I recently got the chance to talk to Gary Douglas about his new film ‘Gun Of The Black Sun’. Here, Gary talks about how the story originally came about and what it was like working with the likes of Richard Lynch and footballer Ian Wright on-set…
Hey Gary. Thanks for taking the time out to talk to me. ‘Gun Of The Black Sun’ has just had its DVD premiere in the UK.
Being the writer of the film, how did the idea originally come about?
I had written a series of music videos for an artist where each of her songs and videos would be a series of inter-connecting stories. The artist became a pre-Madonna and her record company dumped her as no-one would work with her. We still had the final music video story lying around so we thought we could turn it into a short film…I naively said: “Why not make a feature film out of it instead?” and so the journey began.
Tell us a bit about the character you yourself play in the film…
I play Axel O’Rourke – who is a battle scared Jack the Lad Irish nightclub co-owner. He’s got the girls, flash cars and toys, he’s a womanizer and a party animal – and also a little egotistical on the outside.
How has the reception been so far to the film?
The premiere of the film went down a storm – the audience were prepared for something different and by God they got it. I wrote the film on two levels – the first is more of a surface level, the second is much deeper with lots of clues and deeper meanings. Many people who have seen the film have wanted to see it again straight away to enjoy the more complex side of the film. Many have been hounding me for the DVD. I have been told that it is a slow grower – a word of mouth film – destined to be a cult classic. Prey God they are right. Needless to say many of the football forum sites are giving the trailer dogs abuse because of Ian and for also believing that I am putting on an Irish accent. “Why couldn’t they get a Paddy to play the part?”…I am Irish-born and bred guys. The film is currently with the newspaper film reviewers as we speak, so their views should be an interesting read.. as in all things in life it’s how the public perceive the film that matters the most.
The film stars your good self, Richard Lynch and oddly enough – Ian Wright. Jeff Burr is also onboard as director too. How was it working with the cast and crew on the film?
I come from a very different stance than most people. As the writer and producer, I also had the role of casting everyone in the film. As in real life some people you gel with and some ..well…I can safely say that Richard and I felt as if we had known each other all our lives – we had an instant connection. He’s a veteran of over 150 films with wonderful stories to match. He was always on the set on time, raring to go and word prefect with his lines every time. He’s a true professional yet not without his demons. Richard rang me last week to say “How’s the film going?” actually – he had just come from being a guest at a sci-fi convention with Ernest Borgnine no less.
I knew Ian before making the film so that was a little different. I asked Ian to be in the film and he jumped at the chance – not for the obvious reasons that people would expect .. having a production company once himself and knowing it is virtually impossible to get an indie film financed or made – he admired my determination and drive and he loved the storyline. He asked me once – “Why am I doing this?” I said “Because all my life I’ve loved film and I want to tell the world a story without hesitation”. He said “Count me in”. Ian and I knew that we would get flack – with the whole “not another f….king footballer wanting to be an actor” comments. He rehearsed tirelessly though – his lines were word-perfect and he was paranoid that in some way he would let me down .. no chance.
Jeff Burr, our director, was brought in at a late stage as the original director had serious health problems. Thankfully he is fine now and edited the film with me. Jeff had worked with Richard in some of his previous films and had also worked with my D.O.P and his crew before in Romania – so that saved time and technical issues. Jeff is a technical wizard, a very dedicated and highly experienced man in the art of lower budget film-making – therefore we shot on time and within budget. We did not always see eye to eye on the creative side – this often happens with the director and the writer and in my case the producer as well. I had a very definite vision for the film. He wanted the film to be more an American style – I wanted it to be of a European style and in many ways we both won in the end.
Let’s talk a bit about you Gary. What made you want to get into acting in the first place?
My great-grandfather had a cinema and he was also a painter and writer. whereas my grandmother when I was young played the piano in the cinema for the silent films. Needless to say I did not witness any of this – I was only told about these events. One of my first memories as a child was watching the TV in my father’s taxi office and seeing “ The Lone Ranger”. It transported me into a different world. Like most people at that time it was a few years later that we actually had a TV in the house. I became obsessed by the old black and white films of the 40’s and 50’s. showing on Saturday and Sunday afternoons. Many years later I ended up in Australia to visit my relatives (as my mother is Australian). Ending up in Melbourne I needed to get a job as I was broke. I found an ad which was asking for people for film and TV work. I was one of the lucky ones – it was a genuine agency. At the same time I managed to blag my way into a job for a fashion company as well – at that time it felt like Hollywood to me! And since then I’ve just worked my way up.
If you could recommend a film or TV series to someone, what would you choose and why?
If I can be greedy one film and one TV series. The film I would pick would be ‘Cinema Paradiso’ – why? Because it embodies everything I love about film. More importantly, it shows ideas about life, family, dreams and lost love. The T.V series I would pick would be ‘Entourage’ – the loosely based story of Mark Wahlberg’s rise to fame. It’s the story of an actor from Queens, New York, who makes it big as an actor and decides takes his friends to L.A. with him. You can learn more from this show about Hollywood and the film business than in any book or documentary. Having lived in L.A I know most of the locations when watching it on a cold winter’s day in London.
What does a Gary Douglas day usually consist of?
My cat usually cries for her breakfast at 7.30am so up I get to feed her, I then check my emails and answer them while having breakfast. I then take my dog, a Shar-Pei called Max for a walk. I stop off at Tino’s coffee shop to meet a well-known actor friend. After lunch I go to a nearby gym to work out – usually 5-6 times a week. I do my own stunts and the stamina needed to make films is immense. Currently, due to ‘Guns’ being released – I’m talking to the press more often – and I have various interviews to do. I get invited to the odd film premiere and book launch sometimes and I am also a member of a weekly film club which happens to be in a trendy hotel with a rooftop bar – it can end up a wild night partying and jumping in the jacuzzi! Tomorrow is another day.
What has been the most interesting piece of local / national news you’ve heard in the last month?
With all the phone hacking, debt crisis in Europe and America, famine in Africa etc I wanted to finish on a less serious note but no less poignant. In the press recently there was a news story about a glamorous blond woman and her two friends who were driving into a very busy square in Monaco in their £225,000 Bentley Convertible when they managed to hit a Ferrari, a Aston Martin and Mercedes. It was a very low-speed accident, no one was hurt, but they couldn’t open the doors. The square was mobbed with tourists all taking photos of them.. the expense and humiliation of it all!
What’s coming up for you in 2011?
This month I am obviously promoting the film – in the beginning of September I have been invited to partake in the first ever Transylvania classic car rally in an old Ferrari racing car. It’s a three-day event with lunch at Dracula’s castle on one of the days so I can’t wait. I am currently writing a violent, sexually charged, gothic thriller about obsession set in London and Romania so while I’m there I’m going to be checking out some of the locations to add to the feel and realism of the story. Later in the year I have been invited to a couple of film festivals to meet up with some foreign distributors of the film. We are also going have a guerilla style screening of ‘Guns’ with lots of music and DJ’s somewhere in London.
Thanks for the interview!