Bunny and the Bull Round Table Q&A | The Fan Carpet Ltd • The Fan Carpet: The RED Carpet for FANS • The Fan Carpet: Fansites Network • The Fan Carpet: Slate • The Fan Carpet: Theatre Spotlight • The Fan Carpet: Arena • The Fan Carpet: International

Bunny and the Bull Round Table Q&A

Bunny and the Bull
23 November 2009

In attendance: Paul King (director), Simon Farnaby, Ed Hogg.  Paul King is alone for the first 10 minutes, the others join later.

Q:  Everywhere the film is mentioned, The Mighty Boosh is mentioned and also that this would be like The Mighty Boosh film.

Paul King: Yeah, that’s not true.


Q:  Well, it’s not true, I was wondering if you felt frustrated by that?

PK:  Yeah it’s weird isn’t it?  Yeah, um, it’s annoying that it’s wrong but obviously at the same time, a lot of people like the Mighty Boosh or at least some people do and people who like that might like this, but yeah it is a bit annoying if people go, “Oh it’s the Mighty Boosh movie” and you’re going, oh it really isn’t, it’s no more that that Shaun Of The Dead was Spaced: The Movie, or even less so, at least one of the writers of that was writing that so it really is a film that they (Noel Fielding and Julian Barratt) happen to be in by their director and that’s it.  I think people know what “The director of” means, I think they think that’ll it’s not the same project but it might be a bit similar but yeah, it’s weird.  And obviously people are going to say it because I’m not famous. It’s not like they’re going say, “oh, it’s the latest Spike Jonze movie”, you’ve got to say, “This is why you might be interested in reading about this film”.  It’s a nice thing to be attached to because it’s something I’m really proud of but it is a bit odd, yeah. 

And some people are a bit angry because it’s not The Mighty Boosh: The Film It wasn’t as strange as that – well all right, I’m sorry!  I think the problem is that it makes false expectations.  The good side is people who like it might come along and the downside is that they then might expect men made out of bubblegum and videotape and the more surreal angle.  And this has really just got some strange visual backdrops but it’s set in someone’s memory but it’s a much more naturalistic story.  It’s not about wannabe pop stars living in Camden, it’s really different.  I think probably because there are that many things that look at all like this, it tends to get lumped in with it and they go, “Oh, it’s a bit like Science of Sleep or er…Terry Gilliam”.  Which Terry Gilliam?  I don’t think it’s like any of them but that’s because you’re an oddball, you get put with that group…which I want to be in, but it’s good and bad.


Q: Where did the visual style come from?

PK:  I suppose it’s something I’ve been trying to get to for a while.  It’s really where it took off from The Boosh.  With The Boosh, we got as far as back projection and that was literally a practical response to the question of how could we shoot a scene on a boat in a studio.  And we already had the discipline of shooting in a studio, are we suddenly going to go out into the real world?  Are we going to flood the studio?  It’s not really going to work and it was just a way that we could get away with doing it and I started to really like that and it’s built up from there.  But I’ve always wanted to do something with stop-frame animation and models and the kind of Ray Harryhausen school of special effects.  This always feels really wacky, but you feel like one of those people who says, “I hate CGI” but actually I fucking love CGI.  District 9 is probably my film of the year; used well it’s great. But not many people sit around going, “Oh, I love CGI!”, but you do get, “I love stop-frame”.  And I really like the low-fi thing.

My favourite scene is the bull at the end.  And my favourite thing about that sequence is, I love the bull, he’s made of cutlery and he’s got a steam iron for a nose and I’m really pleased about that, but you watch people sitting there and they go, “mhmm, right ok” and you cut to this bullfight and then when you cut to this real bull and they’re like, “er, what, er, no!” and I really like that.  When it works, I think reality seems odd and I really like that you can take people on that journey.  Some things you see can seem a bit wilfully obscure and I wanted it to have more of a meaning.  You see all of the things in the in the flat which inform why the landscapes are how they are how they and you know he’s in a Happy Meal box and it looks like that and it’s really simplistic and it gets a lot more weird and complicated and fragmented and hopefully there’s a bit of discipline to it that makes it not just, “hey we made a…spaghetti world”.


Q: Did you have an idea of the set design before you worked on the story?

