Tuesday, 23 October 2012

EXCLUSIVE: Tony Hawks interview

File:Tony Hawks.jpg
I have been trying to interview Tony Hawks for months, and each time something got in the way. However, in the meantime, I saw both of his films, and was struck by the difference in them. The first Round Ireland with a Fridge is a straightforward comedy film about a bloke hitch-hiking around Ireland with a fridge in order to win a drunken bet. The second is far less straightforward...

JON: Well, I’ve seen both your films, the ones on Gonzo.  They are both smashing. They are very different, aren’t they, from each other?

TONY: They are very different stories and therefore – yes they are completely different in a way.

JON: Because the first one is much more straightforward.

TONY: Yes it is. There is not as much going on is there, there is not so much depth to it. It’s a lighter story all around and there’s more questions in the second one. Moral questions in a way, you know.  What the hell am I doing there in the first place, really.

JON: Exactly.  I was expecting the second to be just as much fun as the first one, sort of light-hearted fun.  But it wasn’t, it made you think an awful lot more.

TONY: I was conscious that if it was to be an out and out comedy it then sort of becomes potentially ….  tends to become a little insulting to the Moldovans.  It needed to be both, well hopefully… on the very last night, I wasn’t there, but the guy came – who I knew was watching it – said that it was getting a lot of laughs, so they do laugh as well, but hopefully they think a bit. That’s the idea.
JON: How has it gone down in Moldova?

TONY: It went very well actually. They are going to give it another run so basically we did the world premier there and then it showed for a few weeks in the capital, and it was well attended, and they really laugh a  lot – in different places, but I’m very pleased.  The only complaint I’ve had from some slightly older people is that feel it is a bit disrespectful that someone takes off their clothes whilst singing the Moldovan National Anthem and I just say, well you can’t do anything about that, that is just what happened.  That is what we did.  We didn’t mean it as an insult, but it apparently is a little bit of an insult to some older people.

JON: Yes I thought that, that it might be perceived as such. What I was thinking as well, because you opened up quite a can of worms because you were portraying a period just after the Soviet rule had ended, and it was filmed considerably later on after that, wasn’t it?

TONY: Yes…

JON: Something like 10 years after.

TONY: There’s two gaps.  There’s the sort of gap of before I got there when it hadn’t been out of the Soviet Union for about eight or nine years, and then a further eight or nine years before we made and shot the film, so there were two kind of gaps in a way, really.  But it wasn’t difficult to find places that looked exactly the same – you just have to basically go one street back.  A lot of the changes from the so-called improvements – they are in the capital city and a few roads here and there elsewhere, but there’s not been a lot of difference really. 

JON: What I was wondering is how had the people changed in the nine years between your going there and doing it in the first phase and then  going back and recreating it?

TONY: They’ve kind of had a fairly steep learning curve of how things work now, how to make things work, so particularly I see the way the family are who I stayed with, particularly the mother and the father, they are kind of:  Ah you can do that then. And how do you do that then? And how do you borrow money?  And what is a mortgage?  All of this stuff.  You know none of this existed and it’s difficult. You know, they were pretty much brainwashed by the Soviet regime when they went to school and university and it takes quite a long time to re-learn things.

JON: How close to what actually happened is in the film?

TONY: Oh I would say almost identical really.  The only changes were when … there is this guy I saw I saw in the breakaway republic there…… in the film, pretty much all that happened, the only difference was he didn’t find the cassette tape or the video cassette tape from my camera and then confront me with it. That’s the only thing that is put in.   The fact of the matter is that I saw him again in Northern Ireland and he was actually a little bit quiet and sheepish, but that’s the only thing.  The rest of it is pretty much as it happened.

JON: I was wondering that as well about the Ireland film.  How much of that is just made up?

TONY: Well, I think there was much more made up in the Ireland film actually. It was a much harder screenplay to write because every time I wrote my first draft I was saying this is too easy for this bloke, you know, everything happens, you know you need obstacles.  All the rule books of screenwriting is that you’ve got to put obstacles in the way of your protagonist and they weren’t enough, so the biggest changes was kind of….instead of the main character Tony being a believer that you’d be able to hitchhike around Ireland with a fridge, which is what I did in reality, and then turning out to be right, I twisted it round so that he sort of ends up going out there not for very noble reasons really, just trying to prove somebody wrong but he doesn’t actually want to be there and then Ireland changes him a bit really.  Then also there was the kind of … I combined a couple of the characters so that there was a love interest that sort of ran through the film and that required a little bit of movement of events, but generally speaking it was in the spirit of the thing and most of the events that happened in the film – well all of them happened in one shape or form – there was just a bit of morphing of characters going on.

JON: Well I thought they were both very interesting films, and they are ones that I am going to – I am sure – be going to be watching again and again, but what next?  What is your next project?

TONY: Well, the next thing is to…. I am writing a kid’s book and I don’t know whether I might pitch that as a book screenplay idea because it is a big adventure, but I’ve just got to finish it really.  That’s the next thing. And I’m going to do a little album of songs so I go back to music and do a jazzy album actually so we’ve got our first rehearsal and some great musicians lined up, and I’ve got these songs and we’ll see where that leads me, so I’m kind of dabbling around it all sorts of areas really instead of concentrating on one.  I am sure it’s the wrong way to go about things, but it’s good fun.

JON: Well, it’s an interesting way of going about things. It’s basically what I’ve always done, just done all sorts of different things, I would probably have had much more success in life if I had stuck to one thing.

TONY: Yeah, but I think it does come down to the definition of success, and if you are interested, and you are engaged, and you are happy, and you’ve got dinner on your table, then that’s success really.  I know quite a few people who – you know, they can’t travel on the tube because they are too well-known … they’ve got the upside of people making a fuss of them, but the downside is that they have never got any privacy, so maybe it’s better not to get too successful.

JON: I always thought from watching your films that you were a very wise man – that’s the most wisest thing I’ve heard in a long time.

TONY: There you go....

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