the film will be looking for a distributor, but you can probably expect to see Franklyn on the big screen next year. As far as we're concerned, the line for tickets starts right here.