PK:  I started with boring postcards and the Martin Parr postcards I was big fan of.  That and Paddington Bear were the only two real real references where I wanted it to make it look like them. So when we went out and took the photos of the museums, it was very much like that, I wanted to make it as flat and boring as possible.  And I thought it’d that would be good because you remember trips in mementos and anecdotes and little unreal…well I can’t remember everything of what happens on holiday and you sort of go…I’m trying to think where I’ve been.  France, I was in France last year and people asked what it was like and I say, “Oh it was great.  It was great weather and we got a scooter and went into the mountains” and you’ve got these two little stories but it’s probably about two hours of your holiday, you don’t go, “Oh yeah, then I had a filthy argument with that waiter.  Oh actually, I got bitten by midges the whole time.”  You sort of make that anecdote and I sort of got into the idea of making different bits of the world like different things and then it was quite a lot of work.  Weirdly, it was quite a lot of work trying to find things that hadn’t been done and I’d go, “oh yeah, I really want to do that” and then it turns out that there that Comet advert that’s a bit like that – normally really dodgy adverts, and you start thinking, “oh shit, is this going to look like MoneySupermarket.com” which is not where I was going visually.  So I was trying to really original things and the design was really helpful with that.


Q: Did it take a long time to build it all?

PK:  It took an insanely long time. The newspaper model was enormous, it was about 7 metres long, big, big model.  They spent about 6 weeks building it.  The nicest thing about making the film…well with all the stress and aggro, I didn’t have a haircut for about six months and stank and put on weight and was like “I’m only thinking about myself and my pain” and then you think, “fucking hell, look at what all these people are doing”.  We had these volunteers from the Nottingham Arts School who were helping the art department and they were so kind because we had no money, so we asked if they wanted to help out, but they got really into building this model, really into it, working quite obsessively.  And there was about 15 of them working 15 hour days and we didn’t even buy them lunch; you feel so shitty just going, “Thanks for the seven hours you’ve just put in, can you go and buy yourself a sandwich and get back here in 20 minutes?”.  It’s the most exploitative thing.  But it was so many hours, just thousands of hours and stop-frame’s a really beautiful thing to watch, because you see it at the end and you feel like it’s an achievement and sometimes with things that come out of the computer, you don’t see the graft, even though there’s just as much, but you can’t see the thumb prints on it and I like that for this kind of film.


Q:  You mentioned a story about Simon Farnaby’s granddad at a screening the other day, would you mind telling us a bit more about that?

PK:  Well, Simon’s coming in in a minute so he’ll doubtless correct me if I’m wrong but yeah, but I think it’s hard to write characters like that, because, I’d better not say this in front of him, but his character is basically a bit of a shitter, you know, he’s really selfish and the guy he’s with hasn’t noticed yet.  Simon’s granddad was a massive gambling addict slash alcoholic and I sort of raided his life a lot.  In the later years of his life, he wasn’t allowed to drink but he still managed to get drunk and nobody quite knew how he did it and just assumed that he had a little stash somewhere and when he died, they were clearing out his room and behind his wardrobe, they found a fake panel, I swear this is true and he’d hollowed out this like Shawshank style tunnel to the pub next door.  And he had an agreement with the landlord, that after lunch, granddad would go for his little nap and wakes up in his own boozy night, just necking pints of ale.  And the last scene in the film where Simon’s character gets him to put a bet on a horse is also from his granddad.  Simon was brought to his granddad’s deathbed and he was like “come here son, come closer” and he came closer and he thought that he was going to be told some kind of profound life lesson and he said “there’s a horse running in the ten past three” and he pulled out this fiver, and he hadn’t been out for ages, everyone thought he was broke and he’d kept this aside.  And I asked Simon what happened to the horse and he said, “Oh, it fell at the first fence”.  I really like the idea of someone who’s that sort of…he sounds fun, you go “oh that guy sounds like a fun guy to hang out with”, but I bet if you did, you’d be going, “Where’s that 20 quid that was in my wallet and why are you pissed and actually your health and your kids are fucked”, and it’s one of those people that sounds fun but is really deeply damaged.  And it’s nice that it comes from somewhere that’s true to Simon as well.  It made the casting a lot easier because if I hadn’t used him, he would have literally dismembered me.  “You know that story you told me, can I stick that in” and he was just going, “Yeah, I better get a part in this”.  He’ll tell you it’s all down to talent, but that’s just not true.


