"One big adrenaline rush"
by Naman Ramachandran
- From Massive Attack and Oasis to a film that transports us back to the 1970s: The hectic career of a director who is both experienced and fresh
Writer/Director Ballie Walsh shot into prominence with his distinctive music videos for Massive Attack, Boy George and INXS in the 90s. His award-winning “World” video for New Order and commercials for Levis further cemented his reputation. In 1996 he made the hard-hitting feature-length documentary Mirror, Mirror about Consuella, a transvestite prostitute with AIDS. His documentary Lord, Don’t Slow Me Down, about iconic British band Oasis, also received favourable notices. Walsh now takes the plunge into the world of feature films with coming-of-age tale Flashbacks of a Fool [+see also:
interview: Baillie Walsh
interview: Damon Bryant
Cineuropa: What attracted you to this theme as a writer/director?
Baillie Walsh: I wanted to write about things I knew. That was the best way – something that I was passionate about. And I knew these people, they were personal to me. I love those characters – that’s why.
Tell us about Daniel Craig’s casting.
Daniel is a friend of mine. I’ve always liked and respected his work and I wanted to work with him. I knew that the best way to do that was to write something specifically for him. And then he became Bond and because he became Bond I was able to make my movie.
What challenges, if any, did you face while making the film?
Making a film is full of challenges but they are wonderful challenges. The whole process of making a film is an enormous challenge, but a joyous one for me. I was very lucky with the cast – I had fantastic actors so I was never worried that way. And I learnt an awful lot from them and enjoyed the process of working with them. So there were challenges but nothing that frightened me.
On the flip side, what was your happiest moment as a director on the film?
Probably the first day of filming when I realised when I was actually going to do it, the train leaving the station, there’s no stopping – that was a damn good moment. I have to say that the whole of last year was the best year of my life. The whole thing was one big adrenaline rush that didn’t stop, really.
You have a great, evocative 70s soundtrack…
Those records were very close to me when I was growing up, they kind of informed my life. Again in the way I knew that I wanted to write about something that I knew and loved, I wanted the music that carried me through my teenage years to be a part of that story. The Roxy Music track in particular, the lyrics are very personal to me and it informed the story while I was writing it. Bryan Ferry, David Bowie, Scott Walker – those were the key tracks really.
From music videos to documentaries to feature film – how smooth/difficult was the transition?
For me as a filmmaker it wasn’t a difficult transition at all. I’d always had the ambition to make a feature film. To be arrogant, I never doubted that I could do it. It’s my apprenticeship of 20 years of filmmaking in the sense of videos, commercials and documentaries that’s informed and allowed me to make the film. The other thing is that you are surrounded by very clever people. It’s a collaborative process, so if you surround yourself with great people, they protect you. Telling a story in 30 seconds or an hour and a half – they are different. You have much more time and you can be much more self-indulgent in a film. And I think I tell a story reasonably well in the film. I enjoyed the transition enormously.