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 Making The Mother

We made The Mother out of a tin hut in a car park just off the Shepherd’s Bush roundabout. The art department moved the junk out, painted it white and put down some second-hand carpet, and set up different spaces for dressing rooms, for make-up, for costume, a camera store and a rehearsal room. Every morning we would meet up at the tin hut, eat bacon rolls, and prepare for the day. The rules we set for ourselves were: every location had to be less than fifteen minutes’ drive from the hut; no generators allowed; no trailers; no catering vans or dining buses; in fact, as little of everything as possible. We worked from eight till five, without a break for lunch, for six days a week. The sun shone, the weather was warm, England got knocked out of the World Cup, and for six weeks we shot our film.

Making a low-budget movie like The Mother can really work to your advantage if you let it: the beauty and effortless spontaneity of available light; the scintillating grain of blown-up Super 16mm film; a compositional sweetness and clarity made even sweeter by stripping away, rather than adding, objects and dressing to real locations; but above all the way in which everyone, cast and crew alike, are constantly within touching distance of each other. In my experience, trailer culture is generally bad for film-making, giving rise to an odd feeling of isolation. Actors step out of their car and into their trailer, usually before dawn. No wonder they feel a little scared and weird when, hours later, they are led onto yet another enormous set.

At one point I worked out that for the cost of one Changing Lanes (my last film) you could make thirty-two The Mothers. Both were great experiences for me. Both involved great actors and hard-working, committed crews. One was like riding high in a beautiful, well-oiled Rolls Royce, and the other was more like…well, hitch-hiking, in fact. Both ways of travelling have their advantages and disadvantages, and in my latest film, Enduring Love, I have tried to combine the best bits of both experiences. But that’s another story.


After her husband's death, ordinary suburban grandmother May (Anne Reid) finds herself at the mercy of her far-too-busy metropolitan children. Stuck in London with her family abusing or avoiding her, May feels that life is more or less over—until she falls suddenly in love with a man half her age (Daniel Craig), who happens to be sleeping also with her daughter. Written by Hanif Kureishi (Intimacy, My Beautiful Laundrette) and directed by Roger Michell (Notting Hill, Persuasion)