Q:  Was there ever a suggestion that Julian and Noel would play the two leads?

<Simon Flanagan and Ed Hogg walk in>

PK:  Not from us at all.  I don’t think it would work really.  I can see the similarity but how would Julian play…would Julian play your charismatic drunken character?

Simon Flanagan:  Noel is never going to play the nerd who wears rucksacks who has no luck with women because he’s not that good an actor.  <laughs>

Ed Hogg:  I think that just comes from the long hair doesn’t it?

PK:  Yeah, the long 70s hair. And I guess it’s because it comes from the director of The Mighty Boosh, it springs to mind but I hope that if you didn’t know that you wouldn’t think…

SF:  We’ve worked together before…

PK:  Yeah, I introduced Simon to them and now people are going, “Simon Farnaby from The Mighty Boosh” and I’m thinking, “hang on a minute, he’s from my background, he’s my secret weapon!”

SF:  We’ve done theatre shows and sketches with them… 

PK: It’s flattering that people think that.

SF:  Julian’s an incredible actor. He just doesn’t have my range.  <Laughter>

PK:  And given that it’s based on your life, you’d get a bit annoyed.  Couldn’t Julian have your life?

SF:  You can’t have mine!

PK:  I’m using someone else’s in the next film.  Julian was in a jazz funk band called Groove Solution.


PK:  Next time, I’m going to make a movie using his life and see how he likes it.  You can play the lead singer in Groove Solution.  I think people will get over that once…I guess it’s because they’re famous and you put the famous people in the lead parts but also on a purely practical part, they’re going to write their film, it’s going to be amazing and I hope to work on it and I’m sure you do too and it’ll be great, but this isn’t that and in a way it’s good to distance it a little bit and I don’t think they’d want to play a different double act in somebody else’s film, I think that would be a bad decision for them.  Especially, they’d go, “Why are you writing this, why aren’t we writing this?” and I’d be like, “you’re right, get on with it!”


Q:  Is there a Boosh film in the pipeline then?

PK:  Yeah, they’re writing.  They’ve just got their second book out and they’re recording an album and I think they’re going to do more festivals next year maybe, it’s so hard to tell, they’ve got so many things that are really fun to do , I think it’s hard for them to sit down and graft away at it.  Because it’s a big write, so I think they’ll probably do it next year. 

SF:  They’ve probably got it written down on some beer mats.

PK:  I’ve spent so many of the last four years going, “Have you fellas written that episode yet?” “Yeah, yeah, it’s on the way, it’s coming, don’t worry about it”.  “Yeah, well, where is it because we film on Tuesday?”  “We’ve come up with this picture of a man in a sheep’s head” “Right, we’ll get the storyboards done…”

SF:  “Scene four got wet and we’ve forgotten how it went…”


Q: We’ve touched on back projections and model work.  How did you find that to work with as directors and actors?

SF:  It’s the same sort of acting as normal acting is the answer…

PK:  This “acting” that you’re doing is whoaaaa….

SF:  I think me and Ed have done theatre as well and it’s the same sort of thing.  You’re acting in a strange environment.

EH:  It wasn’t like we were acting to a green screen either; you could see what you were acting against.  The sets were built or you were acting against a projection screen, so you could see where you were meant to be.

PK:  Is it harder to lose yourself?  Ed, I suppose you got a bit more of that.

EH:  It didn’t apply in the flat.  You could shoot off so easily.

PK:  Well we could only afford one wall.

EH:  Yeah, you were acting in an area,

SF:  Yeah, you couldn’t move.

PK: Don’t move your head!


SF: There’s a man behind you with a torch!

PK:  Isn’t it more off putting having a camera crew there, all 12 of them, just staring at you, big men in shorts.  That’s more creepy than any background isn’t it?

SF:  Yeah, that’s true and that happens normally on things.  It’s fine.  I think one of the good things about the film is that the story isn’t surreal; it’s just about two friends.

PK: We sort of have this idea about how the memories work.  The more extreme scenes are like when you go, “oh we met this mad dog tramp man” and that can be quite exaggerated but the core of the…I mean you’re friends, so you probably tend to think in more normal terms than the mad tramp that accosted you on the night bus.  And so you know, we sort of tried to that with the performance, so you two are pretty naturalistic.  Other people get more extreme.

