Editor Chris Wyatt has worked on modern classics of film and TV including Dead Man’s Shoes, Dreams Of A Life and Dead Set. Here, he talks about his work with Yann Demange on ’71, out now on DVD and Blu-Ray.
Yann Demange and I have had a close working relationship over the last nine years or so. We first met when I’d just finished on This Is England and a mutual friend suggested that we should get together. It was one of those extraordinary things: there I was, overweight in my ill-fitting blazer, with the script in a Sainsbury’s bag, and then into the room swans this uber-trendy 25 year-old, and naturally it was love at first sight. We hit up an extraordinarily close working relationship very early on.
Charlie Brooker’s E4 series Dead Set was the project that really crystallised the way in which we work, and I always think of Dead Set as Yann’s first film. When we did come to do ’71, there was never any of that first film pressure, because to me I felt that we had done it all already.
Even when I saw his film school shorts before we met, it was clear to me that he is a cinematic talent. There was never any question in my mind whether he would be making films for the big screen – that’s where he belongs. He is a cinematic director, that has always been clear, and it has been evident in everything that he’s done, but particularly on Dead Set, and I think moments of Top Boy as well.
“It’s always about what you leave out, it’s about paring it right back.”
He is very visceral, very muscular, adrenaline-fuelled, but when one steps back and you look at the work that he’s done, it’s actually the quiet moments, those moments of pausing and reflection which make him such a great cinematic talent. It’s almost unheard of to get these passages of time in television where nobody says anything; everybody’s so desperate to fill the air time with people saying the bleeding obvious.
Yann’s always been very good at being very bullish about keeping those quiet moments. A picture really is worth 1000 words, and that has always been his great strength I think. When the ’71 script came in and we were looking at it, I was amazed how little dialogue there was. It seemed to make absolute sense to me that this would be the sort of thing that would attract Yann. It’s always about what you leave out, it’s about paring it right back.
To me the audience is the final collaborator, so if you give them 95% of the whole picture, they will happily give you the extra 5%. If you engage with them they will absolutely run with you and go on that journey. And I think that’s one of the successes of ’71 – we left out everything that might have been tedious and boring and would give too much away.
For me the riot scene in ’71 is the culmination of everything we’ve done. That, for me, represents absolutely the essence of the work that we’ve done. I can die happily thinking that that’s been left and really does for me signify everything that we’ve stood for these last nine years.