Film4 Channel

Film4 Summer Screen at Somerset House 2016

24 May, 2016 Posted in: Film4 Channel, Film4 Summer Screen

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Film4 Summer Screen at Somerset House, London’s groundbreaking open-air film festival, returns between 4-17 August, with a prestigious programme of classic and contemporary films, and a total of three UK premieres.

PREMIERES

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The 2016 season will open with the UK premiere of the critically-acclaimed Things To Come. Isabelle Huppert gives a commanding performance in Eden director Mia Hansen-Løve’s smart Paris-set drama, which explores how it feels to have led a full life yet still be searching for answers.

Pedro Almodóvar will make a special appearance at this year’s festival to introduce his 20th feature film Julieta, which was in competition at Cannes. Representing a return to the female-centric storytelling of many of Almodóvar’s most notable works, such as Volver and Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, a younger and older version of the film’s protagonist Julieta confronts the loves and losses of her life. 

The season will close with the UK premiere of Cannes award-winner Captain Fantastic, directed by Matt Ross, which follows the heartfelt story of a father (Viggo Mortensen) whose idealistic parenting comes under attack when his family is forced to leave their sheltered paradise and enter the world.

SPECIAL SCREENINGS

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Two special screenings will celebrate cinema icons – master filmmaker Stanley Kubrick and one of the most inspired and influential British films of all-time Trainspotting.

This year’s Best of 10 vote will coincide with Daydreaming with Stanley Kubrick, an exhibition of works created by contemporary artists, filmmakers and musicians and inspired by Stanley Kubrick at Somerset House from 6 July – 24 August. The public ballot will allow the audience to choose their favourite Kubrick film from a list of his 10 most famous movies. The vote-winning title will be revealed in front of the Somerset House audience on the night of the screening itself.

To celebrate the 20th anniversary of Film4’s Trainspotting, and ahead of the 2017 release of sequel T2, Film4 Summer Screen at Somerset House will put Danny Boyle’s controversial 1996 hit back on the big screen in its original 35mm format.

ALSO SHOWING

Alex Garland's Ex Machina, backed by Film4

In addition, Film4 Summer Screen at Somerset House will stage a typically eclectic mix of movies, from comedy and musical to horror and sci-fi. Sundown DJ sets inspired by the screenings will set the mood before the films begin.

Saturday nights will see double bills of Ex Machina and RoboCop, two dark futuristic visions that bring together Man and Machine, and Galaxy Quest and 2015’s The Final Girls (unreleased theatrically in the UK), a pair of comedies that take a fun twist on the sci-fi and horror genres.

There will be classics in Sunset Boulevard, the fable of fading movie star Norma Desmond, the fashionable affair of Audrey Hepburn and Fred Astaire in Funny Face and 90s teen rom-com classic 10 Things I Hate About You. Legendary directors will feature with Quentin Tarantino’s crime caper Jackie Brown and Francis Ford Coppola’s flamboyantly frightening adaptation of Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Finally, landscapes and coming-of-age experiences will contrast with Australian outback adventure Walkabout and the gritty realities of urban life in the Parisian suburbs portrayed in the gripping Girlhood.

FULL PROGRAMME

August 4              THINGS TO COME (UK PREMIERE)

August 5              BRAM STOKER’S DRACULA

August 6              EX MACHINA + ROBOCOP

August 7              SUNSET BOULEVARD

August 8              10 THINGS I HATE ABOUT YOU

August 9              WALKABOUT

August 10            JULIETA (UK PREMIERE)

August 11            WINNER OF BEST OF 10 KUBRICK VOTE

August 12            JACKIE BROWN

August 13            GALAXY QUEST + THE FINAL GIRLS

August 14            FUNNY FACE

August 15            TRAINSPOTTING

August 16            GIRLHOOD

August 17            CAPTAIN FANTASTIC (UK PREMIERE)

Tickets for Film4 Summer Screen at Somerset House go on sale at 10am on Thursday 26th May. For more information visit the Somerset House website.

