Young Scottish director/writer team SAUL METZSTEIN and JACK LOTHIAN said to FilmFour: ‘Can we have £1.6m to go Late Night Shopping please?’ They tell The List about their purchases. Words: Miles Fielder
he first thing you notice about Late Night Shopping is that it‘s very wordy: but in a good way. Edinburgh-born writer Jack Lothian‘s semi- autobiographical screenplay is plugged with punchy dialogue and offbeat characterisations. fresher and tnore vital than anything coming out of Hollywood and every British film since 'Ii'uinspoiting.
Fellow Scot and Late Night Shopping‘s director Saul Met/stein keeps his creative partner‘s script buoyant with a lively sense of pacing and. care of his cinematographer Brian Trufano. high quality gloss visuals. But. as they do say. a good film starts with a good script. except . . . Lothian and Metzstein didn‘t have one when they went to FilmFour asking: ‘Can we have £1.6m. please‘."
Sitting in the Glasgow oflices of production company Ideal World. Lothian (young. short. sharply-dressed. quick-wilted) recalls: ‘I said to FilmFour: “It‘s about a guy who works the night-shift and his girlfriend works days and so he never sees her and so he checks the soap in their ﬂat to see if he can find evidence of her still living there". They said: "OK".‘
Metzstein (slightly older. much taller. baggy dressed. more comfortable doing the publicity thing) adds: ‘We knew roughly what filtn we wanted to make — dialogue-heavy with
12 THE LIST 21 Jun-5 Jul 2001
people sitting around talking — and Jack knew the title. In fact. FilmFour came to us to make a low-budget film. So. during the development stage there was never: “Should we have a murder? Should we blow up a car?“ We weren‘t at that budget where they start imposing things on you. like stars or the ending.‘
Lothian and Met/stein have collaborated before. firstly on the short Santa (laws. and just prior to Late Night Shopping on The Name Of This Film ls Dogma ()5. a (‘hannel 4 documentary about the Danish back-to-basics filmmaking movement. While between them they have amassed significant writing. cinematography and directing credits. it must have been challenging to graduate into a fully-ﬂedged feature‘.’
‘People tell you about how making a film has to be painful. but it wasn‘t in this case.‘ says Metzstein. ‘(Joing from short to feature doesn‘t get bigger and more difficult; it gets bigger and easier because there’s a whole mechanism that makes sure everything gets done. You‘re not out by yourself making a total disaster. so the pressures off.”
‘The script was all done by the time we started filming.‘ says Lothian. “There was the odd thing here and there . . .‘
Metzstein elaborates: ‘The way we approached it was to get the script right. and then film the script. There wasn‘t the budget for alternate takes: there was no scope to deviate from the script at all. There‘s only one and a half scenes we didn‘t use. The first cut was 93 minutes long. the final cut is ()l.'
Jack: ’lt's still too long.‘
Doesn‘t feel it. though. Ninety-one minutes to tell a slice in the story of four slackers: soap—checker Sean. womanising Lance. odd-girl-out Jody and nerdy Lenny. During the hours of darkness either side of their nightshift work. this 'Famous