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[Interview] – Jonathan Sothcott – ‘Age Of Kill’ – A Feature Film

 

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Posted May 29, 2015 by

 
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1) You are a British Producer recently described as ‘one of the most prolific producers of British action Movies’ by the Hollywood Reporter. Tell us more about yourself and your notable films.

I’ve been making films since 2007. I started my company Richwater Films in 2013, everything changed for me with our first film, the vigilante movie Vendetta. It was a powerful movie, expertly directed and blessed with Danny Dyer’s best performance. It was very well received and a big success on DVD in the UK. Since then we’ve made a number of other movies including Age of Kill, Bonded By Blood 2 and We Still Kill The Old Way and I am now working on its sequel We Still Steal The Old Way. I’ve made a lot of London crime films in the past but I am now trying to make films that work a little better further afield than the UK.

2) How did you come to be a producer? How did you begin your career and enter the film industry?

I started out wanting to be a film journalist and somehow blagged myself a job as Head of Programming at The Horror Channel when I was 24. I was then very lucky to fall under the wing of legendary British producer/director David Wickes who taught me the ropes of production. I then met actor Martin Kemp who very graciously let me use his name to open doors that otherwise wouldn’t have been open to me. I had been a fan of both David and Martin growing up, I’m very lucky they both believed in me and gave me a start. Martin wanted to direct when I met him and we made a short film together and then a feature called Stalker. Once you’ve made one film it all becomes much easier. Around 2009 I started making films starring the actor Danny Dyer – we made the good (Devil’s Playground), the bad (Just For The Record) and the ugly (7 Lives)! But Danny was and is a big star and it got me known as ‘the guy who makes Danny Dyer films’. Which really wasn’t a bad tag to have. We even made a football video together – Danny Dyer’s Football Foul Ups, which was a big stocking filler in 2009. And then we both made a load of rubbish films without each other – to the point where I was considering leaving the industry I’d become so disenchanted… when along came Vendetta and changed everything. Since then I’ve not stopped working.

3) Your latest film is called ‘Age Of Kill’ that premiered on the 21st of May at Southend Film Festival, tell us more about your latest project, how did you get involved?

I’m very fortunate to have a deal with the distributor Anchor Bay/Platform Entertainment to make 4 movies a year for them. I pitched them the ideas of a ticking clock spy movie and something about a guy going undercover with a terrorist cell in London (ID with terrorists instead of hooligans) – neither was quite strong enough but writer Simon Cluett managed to fuse the two and come up with a story that combined the best elements of both. The guys at Anchor Bay green lit it with Martin Kemp attached to star and off we went. The whole process from idea to the green light was about 2 months. I was very pleased to have Martin playing the lead because although we’ve been close friends for the best part of a decade, the only acting he’d done for me was cameos in questionable B movies so it was lovely giving him a platform to actually show what a terrific actor he can be.

4) How involved are you in the project, are you the only producer? Did you have any involvement with the script?

Haha only the producer! Really I just make the tea. In the indie movie arena, or at least our ones, projects are generally producer-lead. One comes up with the idea or buys the script, attaches the director, raises the money, crews up, casts it, sells it, oversees the marketing… I think there’s a misconception that we just turn up for lunch in a long coat smoking a cigar and trample on the creatives’ feelings and it really isn’t true. I’m very involved in some scripts, less so in others – for example on We Still Steal The Old Way I worked very closely with Simon Cluett and Sacha Bennett from the concept through to revisions on script (and it was an utter joy). One of the things I learned from Martin Kemp years ago was that you can’t be precious about your own ideas – you go with whoever in the room has the best idea. Contrarily on Bonded By Blood 2 I wasn’t involved with the script at all really – it was another Simon Cluett script and based on Bernard O’Mahoney’s book Essex Boys: The New Generation and I really left Simon and director Greg Hall to get on with it as it was a fairly straightforward adaptation. Again, it was a lot of fun and Bernie has been very supportive, as has Terry Stone who I bought the sequel rights from. Terry is a producer I really admire – he gets on and gets films made, he’s a no bullshit kind of guy.

5) We understand you are opening your own film studio, ‘Peacock Film Studios’, tell us more about this?

Yes, in Canning Town in East London – it will be open for business very shortly. Since Wimbledon Studios, which I used a lot, went bust last year I have been looking for a space to potentially build my own. I was at the Peacock Gym in Canning Town with Billy Murray and the gym’s owners who are friends of mine showed me this space and my eyes just lit up. It’s not a Pinewood or an Elstree but it is absolutely perfect for independent films, music videos etc – and our plan is to rent it out when we’re not using it (if that ever happens!). Billy pulled the whole thing together – the deal, all the renovations and everything, it’s a project I could never have undertaken without him – he’s a remarkable man. He’s also just done an amazing turn as the villain in We Still Steal The Old Way – if you liked him as Don Beech or Johnny Allen you’re going to love his new bad boy Vic Farrow.

6) Have you any plans to move into acting or writing?

Acting? Good lord no. I wouldn’t know where to start. Not that that stops a lot of people. But no, I’ve no interest in acting. Sometimes I’ll write or co-write a treatment but I don’t have the time or the attention span to commit to 90 pages of screenplay. I dabble in the odd bit of journalism, mainly for GQ magazine… and last year I had fun co-writing a book called The Films of Danny Dyer with my friend James Mullinger. Danny and I did some book signings for it, which were a lot of fun! I keep telling myself I’ll write another book soon but I’m always up against the clock making films.

7) What is the next step for you? Do you have any other projects in production?

Yes very much so. In September I’m making an action movie called 52 Pick Up, which is essentially The Hunger Games for hit men. Then in November I’m doing a terrific vampire movie tentatively entitled Reign of Blood, which will be directed by the actor Jason Fleymng, who I absolutely adore and can’t wait to work with. Both are fantastic scripts from great writers. We’ll be doing another Vendetta film too. I’ve also got a comedy project in the works, something that will surprise people. And I’ve just optioned a very interesting book about The Krays, which is very different to anything else ever done about them. So the future’s bright.

 

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Adam Snowden
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