I’ve always wanted to know that, do you mind?

SF:  Are you asking the questions now?

PK:  Yeah.  Well I’m in Garth Marenghi’s Dark Place and I’m such a shit actor that I was always glancing at the camera which is fine in that, but do you lose yourself at all or are you always thinking, I’ve got to remember this line, or are you trying to be yourself?


SF:  Erm…I think you…

PK:  And is it different when you’re trying to be funny?

SF:  No, I don’t think there is a “trying to be funny” acting, is there?  I don’t know.

PK:  But when you’re improvising, you’re trying to think of funny lines.

SF:  Yeah.  True.  But I think you just get… that’s what rehearsals are for – to get all that uncomfortable-ness out of the way.  “I don’t like this.  Why is he there?!” And if stuff puts you off or doesn’t feel right or a line doesn’t feel right, you can play with it till you get the thing that feels right and then you just repeat it like a robot…


PK: You feel like a robot?  That can be one of your award speeches.

SF:  I imagine what it’s like the be a robot.  That’s obviously tongue in cheek but…what do you think Ed?  You’re an actor, you’re a proper actor.

EH:  I think you do lose yourself sometimes. 

PK:  In the flat, it felt like you did a lot more.  When you’re with other people, I guess you’ve got to give them the right line, but if you’re on your own you can…

EH:  I think it is harder being funny.  I think if you’re aware of trying to be funny.

PK:  It’s what you’re used to isn’t it.  There’s this great scene where Ed has to cry at the end and the crew and quite shouty men generally aren’t they?  And it was really hard to light this scene and we said to Ed, “We’ll be ready in about 10 minutes, go and think about your puppy that’s just died.” He was getting ready and it was about two hours of you just thinking the most miserable thoughts and there was this big bloke going, “Oi, can we get a fuckin’ move on? We’ve got an actor wellin’ up over here!” And he’s standing about three feet away.  Well I’m not welling up now am I?

EH:  That’s just normal for a film set.  There’s plenty of distractions if you allow yourself to be distracted.

PK:  Yeah, you’re trying to think about your granny and then there’s “do you want a cup of tea Ed?”

EH:  What was that?  “Do you want a wee Simon? Are you sure?”

SF: There was a runner, bless him, who led us into the studio.  I think I was in my bullfighting outfit and looking at it, he thought it was hard to go to the toilet, so he said “Ready to go?” and I said, yep and he said, “Would you like a wee wee?” And wee wee…not… and I went “Um. No”.  “I thought it might be hard to go for a wee wee later, so I thought you might want a wee wee now”



Q: Was he right, did you need a wee later?

SF: Er, yeah he was right actually…


SF: Yeah, that was the scene where I wet myself.


Q:  Ed, you’re really great at playing these characters which are on the edge of sanity. 



Q:  I saw you as Jesco White in White Lightning as well – where does that inspiration come from?  Or are you just…deranged?

EH:  I think, talking about this earlier with Simon. It’s in the script…it’s…

PK:  Oh come off it, a lot of it comes from you.

EH: I think I understand the basic emotions of being really angry or being really happy or upset and I think that’s the basis of any character.  As long as you know a way of getting into those emotions, you can play any character as long as they resemble you.

PK:  We pinched quite a few things from your own personal textbook of neuroses.

EH:  I am quite neurotic.  For instance…there’s one there.  <Points at a wall socket>.  If that wasn’t plugged in, I’d have to turn those off because I would think that electricity was escaping into the air.

PK:  I’ve never written anything for anyone I didn’t already know.  Maybe a line or two, when you write something and they say it and it sounds good but it’s quite weird casting.  It’s not finding the right actor; all actors can play the part.  It’s finding the one who makes it come to then.

EH: They say that parts pick the actor, rather than the actor picking the parts.  I think that is true.  Especially when you’re starting out in film; you don’t get to pick and choose, you don’t get to go “I’d like to do that, that’s the part I’m going to hold out for”, you just hope that somebody writes a film like Bunny And The Bull and you’re the kind of bloke that goes <clears throat> and then you get that part because you’re quite similar to that character.

