Marc Evans Interview
Marc Evans Interview
A Welsh film director with releases such as Patagonia, Snow Cake, My Little Eye and Resurrection Man to his name, Marc Evans has recently taken on the musical drama, Hunky Dory. A slow burning hit at the 2011 London Film Festival, the film tells the story of a musical production of Shakespeare’s The Tempest during the drought laden summer of 1976. Set in Swansea and starring Minnie Driver as the inspirational drama teacher behind the show, Hunky Dory is a coming age drama, following the lives of various emotionally troubled teenagers throughout that one long, hot summer.

Recently in London, Marc Evans spoke to View’s Matthew Turner about coming up with his British high school drama, choosing the right music for the kids to sing, and just why Minnie Driver was so perfect for the part.
How did the project come about?

Marc Evans

It was a conversation, with Jonathan Finn, the producer, 'What do we do next?', after My Little Eye, which was a horror film. And it was a conversation about music and how much music influences our lives, how much it was part of our lives, growing up and then, you know, why don't British films do more sort of high school type – the celebration of that state, you know? We've got brilliant films like Quadrophenia, obviously and The Commitments, but in a way, in America, they're happy to live in that world of high school, so 1976 gave us weather and music and then you start exploring it, that's where it came from.
The music scenes are really wonderful in the film. How did you go about putting them on screen?

Marc Evans

Making the music was great fun, because we really started from scratch with orchestral improvisations, trying different songs out, we had three or four workshops with the kids, we had an amazing musical director, Joby Talbot, so that was really fun. And then we worked a way of doing it more or less live on the day, especially the singing, so the kids were playing their own parts and the orchestral breakdowns are for real and all that and the singing is for real. So that was absolutely thrilling for me, because I liked the music and I liked what we were doing with it.

It was tough in the time, to try and do what we were doing – it was a bit too ambitious, it's quite epic, in a way – the core effort of the film was getting that right, because you have to get that right. So it was a tough film to make, especially because, you can imagine, the weather was really rubbish in the summer we chose to shoot it in. But the music was always a joy – there's moments when you just sit there and you just watch kids playing songs that you like and that was just amazing.
You mentioned about the weather – I was going to say, how difficult was it recreating the summer of '76, given that we've never really had a summer of '76 since then?

Marc Evans

We have never had it since, have we? No, and it certainly wasn't 2010, I'll tell you that. You know, it's the west coast of Wales, it's Swansea Bay and it's just changeable, it's always changeable in Wales, so you're just chasing the weather all the time. Which, on a tight schedule, was really painful, actually, because you can't recreate it, but you do have to shoot and so you're just constantly in this schizophrenic state. And the producer John was amazing, because he made it a priority and we're just literally watching the weather, weekly, daily, hourly, changing scenes so we could catch a bit of sunlight and all that sort of stuff.
Do you have a favourite scene in the film?

Marc Evans

Oh, that's a very good question. Do I have a favourite scene in the film? I always feel with films – because I always think my films are flawed – I suppose most films are, but there's always like sort of golden sections and I do love the section which is about Evan and the Lido and when he comes out to his friend Dina and they sing The Man Who Sold the World. I do love that section because I think it's sort of coming together – these strands are quite elliptical, aren't they, and they're not whole stories and I think that might frustrate some people but it was semi-deliberate.
I've seen it twice now and I think it works much better on a second viewing, when you know where it's going and where it's not going.

Marc Evans

A few people have said that – so it's one of those things that, you know, it's just part of the DNA of the film and I can't do anything about it, but it's towards there, the characters are coming to fruition a bit and they sort of pay off and as a result I do love The Man Who Sold the World, what it does at that point.
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Content updated: 15/09/2019 20:37

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