Friday, 12 June 2015

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A Chat with British Film Producer Jonathan Sothcott

Here is my interview with British Film Producer Jonathan Sothcott.

What Does a Producer Do?

I was lucky enough to have a chat with British Film Producer Jonathan Sothcott.
Who is Jonathan Sothcott?......
Jonathan Sothcott could soon be Britain’s Harvey Weinstein as he is about to about to open his own studio, Peacock Film Studios,acting as producer. His impressive filmography boasts more than twenty films including Vendetta, White Collar Hooligan, We Still Kill the Old Way and many more. His films have gained quite a following, so fans will be pleased to know along with Age of Kill, two more features are set to follow, Bonded by Blood II and the sequel to We Still Kill the Old Way: We Steal the Old Way.
Sothcott, who champions British actors through his film company Richwater Films, has been noted as far as Los Angeles with prestigious film magazine The Hollywood Reporter stating “Jonathan Sothcott is carving out a niche as one of the most prolific producers of British Action Movies”. His latest feature, Age of Kill is about to premiere.
Age of Kill boasts a cast of familiar faces including Donna Air, Martin Kemp, Dexter Fletcher, April Pearson, Philip Davies, Patrick Bergin and Nick Moran. In this riveting, fast-paced thriller a black ops sniper is blackmailed by a psychotic international terrorist killing 6 unrelated people in 6 hours, but there is more to the victims than meets the eye.
With the opening of Peacock Film Studios – London - it is safe to say we can expect many more exciting films from this talented producer.
I was able to ask Jonathan a few questions about being a producer, working with some great british talent and even pitch a few film ideas to him.

Hello Jonathan. Thanks for talking to me. I've actually been aware of your work for a few years now and you have a pretty impressive producer’s filmography. Can you tell me what exactly a producer does?

It all depends on the producer to be honest. And then there are all the various associate producers, co-producers, line producers and executive producers. I have a producing partner, Neil Jones, who is a nuts and bolts producer – budgets, schedules, all the complex (and boring) stuff that goes into physically making movies. I am all about finding the projects, attaching the talent, raising the money and then selling the movies. It’s a dream partnership really because Neil does all the work and I take all the credit. Seriously though I’d be lost without Jonesy. Some years ago I made a truly dismal comedy about the film industry in which Danny Dyer played this rather louche producer, which he based on me. The last shot of the movie has Rik Mayall asking him what exactly an Executive Producer does… Dyer is in bed, post coital, with Shameless actress Alice Barry who pipes up “everything except anal.” I’m not sure how true that is but it still makes me chuckle.

When you get a script and want to make a film, what is the decision process whilst trying to find the right director, actor, crew etc and once they are on board how does your input into the filmmaking process change?

Rarely is a scenario the same from film to film – I have a pool of writers and directors and they all pitch ideas to me, sometimes together, sometimes individually. Sometimes a script comes in out of the blue and is brilliant, sometimes a distributor will give me an idea (which was the case on We Still Kill The Old Way) or sometimes I’ll read a book and option it. I try and let the creative get on with their jobs as much as possible – if you hire good people they only need gentle management. Working with someone like Sacha Bennett, who’s just wrapped his second film for me is a dream – we have a great producer/director rapport and haven’t had a cross word across two pictures… you can’t ask for much more!

You've worked with some great British talent, from Danny Dyer to Nick Nevern to Rita Ramnani and Craig Fairbrass. Do you look at the pool of actors in the UK film industry and feel happy to have them on board?

I’ve had a lot of fun working with Danny, Craig, Nick and Rita over the years. One of the great things about being a producer is that you get to work with actors you admire – Return of the Jedi was one of the first films I saw and I did a picture with Mark Hamill for example. Anyone who has seen my movies will know that I have this rep company of great British actors – Billy Murray, Martin Kemp, Vincent Regan, Jason Fleymng, Phil Davis, Patrick Bergin etc. But its fun working with emerging talent too – I gave Danny-Boy Hatchard (Lee Carter in Eastenders) his first film role in We Still Kill The Old Way and he was fantastic. More recently I cast Casey Batchelor in Bonded By Blood 2. I’ll be honest, there was cynicism from some of my colleagues – shouldn’t we get a more experienced actress etc? But she was drama school trained and you know what? They’ve all come back to me since and said how great she was.

Tell me more about Peacock Film Studios. What should we expect from it?

I used to make a lot of pictures at Wimbledon Studios until it went bust last year and was kind of relying on it. So I have been looking for a replacement. Billy Murray and I were in Canning Town meeting a writer at the Peacock Gym, who kindly let me use their boardroom when I’m in East London. The owner of the Peacock said I should come and look at some space he had, maybe we could film in it… and it was basically a bloody readymade film studio. We’ve been tarting it up and it will be ready to open soon. It has been Billy’s baby really, he has totally project managed it and been hands on in the redevelopment – we’ve had a succession of builders and contractors looking bemused at the sight of Johnny Allen on the roof in a hardhat doing a bit of casual welding. The man’s a legend.

What upcoming movies should we be looking out for?

Well I’m looking forward to the new Star Wars… oh, I see what you mean. My latest one is Age of Kill which is out this month. It’s an action movie starring Martin Kemp, Phil Davis and Nick Moran. It’s unusual for a Brit indie in that there’s no football hooligans, no range rover murders – no gangsters in fact. It’s an action/spy movie. So hopefully people will appreciate that it’s something a bit different. And Martin is bloody magnificent in it.

Ok here's a fun scenario.
Right, I'm a film writer and I want to pitch to you three films. Give me your honest producers critique on them and give them a title:

A couple living on a council estate in London find a car abandoned near their flat. Inside in loads of drugs and money. They take it all and try to live a high life, until a gang return to retrieve their goods. It all ends up with a stand-off between the couple and the gang. Think die-hard meets benefits street.

I actually quite like this. I’d go with either Money For Nothing, Wages Of Sin or Stolen.

A group of three girls seek revenge on a pimp that abused them for years. They embark on a road journey to track him down, but along the way one of the girls is hiding a secret.

Depends on the secret. Is she a man? Or his sister? Female action is hard to sell because it so easily turns into exploitation movie territory. Which is a shame as I have a great female-centric action movie which I think could be every bit as good as Vendetta. I’d call this Payback. I know it has been used before but it does what it says on the tin.

A chubby little blogger finds out he is actually a Superhero with the power to bore people enough until they fall asleep. He lives alone....because every one is asleep. It's a solo one take movie.

I think this geezer wrote a couple of movies for me as it goes. The Seventh Sense?

I think you’d be surprised about how close to what I get pitched these are. I get a lot of vigilante taxi driver pitches too. Mostly from taxi drivers who want to be vigilantes.

Thank you very much for your time, Jonathan.
Follow Jonathan on Twitter @SothCott


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