Paul Goodwin on Future Shock! The Story Of 2000 AD

04 Apr, 2016 Posted in: Directors, Documentaries, Film4 Channel, Interview

As Future Shock! The Story Of 2000 AD receives its TV premiere, director Paul Goodwin talks to Film4 site editor Michael Leader about making a documentary about the Galaxy’s Greatest Comic, home to iconic characters such as Judge Dredd, and launchpad for some of the medium’s most influential writers and artists…

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ML: What’s your history with 2000 AD? Were/are you a reader?

PG: Yes! Pretty much everyone involved in the production of the film are fans of 2000 AD of one era or another – it’s a real passion project for us all.

I first came to it in about 1986. I borrowed a stack of old progs from a school friend and it all just blew my tiny mind! I remember reading some Rogue Troopers, Nemesis The Warlock and my first Judge Dredd was the Judge Child Quest. Immediately I was experiencing these crazy worlds and characters that were totally different to anything I’d ever read – I was hooked. I spent every day after school down at the comic shop in Harrow, and every weekend traipsing around Denmark Street and Paradise Alley cleaning them out of back issues for pennies. It was a seminal experience. Once you experience 2000 AD it stays with you for life!

When producing a film like this, where do you start? Were you looking at other documentaries, either about comics or not, to figure out the structure, tone and approach?

In terms of other documentaries, we definitely liked Mark Hartley’s Not Quite Hollywood, and talked about the tone and pace, and we wanted to create something similar for our subject. We didn’t have the luxury of all that great footage in NQH to use as cutaways though, but we did have nearly 40 years of fucking awesome artwork!

Structure-wise we knew we would use the rough chronological spine, but there were certain important aspects we wanted to focus on such as the state of the comics scene before 2000 AD in the 70s, the migration of talent to the US in the 80s and the troubles the comic went through during the 90s. These were all things that, as fans, we wanted to know about ourselves, so it was great fun exploring those subjects in the interviews. We also delved into the inspiration behind the characters, which gave us the chance to explore the very heart of 2000 AD, the subversion and the anarchy!

Another crucial element of the film is the soundtrack, composed by Justin Greaves of Crippled Black Phoenix. He’s also a massive 2000 AD fan, and we all agreed that the music needed to add attitude and a punk dynamic to reflect the 2000 AD experience. It’s amazing, perfect.

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Interviewing writer Neil Gaiman…

There are so many moving parts in a production like this – interviewee access, clip clearances, imagery rights, not to mention everything that comes after the film itself is finished. What’s the hardest part of the process?

Overall, the entire project has been a joy to work on, but I’ll admit that the stuff after post production can be a bit of a drag. The film is finished and you have like another year’s worth of admin! Luckily the subject matter is something I cared about so much it was never a chore. By far the most difficult part was the legal side. 2000 AD has had quite few fiery and passionate personalities involved over the years, and so there was a busy task of ironing out any potential litigious content. Also with all the clips and artwork to clear there were endless trims and edits back and forth to keep our lawyer happy. That process went on for months, not cheap either…

Interviewing 2000 AD creator Pat Mills...

Interviewing 2000 AD creator Pat Mills…

The roster of writers, artists, editors and 2000 AD comrades that you interview in the film is incredible. Of course, they’re all remarkable, but do you have any personal favourites?

It was a genuine honour to meet and chat about comics with all our contributors and I thank each one for giving up their time to speak to us. Everyone was hugely supportive of the project and their passion and openness on camera was a testament to what an impact 2000 AD has had on us all.

I would say that our interview with Pat Mills was very important, that was the moment we knew we had a great spine for the documentary. He’s so important to the history of the comic, he recognised that we wanted to do a very thorough job and was happy to talk at length about anything and everything to do with the 2000 AD.

We were also very lucky to sit down with Alex Garland for a couple of hours; he’s not known for doing many interviews but told us he was happy to be involved as 2000 AD was such a seminal influence. On a personal note, it was a huge honour to interview Peter Milligan, whose work I’ve admired for many years.

Where would you recommend a newcomer to 2000 AD start, if their interest in the comic is piqued after watching the film?

Ha! Well, apart from signing up for the prog every week… I’d send people straight to DR & Quinch. S’right!

Future Shock! The Story Of 2000 AD premieres on Film4 at 11.25pm on Wednesday 6th April 2016, as part of Dark Futures Season.

