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Fiona Gillies talks about working with National Treasure Tom Conti

City Slacker
29 September 2012

As Raindance Film Festival is now under way in London, The Fan Carpet‘s Stefan Pape went to a special preview screening of City Slacker – a film nominated for Best British Feature – and was fortunate enough to catch up with starring role Fiona Gillies following the event.

Gillies plays Amanda, a successful businesswoman who is the lookout for a new boyfriend – but specifically a slacker, someone she can rely on to stay at home and look after the new born baby she is desperate to have, before she reaches an age where she is no longer able too.

Gillies discusses her role as producer on the film as well as lead star, and what it’s like working alongside her husband and writer for the film Michael Müller. She also tells us of her experience working alongside Oscar-nominated Tom Conti, who plays her father in the movie.



So when did you first become involved in this feature?

I’d been working closely with Michael for a long time, and he wrote Dummy which was a feature a few years back which I executively produced and that was also selected at Raindance – and we made short films and various things like that, often he I edit his scripts too.


So what was it about City Slacker that made you decide you wanted to get involved?

I suppose it comes from necessity really, you just think as writers and actors, out of the scripts that we’ve got, which can we push and which are going to get made? You start working out which you could cast well, which you could be in yourself and so on. So it’s practicality really.


There seems to have been a bit of a gap between this project and your last, has that been a conscious decision?

I tell you what I’ve done, is the last few years I’ve been doing just theatre in town. I recently played Jeff Goldblum’s sister in a Neil Simon play in the West End, and I’ve even played Gertrude in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead. I hadn’t done theatre for years and I had the opportunity to do those, so that’s why there’s been a gap in screen work as I’ve doing that. But also I’ve been working on this pretty solidly now for a long time, we finished filming on location just under a year ago.


Is it quite nice to get back in front of a camera, where you haven’t got that intense, daily pressure of being on stage in front of a live audience?

I suppose the good thing about this industry – or the lovely thing about my position – is that you do a bit of this and a bit of this and a bit of that, you aren’t stuck in the same thing the whole time. It’s nice to go from filming to a bit of theatre, to producing and then back to acting. It’s quite nice.


How was it producing the film with your husband Michael? As he just said you’re still together so something must have worked!

[Laughs] Yeah amazing isn’t it? Actually it was quite good because you have the joint aim really and in a way it would have been much harder if one of us wasn’t involved in the business as the hours are long and unforgiving and its stressful, so at least we both understand the nature of the game which is a good thing.



Having just seen the film up on the big screen – how does it look compared to your initial expectations?

They’re always very, very different. The way you see it on day one when you’re looking at the ten points of what the script is going to be, the way it is on day one to the way it it is up on the screen is miles apart. But it takes its own life.


How was it working alongside Tom Conti? It must have been brilliant, he’s a national treasure after all.

He’s a national treasure and he is an actor who has produced as well so he knows what it’s like to be on both sides of the camera, so from our perspective he was really supportive, hugely encouraging and he was really good. Hit the mark bang on. You know technically he’s a great actor and he’s very good to work with, but you can also sit down with him and have a cup of tea whilst he tells you all of his stories. He’s just lovely.


As for the director James Larkin this is just his first feature film – how bright a future do you see him in film?

I think he has a great future ahead of him, he has good ideas and he works well with actors and you know we were really fortunate to have a very good team around. We’ve been very fortunate in putting together a group of people who have encouraged and supported together, and film making is very much a collaborative effort. You can’t just be this single film maker, to get it onto the screen you need the help of a load of people.


Do you see yourself getting into directing one day?

Erm, maybe. Maybe.


And just finally, City Slacker is here at Raindance Festival this year – it must be really exciting for you, especially to be nominated for Best British feature as well?

Yeah it really is, they’re fantastic at Raindance as well. I’m absolutely thrilled. I wasn’t sure if it would be selected at Raindance it’s not your average independent British film so when it was selected we were delighted, absolutely thrilled, And for it to then be nominated was just the icing on the cake. And it’s just a lovely festival as well, a lovely atmosphere and they’re all very encouraging and upbeat people.



City Slacker Film Page | City Slacker Official Website