‘Hello Carter’ dir. Anthony Wilcox
Recently sacked and interminably single, Carter is in a rut. So when he spies his beautiful ex-girlfriend through a library bookshelf, for a brief moment, things promise to get a whole lot better. But she is nine months pregnant. And about to go into labour.
Writer-Director: Anthony Wilcox
Producers: Julian Bird & Katie Mavroleon
DOP: Andrew Dunn
Editor: Francis Harris
Key Cast: Dominic Cooper, Jodie Whittaker
C8: What was the inspiration for ‘Hello Carter’ and how long did it take you to write?
AW: I was driving one day when an ex-girlfriend crossed the road in front of me, heavily pregnant! It wasn’t a situation where I was forced to have a conversation with her but it struck me as an interesting way for a character to meet someone from their past and having to address dormant thoughts or conflicts. The story grew from that.
It took about a week to write, initially but it was a year before it was shot so I definitely tinkered with it from time to time over that period.
C8: What was the most challenging aspect of the shoot?
AW: Locations are always tough to find when you have no budget. The meeting scene location was written as a supermarket but that ended up being impossible, logistically, so we ended up doing it in a library. Scheduling around a cast as in demand as this was tricky too.
C8: Can you tell us how you assembled the cast? What were you looking for in each part?
AW: Other than Jodie Whittaker, the actors were all people I knew from previous work. So I’d written the parts with them in mind really. Dominic’s perhaps best known for showier roles and I thought it would be interesting to strip that preconception of him away a little. Jodie was someone I’d long admired and was my first choice for this role. She has a rare mix of beauty, humour, poise and accessibility. These are all qualities you’d definitely miss in an ex-girlfriend!
C8: Dominic Cooper and Jodie Whittaker have great chemistry on screen. Did you rehearse with them before shooting?
AW: The three of us met for a drink a couple of days before shooting. We chatted generally about a possible history that these two characters had shared. I’m not a huge fan of formal rehearsals. Dominic and Jodie are both very honest, spontaneous performers so, although the chemistry we were looking for was perhaps an unusual one, they were able to find it quickly.
C8: Were there any influences from film, art or photography that you had in mind while making the film?
AW: I like to collect photographic reference, primarily, before shooting. There was a lot of William Eggleston in this. I’m slightly obsessed with him and his ability to capture the every day, ordinary in a bold and cinematic way.
C8: You have adapted ‘Hello Carter’ into a feature length film. Was this always the plan?
AW: Yes. The feature didn’t actually exist as a script when we made the short but we felt the character, tone and themes were strong enough to take into a longer story. We set about making the short film primarily as a way of introducing potential financiers and collaborators to the idea. It turned out to be a good move.
C8: Talk us through the process of adapting a short into a feature. What obstacles did you run into?
AW: The key was to maintain some those elements of the short film that had made it popular but not be restricted by it when it came to telling a new, bigger story. And the further we progressed with the feature, the simpler it was to leave the nuts and bolts of the short behind, probably so the process didn’t present any massive obstacles, fortunately.
C8: Do you think the process of making a feature would have been different if you hadn’t made the short first?
AW: Creatively, I don’t think it would have changed it much actually. The feature film became its own entity pretty quickly. So many elements of the short film changed (locations, story, cast,) that we never once referenced it while prepping or shooting the feature.
C8: What was the difference in writing ‘Hello Carter’ as a short opposed to a feature?
AW: Everything was different except the title page!
C8: What advice would you give to emerging filmmakers who are embarking on their first feature?
AW: Be certain it’s a story you really want to tell as making a film is a long, fraught, sweaty business. Surround yourself with good and talented people. Be as adaptable as you can whilst staying true to your vision. Hold your nerve.
C8: What is next for you? Where do you see yourself in five years time?
AW: We’re currently developing a new film I’ve written with the BFI and plan to shoot that next Spring. That’s as far ahead as I can see right now!
The feature length version of Hello Carter is now available to download.