This week, our hosts Giles Alderson and Lucinda Rhodes Thakrar chatted to Repeat’s writer-director Richard Miller and lead actors Charlotte Ritchie & Tom England.

Richard said that Repeat couldn’t have happened without “real team cooperation, this film had a really small budget, and if we had one less crew member, one less person involved, we just wouldn’t have been able to create it, so that’s a credit to everybody involved.”

Richard’s Filmmaking Journey

Growing up, “I loved films. I literally recorded everything from the TV when I was a kid. But, it was never the sort of thing that you could go and do. It just wasn’t in my sphere of knowledge.”

After seeing 28 Days Later, Richard chatted to some friends about trying to make their own short films. And after winning a few awards in 24/48 hr festivals, they made Neville Rumble in 2012. 

“It was a very small film, but it was a good exercise in learning how to make a film, and how not to make a film.”

Starting Repeat

Richard said that for him it was vital that he had Laura to bounce ideas off. It was great to have a sounding board “to just ask questions to and we’d just bounce ideas between each other.”

His technique is to “sit down and see how far I get before I get stuck on a script. I don’t think about the future, I may create scenes on a board and then put them together after that. But, I don’t think it would have worked for Repeat because of how it evolved.”

Finding the Right Actors

“I’d seen Tom in the Cosmos trailer, and straight away, I thought he was striking. He looked like a leading man.”

Tom was in the US for the premiere, but as soon as he got back, Richard arranged a meeting with him to find out whether he was interested in the film.

“The script, at that time, was very thin and didn’t have some of the motivations for the characters. And that’s what Tom brought to the party. Tom’s a writer, as well” and so he helped with finding “his character’s motivation. I brought the structure and he brought the idea of what that character was thinking. Working with actors who are writers really helps to move the narrative on.”

Turning His Home Into A Film Set

Most of the film was shot in Richard’s house. ”We live in a decent-sized property, with some extra rooms, so we literally changed every room that we could into the set.”

Because of the pandemic, and everything being locked down, they thought of the most efficient way of shooting in limited locations.

“It was just a case of anything that we didn’t need to move around was going to save us time. So we just redecorated the house.”

Living on a Film Set and Having Down Time

“I didn’t have any downtime that’s for sure. Everybody stayed with us because we were having to create a bubble for COVID.”

He said that in the future, when there is more budget, he’d definitely make sure that he had a break from being a director, in order to let his brain switch off.”

“You don’t get to process things, and I think if you’re constantly looking ahead of you, you don’t realise what you’ve achieved, because you can’t see what you’ve done to get to this point. And sometimes it is about just taking stock.” 

Acting After COVID

Giles asked Tom and Charlotte if they remembered how they felt after being near people on set again after COVID.

Tom said that for him it was “a really welcome break.” And Charlotte said that it was “otherworldly. It was a really special experience. I was so nervous leading up to it but it was just amazing from the beginning. It was a wonderful experience.”

What do they want in a director?

Charlotte says that, for her, “it really depends on the project and is personal to each actor. Personally, I like a mix of hands-off and hands-on, in terms of guidance.

Being left to formulate your own opinions and feelings about a character – so that it becomes personal to you and you feel like you have autonomy over it, but also being there to tell you when you’ve done a bad take and you need to go again. It’s a tough balance.”

Tom responds “to honesty. I just love a creative process, where you’re collaborating with people and you’re solving a puzzle.”

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