Interview with Director Joe Stephenson

Are You Chicken, Boy? Exposed Meets Joe Stephenson, director of film, ‘Chicken’.

Coming this month to Cineworld Sheffield, December 18 in fact, is the latest big thing in proper British film – Chicken. Not only that, but its director, Joe Stephenson is a local lad (and former Exposed intern) – and this will be one of the first screenings in the world. We sent Taylor Iscariot from @beer_mat_movies for a quiet drink with Joe to find out more.


This screening’s a triumphant homecoming for you, after all, you’re not just from Sheffield, but you used to work at our very own Cineworld. Feel good to be coming back?
It does feel good. I got a job there after work experience at 15yo and very distinctively remember thinking how great it would be to one day be there as a filmmaker – one of the many daydreams I had while mopping split cola from the cinema floors. It’s certainly quite surreal to actually be doing it.

The Cineworld showing will be one of the first in the world, but did we hear right that there’s talk of Chicken going to some of the big festivals? Are Sundance and Cannes in Chicken’s future for 2015?
That is in the hands of the festival gods! I decided to do these previews as I made the film for the audience, and wanted to find a way to start to show it ahead of finding out about where our world premiere would be. It’s such a long process getting a film out into the world, it’s good to not lose sight of why you made it in the first place – to be seen. Word of mouth can also be very powerful, so while reviews are embargoed we are encouraging people to tweet and post about the film if they attend one of these Advanced Previews.

Chicken’s based on a stage play, why did you decide to do an adaptation, and why this one?
It was an incredibly touching play, and I loved the dynamic between the brothers and the influence of Annabel (Yasmin Paige’s character in the film) on their lives. It is also quite rare to find a stage play that can be faithfully translated, and expanded, for cinema. It’s an intimate story in many ways, but a grand one in terms of its themes.

The film’s already earned high praise from none other than Gandalf himself, Sir Ian McKellan, that must be rewarding, not to mention good for the old ego.
It’s very flattering indeed. I’m coming into this industry as a complete outsider, so to have endorsement from people like Ian McKellen and Stephen Frears means the world.

You planning to invite The Bean to the Sheffield screening in order to add Boromir to The Fellowship of Chicken Love?
I haven’t specifically invited ‘The Bean’ but I’m all for creating a ‘Fellowship of Chicken Love’ so perhaps I should. I’d worry that ‘Chicken Love’ sounds somewhat inappropriate though?!?

Chicken’s not even out yet and it has mega-hype, but people are also raving about your next project (a Noel Coward biopic), what can you tell us about that?
It’s going to surprise people, I think. We focus on Noel Coward’s early life; looking at how he found himself as an artist, the people who influenced him the most early on, and how he came to create a public persona so successful that people today think that was actually who he was. Everything people think of when they think of Noel today was designed by him, even the way he spoke was a creation of his. I start shooting next Spring on this, Chris Colfer (Glee) is my young Noel, and he’s joined by Vanessa Redgrave, Sir Ian McKellen and Jonathan Pryce. And more I can’t tell you about yet.

Finally Joe, why did the chicken cross the road?
To star in my movie, obviously.

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