‘Modern Life is Rubbish’ dir. Daniel Jerome Gill

A bittersweet Comedy Drama for the iPod generation, which uses the classic scenario of a couple separating their music collection to explore themes of love, loss and the inherent evil of greatest hits albums.

Director: Daniel Jerome Gill
Writer: Phillip Gawthorne
DOP: Tasha Black
Key Cast: Rebecca Night, Rafe Spall

C8: How did you come across Phillip Gawthorne’s script and what made you want to direct it?

DJG: I spoke to Phil and explained I wanted to direct another short film, and asked him to send me a variety of his short plays. I read them all and ‘Modern Life is Rubbish’ immediately jumped out.  We’ve all broken up with someone and argued about ownership of books, CD’s, furniture etc. I felt it would be a story that people would relate to. I loved the character of Liam, with his anti-establishment mentality and attitude.

Also, I adored Phil’s great dialogue, and the way the story glimpses the rise and fall of their relationship through music.

Then we met up and I explained some of my ideas for the film. I said I had just worked with an actress, who would be ideal called Rebecca Night. Little did I know that she played Natalie in the theatre production at the Hampstead Theatre. At that moment, Phil & I knew we were destined to make this film.

C8: Rafe Spall and Rebecca Night have great chemistry. What were you looking for when you cast the film?

DJG: I wanted two actors who are naturalistic. I’d worked with both and knew they’d be perfect. I also wanted to create a bitter/sweet tone to the film, and Rafe is excellent at delivering subtle comedy.  They both read the script and loved it. I was lucky to get them.

C8: Did you have a rehearsal process? How did you work with the actors?

DJG: Both actors were super busy, however, we had an afternoon before the shoot together. I don’t like rehearsing lines, but like to build the characters with the actors, mapping out their character history and improvising scenes, which aren’t in the script. The rehearsal process is really important for me, and I believe helps create a sense of realism and authenticity.

C8: From start to finish what was the most difficult aspect of the shoot?

DJG: The schedule. We had two days to shoot the entire film and no overtime, as everyone worked for their lunch.

C8: The film did tremendously well on the festival circuit. Do you think film festivals still offer something that online distribution doesn’t?

DJG: The only thing festivals offer is exposure on a big screen. I don’t agree with exclusivity. I think the filmmaker has achieved an almost impossible task of making a short film, normally on a micro-budget, he/she should be able to showcase their film wherever. Hats off to anyone who has the courage to make a film.

C8: If you had the chance to do it again is there anything you would do differently?

DJG: No. Never.

C8: What advice would you give to emerging filmmakers?

DJG: Try and get on as many film sets as possible. No film school can teach you what happens on set.

C8: You have a feature version of ‘Modern Life is Rubbish’ in development. Can you tell us a little more about that?

DJG: Yes it’s all very exciting. We have a cracking cast attached, in the final stages of raising the finance and plan to shoot in the Spring. The film is definitely an extension of the short. Every time the couple discuss an album, pick up a ticket stub or hear a song, we flash back into the past and see the story of their love and relationship.

C8: You’ve worked on some big name projects such as ‘World War Z’, ‘Anna Karenina’ and ‘Game of Thrones’. Has working on these bigger projects since making ‘Modern Life is Rubbish’ changed how you think you’ll approach filmmaking in the future?

DJG: If anything it’s the more arthouse cinema, such as ‘Wuthering Heights’, which has changed my approach.  I enjoy working work actors on characterisation, to create true to nature performances. This technique I used on my last short ‘Freak’, where I worked with youth theatres and untrained teenagers.

C8: What do you think makes a good collaboration?

DJG: People who see as you do and who are passionate about the project.

I also, feel that the director should allow his/her HOD’s a large degree of creative freedom to do their job. After all they are the experts in their field.

C8: What is next for Daniel Jerome Gill? Any exciting projects on the horizon?

DJG: Mainly focusing on ‘Modern Life is Rubbish’ the feature, but developing some other feature scripts with various writers.

You can follow Daniel on Twitter @danieljgill