There are few people in British film that work as hard as Noel Clarke, and following the recent release of Fast Girls - which he wrote - the versatile film maker is now the starring role in his upcoming feature Storage 24.
Hitting our screens this coming Friday - June 29 - and directed by Johannes Roberts, Storage 24 is a sci-fi thriller with Clarke playing Charlie - locked inside a storage warehouse alongside his best friend, ex-girlfriend, and a big, terrifying, human-eating alien.
Speaking to The Fan Carpet's Stefan Pape, Clarke discusses his reasons for not directing this particular feature, whilst also telling us of his joy at working alongside Roberts. The Kidulthood star also let's us into a little gossip about a potential sequel.
So you’ve chosen not to direct this one...
I've got a little production company now and I decided that the greed or ego of directing everything in the company would have meant that you get less done. It’s a very small company, there’s only three of us and we get partners for each project, if I directed this it takes me out for nine months. But if I write projects and get in other directors, we can do two or three films a year, potentially. We did Storage and The Knot, which is a wedding comedy which is coming out and I also did Fast Girls as well, I wrote it for Damian Jones who is a friend of mine after he produced Kidulthood and Adulthood, and I just thought I could improve the productivity of the company by stepping back and thinking, actually I don’t need to do everything and I can bring my protégées through. I've got some boys I've been teaching and mentoring and they’ve been stepping up and now they’ve got writing credits, bring them through, bringing other directors through, enabling us to all start moving forward as opposed to me going ‘right you lot aren’t doing nothing for the rest of the year cos I'm doing this’. So that’s essentially the plan.
Do you quite enjoy seeing a director’s own take on your script or do you feel quite protective over it sometimes?
Again that would be part of the ego and would only be disabling. It's beneficial to hire a guy that has a similar vision, when you meet a bunch of directors and you hire the director and then you let them do what they do, that’s their job you know.
You're obviously a collaborator then...
Yeah, but also it’s a learn thing, because when you first start you realize there aren’t roles for people like yourself and when you start controlling everything and learn actually its more beneficial to collaborate because then you get more done and more of you are powerful compared to one person trying to be this crazy lunatic doing everything.
As a man of many genres, what do you find yourself enjoying the most?
Well the interesting thing as a film fan, and this is what I try to explain to people, its now become apparent that I'm not the person who sticks to one thing. I'd rather be the guy who does 100 things well as opposed to the guy who does one thing brilliantly. You might do it brilliantly but you're boring and you do one thing and I feel that I need to dot around because as a film fan I like lots of different films, I don’t just like that kind of film, I like loads of different films. So as a film creator and maker myself I want to do all sort of different things. The next thing we have coming out is a rom-com in October called The Knot, it’s a wedding rom-com, and its Bridesmaids meets The Hangover just mushed into one.
Have you worked with any of the cast members before?
Yes, I had worked with Antonia (Campbell-Hughes) before who played Shelley, in a film called Liberation which I wrote.
Let's talk about the setting - those storage places are eerie, just these huge places with locked doors, and you really tapped into that as a setting, are you at all surprised that nobody had done that before?
Yeah kind of, because it seemed like a pretty obvious thing to do and I've been pitching this around for a long time. Initially it was a serial killer on the loose, which I now think was a bit stupid, but initially it was five people and a serial killer. It was about the time I was still doing Kidulthood and Adulthood and I thought about it being a gritty, real film about five people trapped in this place, but as I started doing more things, I thought an alien would be so much better. But I have wandered why no one else has done it because what you're trying to do with this film is to do what Jaws did for the beach. No one was scared of the beach until Jaws came along and now everyone’s scared of sharks. Everyone’s been able to drown at the beach, since time began, but now you think about sharks in one foot of water waiting for you.
So what was it about Johannes that when you met him made you think ‘this is the man I want to take on my script?'
He got it straight away, he got the vision, he got the humour, because even with Kidulthood you find yourself laughing at things and then wandering afterwards whether you should be laughing at it. He knew that it wasn’t a comedy, it's humour out of situations the people are in, he shared my vision. In F he made a school look like it was interesting and made that environment seem more than it was, almost like a character in itself. So when you are looking for a director to turn the blandest corridor with the same coloured door into a character, he was the guy of all the directors we met, and we got on really well and that was it.
The film ends on somewhat of a cliff-hanger, are we going to find out what's happening next then?
I don’t know, that depends on people supporting the film, the studio, it's now open for that. Now that we've seen it and thought about it, I know exactly what the plan is, I have the plan in my head for the sequel so the moment they tell me that they're interested I'll start writing it.
Are you encouraged by the fact that Attack the Block did well, as although very different, it also had naturalistic performers, a naturalistic script and a naturalistic set, yet was stuck within a surreal world with aliens in it.
They had eight times the budget than us. Weirdly with all due respect to it, it didn’t do that well, with no disrespect to it because I liked the film, I thought it would have done and deserved to do much better because it’s a good film. But to say yes would be wrong because I was thinking about this and writing this before I knew that film was even going to come out. As a film market in the UK we are trying to expand and broaden our horizons so it’s a shame that it didn’t really go boom because it deserved to do that and we need something like that to pop and open the flood gates so we can really start doing genre movies. Where;s our super hero movies? I’ve got one written on my laptop but you cant get it made. You could take the super powers out and we'll make it, but if you do that its just a guy beating people up! What good is that?
Storage 24 Film Page | Storage 24 Review | Noel Clarke Photos
STORAGE 24 IS OUT JUNE 29