Lowell Dean on WolfCop

17 Dec, 2015 Posted in: Film4 Channel, Interview

As his lycanthropic comedy-horror WolfCop receives its TV premiere on Film4, writer-director Lowell Dean talks to Film4.com editor Michael Leader about practical effects, making films in Canada, and previously-unseen werewolf anatomy…

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What was the starting point for WolfCop? Did the title come first, and everything flowed from there?

As ridiculous as it sounds, WolfCop was born when I was trying to decide between writing a werewolf script… and a cop script. Out of frustration, I smashed the two together and instantly fell in love with the idea. I called it WolfCop, but I wasn’t sold on the title until I started testing it on friends. They would always respond with laughter and excitement.

It’s clear that you are dedicated to the practical make-up and gore effects, especially during the transformation scene – which is an essential component of all great werewolf movies. What do you think makes a good werewolf transformation, and how did you bring that to WolfCop?

In my opinion a good transformation scene requires two things. First, you need amazing special effects – be they digital or practical. Second, you need a unique approach to the material, something to set your movie apart from the rest.

For WolfCop, we knew we didn’t have the budget to do something as epic as An American Werewolf in London – which for me is the benchmark of transformation scenes. We knew we would be lucky to get 4 or 5 effects shots in our movie, so we focused on the question “what have we not seen before?” For me, the answer was a werewolf penis. We always see hands… eyes… teeth… hair growing…and so on. Once I said “werewolf penis” out loud, and once Emersen Ziffle (Practical Effects Artist) and I finished laughing, we knew we had to do it!

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When making WolfCop, what were your key touchstones when it comes to wolf films, cop films and comedy-horrors?

I had a long list. For me it was less about cop films and werewolf films, more about films that walk the line between horror and comedy, or just general weirdness. Inspiring projects like Ghostbusters, Shaun of the Dead, An American Werewolf in London, Evil Dead, Twin Peaks… the list goes on!

We recently interviewed the Soska Sisters, and they said it was hard to succeed as filmmakers in Canada due to the overwhelming influence of the States. What was it like trying to come up as a filmmaker based in Saskatchewan? And was it hard to get WolfCop off the ground?

I won’t lie, being a filmmaker coming up in Saskatchewan was definitely a challenge. I’m sure it’s the same all across Canada. That being said, I was lucky enough to have a small and passionate group of friends around me who eat, sleep, and breathe independent film.

Despite our collective passion, it was very hard to get WolfCop off the ground. After some rejection, our team entered the project into the first ever CineCoup Accelerator – a nationwide incubator for Canadian film. We were lucky enough to be selected (from 90 possible projects), ensuring we’d have a million dollar budget, and a release in Canadian theatres.

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What were the key things you learned from the process of developing and producing the film via CineCoup?

The CineCoup process was 3 months long, and just as challenging (if not more so) than making the actual movie! Each week we had to produce a two minute video outlining a different aspect of our project… and then engage people on social media as they’d rate our videos, ask questions, and vote for which teams should stay or be eliminated. It was intense! In the end, it was also very rewarding – and not just because our project was the one selected.

It was rewarding to get feedback on a weekly basis. It was so weird to know – months before we even shot the movie – what people were hoping and expecting from WolfCop! It was a very unique and backwards approach to filmmaking and connecting to an audience. I learned a lot!

WolfCop screens on Film4 at 11.25pm on Saturday 19th December 2015.

Jen & Sylvia Soska on American Mary

23 Oct, 2015 Posted in: Film4 Channel, Interview

Three years after its world premiere at Film4 FrightFest 2012, the Soska Sisters’ American Mary receives its UK TV premiere as part of Film4′s Halloween Weekend line-up on October 30th. To mark the occasion, the twin writer-directors speak with Film4.com editor Michael Leader about their gory body-modification horror.

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Where did the interest in the body modification scene come from?

