Fantastic Accidents: PADDY CONSIDINE

Published on 29 December 2012

[“I] sometimes think I am far too self-conscious to be any good at acting. You shouldn’t be thinking about where the camera is, you should just be living in that moment. A lot of actors get the words, put on the clothes and then disappear – that is their art. But more and more I felt restricted by the process of making films. I was spoiled in my first two films – I was quite free to do whatever I felt. Sometimes the process can feel a little bit mechanical and that creativity can be sucked out of it. Some people thrive in that atmosphere, and they would find the film sets of Shane Meadows or Pawel Pawlikowski, which are like playgrounds, too chaotic. I’ve seen people unravel in that environment. But you don’t get great cinematic moments by being chained. There’s this scene from On the Waterfront when Brando is walking with the girl and she drops her glove. He picks it up and he starts to stroke it and it becomes significant, symbolic of their relationship. Just this one little gesture, he is nurturing this glove. It’s cinematic history. On some films, she would have dropped the glove and the actor would have said, ‘Oh, sorry, I’ve dropped my glove,’ and they would have said, ‘All right, let’s go again.’ Or at the end of the take the director would have asked to do the scene again. Acting should not be mechanical. There’s an art to it. Some people are great at it and some people aren’t. You know within a frame if you can let something go or not. I always find that the best cinema exists in those beautiful little accidents.

When I was directing Tyrannosaur, I didn’t want the same level of improvisation that Shane Meadows allows his actors. The actors could embellish what was there, but I didn’t want them to re-write or ad-lib. I wasn’t making that kind of film. I wouldn’t let people in the edit room to talk to the editor and have any influence. I felt like I was just doing my own thing, and setting my own rules. I suppose I was quite a control freak. Nil By Mouth was a huge influence on me. I don’t think I would have set about making Tyrannosaur if it wasn’t for Nil By Mouth, because then I understood how a film could be personal, not autobiographical to the letter, but still personal. People are still looking at that film as a benchmark, as inspiration, and as a reason to make movies. That is the victory of those kinds of films. I hope that in 15 years’ time, people will do the same with Tyrannosaur.”

Paddy Considine’s BAFTA award-winning directorial debut, Tyrannosaur, was released in 2011. He is best known for his on-screen performances including A Room for Romeo Brass, Dead Man’s Shoes, and Le Donk & Scor-zay-zee. He also stars in Ol Parker’s film Now is Good, out this summer.