by director David Mackenzie
So, the script for this film comes along from a writer we know. On the face of it, it's a relatively straight, sweet, romcom—except it's set in the mud and the mayhem of a huge music festival and it involves performing musicians (like kids and animals, you know the score!).
My first thoughts went something like this—you would need a crazy budget to recreate the craziness of a festival, so how about using a real festival to shoot the wides and then mop up the tighter stuff afterwards in a more controllable way? OK, but these things only happen over 3 or 4 days—how much can you shoot in that time? And then, how do you recreate the festival afterwards—with huge stages, etc.? OK, so how about we shoot the whole thing in the 4 days that the festival is there—that way we don't have to recreate anything?
But that's impossible! You just can't shoot drama that quickly—not even in totally controllable studio environments. Yes, you can!
As a director, I find you can get caught up in the rhythms of the schedule and everyone's expectations of how things are supposed to be done (professional behavior) and pretty soon you're not running the show, the process is—and that's frustrating and doesn't make good films. So, I am always looking for ways to shake things up; (a) so it doesn't get boring and (b) to try to uncover new ways of doing things; new forms and energies.
I got what I asked for with this film—a chance to find a new process, which I could make my own, to suit this challenge—because there was no way a normal film process was going to work.
The first thing was to build a team that could handle the pressure. The cast: young experienced actors who were also real musicians, composing and playing their own material up there on stage. They had to hold the entire script in their head (and it was a wordy script), be able to jump to any scene whenever the situation arose, and stay in character—prepared to improvise if needed—for 18+ hours a day. All of this in an atmosphere of complete mayhem while the festival goers around them were totally unaware they were acting.
We did rehearse—I had the idea that if we could shoot the whole film in 1 day in a controlled environment, we should be able to do it in 4 days in an insane one. We tried and failed but we learned a lot.
Then we had to do it for real.
Four and half days after we started, we're shooting a romantic scene in the dawn after working all night, the festival's over and all that's left is mud and trash. Thousands of seagulls start swarming around us breaking the eerie quiet like a magical apocalypse. We did it—we shot the whole film—and this is the last image and it's just beautiful!
To me this movie is about joy, energy, freedom, dancing and insanity. That may sound like a description of the music festival itself—and it probably was for most people there—but is also a description of what it was like for us making the film. We all had to learn to roll—and dance—with the opportunities—and we all came out the other side exhausted but enriched by the experience.
Tonight You're Mine is far from slick—but it's filled with energy and a real festival spirit. It's surprisingly tender and romantic—and it has some great production values that only shooting for real in amongst 120,000 partying Scotsmen could have given us.
It's a film that's meant to be enjoyed. I had an amazing—liberating—time making it and I hope that comes across.