Interview with Inbetweeners co-creator, writer and director Iain Morris on The Inbetweeners 2 movieIain Morris, the co-creator, writer of The Inbetweeners TV series and co-writer and director of the second film was in Auckland for the premiere of The Inbetweeners 2 and spent some time chatting about the future of the franchise, why a corpse was a threat and comedy in general...
So, Iain, everyone wants to know is there a third Inbetweeners on the way?
No definitely not - I know we said that about the second one, but we hadn't intended to do that at all and the response was so great, that people kept saying to us "Are you going to do another one?" and we'd say no, they'd say "Why not?" and you'd go "dunno" and they left feeling really disappointed. So this film was kind of the response to that.
It took us three years to come up with something that we felt was right. Damon (Beesley, co-writer and co-creator) and I were "Look let's just think about doing a second one, let's just investigate maybe the possibility of where it could happen, what could happen and what the storylines could be" and when we started doing that, we were like, "Ok maybe there is a film here.."
Even after the first one, we weren't like "we've got to do a sequel", it was more let's see if we can find something worth doing. But because of that, the film feels like a last hurrah - we're throwing everything at it. You've got to know when to leave it - it's the right time to leave the party, we don't want to overstay our welcome.
The guys were quite reticent to get involved - was it a case of showing them the script after it had been done?
Yeah, I think Damon and I had a long think about it, then we talked to them, theoretically and the truth was after a few months, they all missed each other; they are really close friends and obviously when they're not forced to be together, they hang out like friends. But like all friends who live in different places and are busy, they missed each other. Then we had a long, very bad script, which they very sweetly read and helped us with and I think that kind of did it for them and they thought it was worth doing it. I think they missed it - we certainly missed them and we just realised that very few times in your career do you get something that you love doing and people love and want more of. It felt like it's kind of totally the wrong thing to do to not respect that. We are incredibly lucky and fortunate to be where we are and I think we all appreciated that.
Do you think that this is due to the UK model of comedy, the 6 episode series rather than the US 22 episode series?
Do you mean people are still keen because there aren't so many of them?
Yep, and not sick of it because they're doing 6 - 7 months of it
Yeah, I think so, I think it probably helps. I wish there were 400 episodes of the Inbetweeners and I wish they were like the Simpsons and they were that good. But there are not, because we wrote every single one and that's how we did it. I don't know necessarily that it's a better model than the American model but I guess you have people who've created the show all over every single episode. But then if you look at Veep, they're making 12 episodes of that and they've got different groups of writers on that and that show is phenomenally good I think. Similarly, like Larry Sanders and Seinfeld, The Simpsons' quality is pretty high - and I think if you get it right, you can. If you don't, it's not right.
Were you keen to direct the second film, having stepped back from the first and having directed the final episode of the series?
We weren't really, not from the start. I think then it got to the stage where we were like we just wanted to challenge ourselves. We didn't want to repeat ourselves and the process, we wanted to try to make it more difficult for ourselves. Life's short and you want to do those sorts of things so that was why. As we were, we learnt a lot and hopefully it was okay.
The boys were unbelievably unsupportive and literally took the piss constantly about us doing it in front of everyone - including the crew the whole time. So that made it more challenging but it was great fun. Ben Palmer, who directed a lot of the series and the first film was incredibly collaborative and let us sit next to him on set so we learnt a huge amount from him, which was great.
You shot in Australia, so would you make the jump to film in New Zealand?
I'm desperate to make films here. One of my best mates is Taika Waititi, I had lunch with him yesterday and I'm in awe of everything he does, I love his films so much. I'm still good friends with Bret and Jemaine. (Of Flight Of The Conchords) I'd love to come here and make something with them. I went to stay with Bret in Wellington a year ago and he showed me all the Wellywood stuff and the studios, and it's incredible. It's an incredible set up. The trick is to find a film that I can make in New Zealand because I can't imagine anything better than shooting here.
Have you seen Taika's new film, What We Do In The Shadows?
I saw a rough cut of it for notes about a year ago and gave him some thoughts - I'm excited to see it and will probably go tomorrow night. He's a genius, a stone cold genius and Jemaine is amazing and I'm just thinking it will be a brilliant film. I mean how they did it with low budget and stuff, that's one of the reasons I love New Zealand, is that the idea that a film like that can be made and supported here, it's so brilliant.
|What We Do In The Shadows|
You've had that kind of home love with The Inbetweeners though - does that give you a bit more pressure?