Sylvia Soska: There was an April Fools’ prank that got us interested in the body modification scene that featured two identical twin brothers doing a limb swap, but the fascination with the BM scene initially started from Clive Barker’s masterpiece, Hellraiser, which we saw at the ripe old age of 12. I think people have so many avenues of interest within them to express themselves and BM is a form with so many different subsections of who is doing what and why. When I met Clive before we went into production, I talked to him about the body mod scene and he was so wonderfully supportive. Making a film like this when it was made was an uphill battle the entire way; having people who supported it like my parents, Todd Masters of Masters FX, Katharine Isabelle, and Eli Roth there to support made the film possible.

Jen Soska: Our mum taught us that fear comes from a lack of understanding and ignorance so if something frightens you, educate yourself about it. When I first stumbled across body modification I didn’t know what to think. BM is so negatively portrayed by the media and truly for no good reason. I don’t understand why cosmetic surgery is deemed as acceptable whereas BM is seen as the actions of an unstable mind when in reality nothing could be further from the truth. BM is the pursuit of the individual finding and expressing their identity and what they feel is beautiful. They’re doing it for themselves. I find many times cosmetic surgery is a social pressure to conform and look in the “one ideal way of beauty”, the North American ideal.

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Katharine Isabelle makes a perfect Mary. How did you come to cast her? Had you seen her in (Canadian teen-horror classic) Ginger Snaps?

S: The way we were introduced to Katharine’s work was through Ginger Snaps. We were teased excessively growing up and eventually they started calling us the Fitzgerald sisters which was her and Emily Perkins’ characters in the film. We watched the movie and those characters made us feel strong. I loved the relationship between sisters and puberty explored through werewolfism. After that, I found every film I could with Katharine in it. She is always fantastic – literally one of the most gifted actresses to ever grace the screen – but I grew frustrated that there wasn’t a better example of how versatile she is. We wrote the script with her in mind – things I as a fan wanted to see.

J: Katie is a phenomenal actress. We’d been long time fans of her work and were frustrated to not see her get bigger opportunities. In Canada, it almost feels like you hit this glass ceiling of success. To truly succeed you need to move to the States. There are so many projects that shoot in Canada but hire American talent for no good reason. We wanted to work with Katie and see her in this role as she, up until that point, hadn’t been given the chance to play this really complex and a mature character and we knew she’d be able to pull it off effortlessly. Which she did!

I love your cameo as the freaky twins who want to strengthen the ‘connection between themselves and each other’ through body modification. How does that connection work in real life, do you work as a demonic duo or do you have separate roles in the creative process?

S: That’s a great question! The Demon Twins of Berlin were created from what people expect us to be when they meet us. In reality, we’re very bubbly and happy, but they expect someone sultry and dangerous with a bit of a crazy edge. I don’t think there is a stronger relationship than being a twin. We have spent the last 32 years together and working as a team. We are different sides of the same coin. Jen has this beautiful heart and she is so good with people, her creativity comes from a world I wish I could live in, in our company she is the Chairman and I’m the President, we are a team ‘til the end. She’s just amazing – and funny, it’s a dry sense of humour but it works.

J: My twin is my favourite person ever. We’re two sides of the same coin. She’s such a talented artist and has this dark, brilliant mind. I’m fortunate to have been born with her so I get to work with her and share all our adventures together. On set and in life, we divide and conquer. We can communicate with just a look. We’re quite the force to be reckoned with. Sylv always pushes me to be better and stronger and I think it shows in our lives and work.

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What was your route into the horror genre, both as filmmakers and fans? Did any particular films or directors inspire you?

S: My mum is what got me into horror. Every little girl wants to be as cool as their mom and ours has always been so funny, brave, and artistic. We started with Poltergeist, but Todd Masters’ work on Tales from the Crypt and Six Feet Under hooked us forever on makeup and FX. Our inspirations are Wes Craven, Mary Harron, Takashi Miike, Dario Argento, Clive Barker, John Carpenter, Eli Roth, and John Landis. I love what Richard Bates Jr (Excision, Suburban Gothic) has been doing in all of his films – he just has this undeniable quality of genuine humanity in his films. I adore Adam Wingard and Simon Barrett’s film work – they are so effortlessly stylish and cool. [Wingard & Barrett’s You’re Next premieres on Film4 on October 31st - Ed]

J: SO many. Everyone Sylv mentioned, of course. Robert Rodriguez was a big one. He literally inspired a generation of filmmakers to get off their asses and make their own movies. He’s a big part of the reason why we do what we do. Him and Tarantino. Anyone that talks shit about Tarantino is a jackass. It’s like those douche bags that say “the Beatles were overrated”. Tarantino has changed cinema. He’s an icon. He’s defied genre filmmaking by making his own brand of films that aren’t part of any genre and are part of every genre all at once. He’s a genius.

