Friday 13 May 2011

Attack The Blog - Day 5: Another Exclusive Interview With Joe Cornish!

No week of fawning free publicity for Attack The Block would be complete without a few words from its director Joe Cornish, and a few words from its director Joe Cornish is exactly what follows.

This was your first feature film as director. Was everyone mean to you on set, like that time I moved house and joined big school and got my head flushed down the bog?
No, everyone was really supportive. If anything, I was a bit shouty for the first few days, as I had a lot of pent up energy and anxiety inside me. Nira, the producer, had to take me aside and say "Joe, you know, the first assistant director can shout at the crew". I think if I'd carried on like I was carrying on everyone would have just fucked off and done something better with their day. Learning how to get the most out of the great talent and experience of your crew is one of the biggest and most rewarding lessons I learnt from the whole experience.

Edgar Wright was an executive producer on Attack the Block. What was his single most worthwhile contribution?
It would be reductive for me to single out one thing Edgar has done for me, because he’s done so much. He helped the film in every way possible. Being his friend and working with him has taught me a lot over the years, and although Attack the Block is very much its own thing, everything I learned from him is in there in one way or another.

Your film isn’t overburdened with CGI, motion capture or other in-your-face effects. Was this purely down to budgetary reasons, or do you feel strongly about how certain SFX should be employed?
I love practical effects. When I was a kid every effect I saw in movies was either a painting or a model or a puppet. It had been made by hand, and as a result you felt it was a magic you could achieve yourself if you tried hard enough. Perhaps the same is true for clever, computer literate people today, but for Attack the Block I wanted to evoke those old school, physical effects. So I went for practical monsters that were there on the set with the actors. I reckon that, where live action films are concerned and whenever possible, CGI is best used to enhance or adjust real physical in-camera things. That’s how we approached it.

Did you encounter any unwanted attention while hanging around the streets of Brixton in the middle of the night? I’m referring to the time you were shooting your film as opposed to just casual nocturnal wandering.
No, we didn’t. I wish I had an exciting story to tell you but the residents, police and councils on whose patches we shot were nothing but welcoming, accommodating and tolerant. Apart from one woman who marched onto the set while we were shooting the police van sequence and shouted "why don’t you take your tuppence ha’penny film and fuck off!". But I’ll gloss over that.

What do you make of all this fuss about Attack The Block needing subtitles in certain (English-speaking) foreign markets (called America)?
I liked it because it meant people were talking about the film and that they cared about the film. I don’t think it’ll happen though. I think everyone’s smart enough to deal with the way the characters speak. The slang is a fun strength to the movie, not an obstacle.
Tom Townend told me that the alien effects were created very simply, by using real aliens. Is that true? Because if so that’s quite a significant scientific breakthrough and I’m surprised you’ve kept it so quiet.
Tom Townend is an extremely talented and intelligent man who would not waste The Incredible Suit’s time with idle nonsense or frippery.

Given the title of your film, are you concerned that there might be a rise in unprovoked attacks on innocent blocks?
You sound very distant all of a sudden. Can you hold the handset closer to your mouth?

It seems to me that along with Chris Morris, Edgar Wright, Garth Jennings, Duncan Jones, Gareth Edwards, Richard Ayoade and some others I’ve forgotten, you’re creating a bit of a “movement”. Do you feel like there’s something going on right now with hip young British director types?
I really don’t know why some glossy mag doesn’t hurry up and do a sexy photo shoot of us all looking bored, sitting on rusty oil barrels in a disused garage in the east end. It's only a matter of time.
I asked lots of people who worked on the film for juicy gossip from the production with which to annoy and/or blackmail you, but they both failed miserably, so it’s down to you to tell me about something that happened that you don’t want anyone to know about. Go!
Maybe I should call you back on your land line?

Already people will be dying to know what your difficult second film will be. I know you won’t want to talk about it but you can tell me, I won’t tell anyone, promise.
Hello, can you hear me?

This month, blogs around the world are reviewing You Only Live Twice for The Incredible Suit’s future award-winning BlogalongaBond initiative. What are your thoughts on the fifth Bond film?
I like it. But I haven’t seen it for a while. Get in touch when it’s The Man With The Golden Gun time.

I’m planning on starting a rumour that you’re directing the next-but-one Bond film. Would you care to neither confirm nor deny that you’ve been offered the job?
Hey, don't joke about stuff like that.

If you do direct a Bond film and you need someone to play the handsome, charismatic blogger that the series has so far sorely lacked, you know who to call. (I’m referring to myself. Not sure if that was obvious)
When you came to the Attack The Block press junket, I was secretly auditioning you for the role. As I’m sure you’ll understand, it’s important that Bond looks tough and confident, rather than gentle and a bit nervous, and on that basis I’m afraid we can’t offer you the role at this time.

Well, that’s all we’ve got time for. Have you got any final golden nuggets of witty genius you’d like to share before we say goodbye?
You should really upgrade your mobile phone. What network are you on? You should get onto one with better coverage, because I kept losing you. Oh, and thank you for supporting Attack The Block, I’m very happy that you enjoyed the film. Long live The Incredible Suit!

I conducted this interview via email, so I'm not sure why he kept banging on about the phone connection. Anyone would think some of my questions were completely fatuous and stupid.

Anyway, massive thanks to Joe for all that, and also to Tom Townend, Jon Amos, Marcus Rowland, Luke Treadaway, Jodie Whittaker, Leeon Jones, Alex Esmail, Simon Howard, John Boyega, Franz Drameh and Nick Frost and everyone at Optimum and ThinkJam for all their time and help, without which this week would have been full of more whining about X-Men: First Class posters. The Incredible Suit's viewers are no doubt at least grateful for that.


  1. Ha! "Gentle and a bit nervous".

  2. I saw that too.....that's exactly how I prefer my lovers, too

  3. Thanks to this highly informative interview with Joe Cornish I now know that he shares with Quentin Tarantino a love of traditional film special effects. George Clooney as director of 'Confessions of a Dangerous Mind' (2002) used in camera effects too. For instance there is one single shot in which the camera tracks in to a big close up and the actor's clothes are all changed and the camera and actor rotate 180 degrees after which the camera tracks out to reveal the actor in fresh clothes in a new location.

    The most amazing revelation of the interview was that the Aliens look so real because Joe had the inspired idea of employing real Aliens to join his cast. It seems obvious now and one wonders why it has not been done before. It often takes a real genius to hit upon the simplest of solutions that have not been spotted before.

    I will now make you squirm in agony.

    Attack the Block - A Clockwork Orange meets Aliens.

  4. Marge Gunderson/Songwarmonger13 May 2011 at 19:58

    Lovely. I'm looking forward to the Vanity Fair fold out cover of the new blood directors ;D It's not too far fetched!

  5. gentle? aw sweet

  6. This week's posts have been really enjoyable reads. With the exception of Blogger shitting out its brains all day and so delaying this final post, I've checked the blog out first thing every morning. Insightful stuff and just generally good work, sir.

    Can we have that "Shit Posters Are Shit" week next, for when X-Men: First Class comes out?

  7. Thanks for your words of encouragement Mark. Rest assured normal bog-standard service will be resumed next week.