by writer/director John Michael McDonagh
Christmas, 2008. I was at an extremely low ebb. The bitterness, contempt and rage I felt for the British Film Industry had reached nigh-on apocalyptic proportions. Virtually all the producers I’d met were either liars, thieves or morons. I was seriously considering becoming a plumber. You can make good money as a plumber, plus you meet a much better class of person.
Instead, I parlayed that bitterness, contempt and rage into the persona of Sergeant Gerry Boyle, the anti-hero of my directorial debut, The Guard. I’ve been pleasantly surprised to discover that so many people have the same feelings of bitterness, contempt and rage that I had, which is why audiences in the U.S., Ireland and Germany have so far taken the film to their hearts.
Soon, other countries throughout the world will experience The Guard’s peculiar and idiosyncratic world of comedic darkness. It has always been my unwavering belief that there is a massive market out there for intense, petty-minded, foul-mouthed and unbridled negativity, and I hope I’ve cornered it.
Regarding screenwriting itself, I am often asked, How do you come up with such great dialogue, John? How do you write a screenplay that is just so damned funny? Well, what I do is, I go to see whatever is the latest U.S. studio comedy release (it doesn’t matter which one, they’re all interchangeable) and then I write the exact opposite. This formula works for me every time, and I hope it works for you, too.
Directing is another matter entirely. I was a complete novice in this respect, and so I decided that the best thing for me to do would be to rip off and/or plagiarise my favourite movie-makers: John Ford, Preston Sturges, Monte Hellman, Michelangelo Antonioni, Don Siegel, Paul Schrader—they all get a workout.
As the late great Malcolm X once said, “All praise is due to Allah. Only the mistakes have been mine.”
I have no idea what that quote means in this context, but it’s a good way to end this piece, I think.