Interview: Peter Mackie Burns – Director of DAPHNE
“DAPHNE is a film about a very funny intelligent opinionated young woman, a bit too cool for school , who’s hedonistic life style doesn’t quite deliver the thrills it once did. When she saves a man during a botched robbery her life begins to change in ways that she doesn’t expect. And then she is forced to take a fresh look at her life and relationships and take steps to make things work for her.”
We had a quick chat with director and co-writer Peter Mackie Burns who talks behind-the-scenes of DAPHNE.
Hello! So the film has been described as ‘A romantic comedy with all the bullshit taken out’ – was this the intention?
The intention was to make a film that tries to genuinely reflect contemporary life in a big city and to create a very relatable funny and three dimensional female central character, one who doesn’t want to be anyone’s wife, or a mother or is particularly bothered with looking for romance. She is just trying to sort her own shit out. We wanted to make something that was funny and true and would resonate with the audience. We all know someone like Daphne, a live wire who doesn’t always make things easy for themselves and doesn’t like bullshit. Other people’s or her own.
What message are you trying to get across to the audience, and how successful do you feel in that endeavour?
How successful we were in achieving what we set out to do is up to the audience to decide. But I hope they like it and I must say in my personal opinion Emily Beecham’s performance as DAPHNE is extraordinary. Emily is so convincing that you forget she is acting. DAPHNE is someone I would love to have a night out with.
What is your favourite scene in DAPHNE?
My favourite scene in the movie involves Ryan Gosling and a bucket of fried chicken. I will say no more about it!
How very intriguing! Are any of the characters based on people you know?
Every character is based on a person or even a couple of people that we know. We spend quite a long time making the characters and building up a pretty detailed picture of them and their lives. We are very influenced in this respect by some wonderful directors such as Mike Leigh, John Casavettes and Japan’s Hirokazu Koreeda. Character films are my absolute favourite type of films because they make you see the world from a very particular viewpoint. And I am very interested in how people live their lives.
Were there any scenes which were particularly difficult to nail? Why?
Their was one particular scene that was a bit tricky to shoot. It was the final shot in the film, which was the final scene on the shoot. We were shooting on a crowded street in a very busy area in London called Elephant and Castle. It was rush hour and the light was going and we were shooting outside a tube station. No problem there any film crew probably hasn’t faced before but for some reason on that particular day every person on the street wanted to come and say hello. They had ignored us shooting around the area everyday for weeks but on that last day everyone was really friendly and wanted to stop and chat and chat. And chat some more.
What is your film pet peeve? Is there anything in cinema today that you dislike and try to avoid in your work?
I do have a bit of a pet peeve in a certain type of popular cinema. It basically involves the majority of female characters in films being an appendage to the male characters rather than sentient beings in their own right, worthy of their own stories or at the very least portrayed as equals rather than as archetypes. An old gripe some might argue but a situation that is changing too slowly in my opinion. We live in a diverse society so let’s reject that in cinema. As the singer Nina Simone said, ‘It is the artist’s duty to reflect the times.”
Peter Mackie Burns will tour DAPHNE ahead of its 29 September cinema release. A special preview screening of DAPHNE with a Q&A will take place on Monday 2 October at 8pm @ The Showroom Cinema.