This is such a Canadian film – from the cast and crew to the shooting location. Why did you title it ‘American Mary’?

S: The working title was Lab Rat because the story focused so much on vengeance from Rat, the first under the table surgery she does, but because of the way that scenario turns out, it didn’t seem like the right catalyst to her descent to her grave. The surgery on Ruby was the one that there were many opportunities to get out of, yet Mary still decided to do the surgery. Self-preservation and self-promotion selfishly drove her actions into a darker area which would lead to her death. The story is so much hers, that it had to be Mary. Bloody Mary didn’t make sense because that’s only a fraction of what’s going on here. There’s a song I love by The National called ‘American Mary’ and our Mary lived in Seattle, chasing the American dream.

J: As I said before, you can’t really achieve ultimate success, particularly in our fields, without going to America. It’s the land of dreams and where everything is possible. The story itself wouldn’t have worked as African Mary or Australia Mary or even British Mary and certainly not Canadian Mary. I hate to say it, but America is the land obsessed with appearances and the constant pressure to look this way or be more beautiful or thinner or have bigger boobs or a smaller nose. This obsession with an unachievable ideal of perfection is the downfall of many and something that we all invest way too much time in. But it’s encouraged in America. It also gave us the right setting to compare BM to cosmetic surgery. One is acceptable, one is not. But what is really the difference between the two aside from one is done to “fit in” and the other is the pursuit of one’s own beauty and individuality? And, curiously, that’s the form that is villainised.

American Mary premieres on Film4 on Friday 30th October 2015, as part of Halloween Weekend.

Toby Amies on The Man Whose Mind Exploded

13 Jul, 2015 Posted in: Behind The Scenes, Film4 Channel

Ahead of the TV premiere of The Man Whose Mind Exploded, Film4.com editor Michael Leader speaks with director Toby Amies about his fascinating documentary about the friendship he forged with the colourful but fragile Brighton-based eccentric Drako Zarhazar…

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How did you first meet Drako?

When I first saw Drako he cycled past me – heavily made up, with facial piercings and tattoos, in a cape! A case of WHAT? WHO? WHY? As I’m sure the rest of the country is wearily aware, Brighton is an aggregator for wannabe eccentrics and needy show-offs, but Drako was the real thing, an original, unmatched and Kemptown’s King of the Queens. My first thought was “I have to know what the story is there”. As Drako put it “My career was on stage and now the world is my stage”. Fairly soon after I saw of him, a friend of mine David Bramwell was given some money by the Arts Council to make a film for his band to perform the soundtrack to and asked me to direct it. He took me to meet Drako as he was to be the star of the film, the Ballad of Oddfellow, which can be seen online still. When I met Drako he was most charming and wonderfully strange, and when I caught glimpses of his flat over his shoulder I was determined to know more.

At what point did you think about making a film about him? And what was it in particular that you were interested in – his eccentric personality, the specifics of his life with brain damage, or something else?

The filmmaking process was sort of organic, we started with the silent film and then I took some photographic portraits of Drako which led to pitching a documentary about his extraordinary biography to Radio 4. That became a programme for their It’s My Story strand which was nominated for the Prix Europa and produced by Sarah Jane Hall. When it came out several people approached me to talk about the possibility of turning it into a film, I think it’s because the radio documentary created such a vivid picture in people’s minds. Maybe people wanted to see just how many hundreds of cut-out and collaged willies Drako had in one small space… and now the Film4 audience has a chance to count the cocks! We are pretty sure it is a record-breaking number and had some interesting conversations with the BBFC, apparently the angle at which the member presents itself is crucial. When I started really getting into the nitty-gritty of the filmmaking process I had both Ross McElwee’s brilliant Sherman’s March and Richard Fleischer’s Fantastic Voyage as I wanted to make a movie that was acutely personal but also one that was a voyage of discovery, an exploration of what’s inside the mind.