PK:  But I think you guys massively informed the characters.  It’s not how I imagined it when I was writing at all.  Bunny was originally a posh guy and then I started raiding your life a lot more.  We did a lot of castings in pairs as well and we had different teams of people doing different scenes and they were all really good actors, they were all like completely different movies.  It was the most important decision bar everything else and it’s quite weird going, oh if I know if I gave it to you, then I’d get that sort of Steven.  Is that the kind of Steven I wanted?  It’s not quite what I wanted in my head, but I like it and I can make it better I think.


Q:  So you knew each other beforehand, but you didn’t write for them?

PK:  I knew Simon and the first draft I didn’t write with him in mind.

EH:  Wasn’t Steven more Simon?

PK:  In the very first draft he was.  But in the second draft, you were very quickly becoming Bunny.  Like the gambling was coming in…and that bit where you got your cock out all the time…

SF: The drinking…

PK:  I didn’t know Ed at all till auditions and we wrote a lot after the casting.  We did rehearsals and then did another draft on the script to make it fit.

EH:  And with Veronica [Echegui] as well.

PK:  That all changed.  Not the story so much.


Q:  Was it hard to take these very real elements of yourselves and put them in these very surreal settings?  These almost, theatrical sets as well – was it strange to parade them in that way?

PK:  I think not for me because we’re sort of used to theatres and I didn’t go to film school, don’t understand how cameras work.


Q:  Was it hard to stop it lurching more towards theatre.

PK:  I don’t know.  I think it is what it is really.  It’s like a…train. That’s the worst metaphor ever.  Well it is like one of those things where you’ve got a couple of ideas and you don’t get to see whether it works until it’s finished and especially something like this where it’s not about ordinary scenes and certainly the backdrops aren’t that ordinary.  So you can’t say that you’ve pinched the beats of Titanic and made it about a railway accident.  You sort of go, it’s going to be a bit alienating having the sets.  Should I really draw attention to that or should I try and shoot it like naturalistic dialogue.  Should we perform much more theatrically or do we keep in naturalist.  We just hope that it works.  You have to let go as well.

SF:  When you’re acting in that environment, you just trust your director and you trust Paul knows what he’s doing.   Are we doing it right? Yep.  Does it look ok?  Yep.  Well ok then,  That’s the same in anything I think.

PK:  But you forget the set very quickly don’t you?

EH:  A lot of people were kind of wandering around going, “oh my god, this set’s made out of milk bottles” and it was extraordinary to see, the first time you walk on set, you kind of go wow, this looks incredible.

PK: Theoretically, a set made out of bottles of your own urine.  I mean, no one’s acted in that before.  Literally a wall of piss.

EH:  It’s just like acting on a normal set really.


Q:  Can you tell us about Veronica?

PK:  We loved Veronica. She was really late again and I really liked all these Jim Jarmusch films where he has these crazy foreign characters.  Again, it was, how exaggerated do I want to be.  Do I have all these people doing funny accents in the film?  So the only thing I got prissy about was that I must have a real Spanish girl.  We had really funny British actresses but I wanted it to be real.  We got so much out of her being terrible at English.  She was actually really good; we always tried to make her much worse than she was. But she did come out with some terribly embarrassing things.  All that imaginary friend stuff came completely from her – that’s probably the part that was most re-written.  And she was just so funny in her second language, like properly funny insults and…Christ.

SF:  I remember when she came up with the line about, “I hope your mother explodes with a terrible period.”

PK:  That was one of the most awkward moments.

SF:  “Er…what is this, a saying from Spain?” “Yes, you’ve never heard of this?”

PK:  And the thing in the car when…actually it’s terribly racist when we were going, “You must have some good luck stories, you crazy Spanish people” like they’re some kind of lost Amazonian tribe.  So she was going, “Well if a cat comes by and you stand on him, you must spit on him”.  So…you’ve already trodden on the cat and you’ve got to re-double and gob on him?  What is wrong with these people?

SF:  “Well, how many cats do people stand on?”  “There’s quite a lot of stray cats in Spain” “That’s true…there are quite a few”.   You don’t go round standing on them.  Cats are pretty agile; I think they’d get out of the way.

PK:  You can stand on cats; I’ve trodden on a cat, my cats. 

SF:  Yeah, that’s because you’ve got a house full of them.

PK:  Only three. In my one-bedroom flat.


SF:  You’re going to stand on them more often now aren’t you?