One of my favourite show business maxims says that filmmaking is all in the casting, and even though at the time I’d never made a feature film before, it was clear that in Drako I had a superstar to work with. Initially the attraction had to do with his exotic, fascinating biography that included work with Salvador Dali, Gerard Malanga from Warhol’s Factory, and Derek Jarman, but that was rather dry onscreen and attention tended, as it does, to be drawn onto the celebrities. Drako had to be the star and my guide as to how to make the film. Once I’d done some filming, I took the trailer to various commissioners and rapidly realised that for the film to be made under the TV umbrella it would have to have been formulaic and possibly exploitative. Even though I was disappointed by the experience, I came out even more determined to make something that came out of a more gentle and sensitive process.

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As you became closer to Drako, and started caring for him more directly, did your sense of the film you were making change at all?

Very soon my relationship with Drako was more than professional, it was a friendship, and I began to feel a responsibility to him that was greater then any need to place him in some preconceived narrative. I once heard someone being berated at a film festival by an old master: “You’ve broken the first rule of documentary making and fallen in love with your subject!” and I remember thinking “Fuuuck! that’s EXACTLY what I’ve done”, let’s see if it works… But also that is what the film is about for me, love and the pain of loving someone who doesn’t seem to care for themselves as much as you care for them and not being able to walk away and having to adapt your perception of the universe to accommodate theirs and being changed (hopefully for the better), as a consequence.

My beautiful sister Catherine, to whom the film is dedicated, was dying from Diabetes as I was making it, and  there was a shared dynamic between many of the conversations I had with her and those I had with Drako. The film explores the morality of giving people agency to make their own decisions about their welfare and destiny whilst examining the repercussions of doing so.

There is a point in The Man Whose Mind Exploded where the image quality becomes especially bad, and that to me identifies the point where the making of the film becomes less important than the very human friendship it records. The sweet spot, where life and art fuse in some very shaky camerawork. I suppose it seeks to document something invisible, the difficult bond between two people, carer and the cared-for and what that relationship means.

There came a point where I had to accept Drako’s philosophy and trust: absolutely and unconditionally that there was going to be a way of divining some kind of narrative meaning and story out of what was happening because what was happening took precedence, a lot of the filming was reactive as I was just trying to keep up!

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Throughout the film, it’s clear that Drako doesn’t immediately remember you across your many visits. As he puts it, ‘you’re new every time’. What challenges did that present?

More than anything else it was just difficult to maintain a relationship with someone who’d forgotten about you. Even though I knew roughly how his mind worked it was hard not to be hurt that I was new to him every time, and it was extremely frustrating that the lengthy conversations we had about his care would go nowhere. I adored Drako but he was extremely stubborn. That all said when I started making the film I watched a superb documentary about Clive Wearing, who had a similar type of amnesia to Drako. Because of the repeated nature of his experience, Clive Wearing had a very short memory span of under 30 seconds, the documentary concentrates more on the experience of his wife Deborah who is an extraordinary human being and has gone on to write a memoir Forever Today on the subject. With her patient, forgiving and selfless example in the face of enormous difficulties in mind, I felt lucky the Drako I knew could communicate with me as much as he did over time. With regard to how it affected the film, it gave me the challenge and opportunity of having to present how it was entering Drako’s never-ending now. There was something hypnotic about visiting that place, and the artwork he created in it seemed to be designed both to remind everyone including himself who Drako was, but also it had a mesmerising effect, a sense that time stopped when the door shut.

What’s the story behind the nickname ‘Toby Jug’? 

It’s just another example of the mnemonics Drako would use to try and make something stay in his brain. Toby jugs are squat pottery vessels used to caricature people. There was sometimes a sense from that that Drako’s memory loss was not as consistent as you might expect, or even that he might have been regaining it a little. But he lived in a giant aide memoire, designed to do what his mind couldn’t, that’s the origin of the film’s title, as an invitation into his home was an invitation into his mind.

The Man Whose Mind Exploded premieres on Film4 on Thursday 16th July at 12.30am.