The first film was quite interesting because I think everyone thought it would be shit, because they were thinking of films that had been made from sitcoms in the 1970s whereas we were thinking of it more like In The Loop, the film from The Thick Of It. And then there was the pressure but more to prove people wrong whereas this one, it was three years later and everyone was like "Oh obviously they're making a sequel to the film, and obviously this will be fine because all films based on sitcoms are fine". We were like "Wait a minute, three years ago, you said it was going to be terrible!"I felt an enormous amount of pressure then and I still do really, the box office numbers come in and you're competing against yourself really.
The first night's figures (from the UK) came in and they said it's the highest ever British box office opening for a comedy ever and I was like "Wow, oh it's a record. Who did we beat?" Erm, The Inbetweeners 1 - so we had that record already.. we were beating ourselves and losing against ourselves. I think it was an enormously pressured experience but we were lucky to have surrounded ourselves with people who were brilliant; our first AD and director of photography were particularly brilliant and the boys were very supportive in their own way; our editors are brilliant.
It seems like there's a real camaraderie between you and the boys?
Oh, they are unbelievable; the four of them together are a nightmare, but they are brilliant;they're incredibly funny. When there are car shots and it's just the four of them, they are amazing; genuinely so. A lot of it is drawn from our own experiences but they are very easy to write for; it had been a few years off, so initially Damon was like "How do we do this again, how do we..."
|Iain and Damon Beesley|
The opening sequence made me think I was watching a different film. It's audacious and different...
Thank you. We realised we were back after 3 years and we wanted to do something big and we also were just thinking about how to open a film. I think intellectually, it's a weird thing because if it hadn't been for the TV show, you wouldn't know what it was and you'd be confused I think. But I believe that you've bought a ticket that says The Inbetweeners and then you've gone to a screen that says the Inbetweeners, so you're watching that film and then you get that opening, so you have to play with expectations I think. But also you're just settling into your seats for the film and we wanted something different. You can have them walking down to an helicopter for an opening shot, which is what the original opening was, but Momaco, the production company, when they started talking about it, we thought Let's just try it. We were watching a lot of True Detective at the time as well which has got a title sequence that's a work of art - maybe titles sequences are cool again. These films just kind of start and we though it would be a cool thing to have. I'm glad you picked up on it though, as we spent a lot of time working on it and I'm still on the fence with it. It was audacious as opposed to 100% successful.
You shot in Australia at the same place as The Rover, Marree - how was that?
All of Australia was great; Wet'n'Wild where we shot on the Gold Coast was incredibly helpful to us despite what the final product was! We were very secretive about what we were doing and when they saw it at the end, they were "Oh, this happens all the time, we've got a button that just clears it all out!"
We had to shoot before the park was open so all of their staff were there at 4 in the morning, that was great but Marree was something else entirely. It was like a dream, shooting there. You had a totally empty location; logistically I didn't have to worry about getting there. There was a point though when I was driving the boys out there when I became hysterical though. It's a 2 1/2 hour drive after a 2 1/2 hour flight from Adelaide so it's properly remote. And about an hour in, I knew trucks were coming in from Melbourne and from Adelaide and that we were doubling the size of Marree and I just thought " This is not how a proper director does it" This is like making a film on the moon and setting it on the moon...they get lost in the outback in the film and so you'd better find a place in the outback...it was 50 degrees some days; but the people who run that pub in Marree are exceptional, incredibly welcoming and friendly, so that when we came back after shooting it, it was exciting. I found it genuinely quite moving when I left Marree - I love this place and it was weird. There is no way I will not go back to that place in my life. It's about as alien a spot on the planet - I felt really at home there. In the mornings we'd drive out, the sun was coming out over the Outback, it was beautiful. What a place....I've got to see The Rover yet, and David Field who was in that, is in our film too.
Criticisms about the gross out humour have been levelled at the film - The Daily Mail has slammed it; how do you feel about that?
Well, I think, if the Daily Mail likes it, then we've probably done something wrong! I don't pay attention to anything else it says, so we've had good reviews in the likes of The Times and The Telegraph and I think they get it. People in general get it. Weirdly cinematic experiences aren't about beautiful shots, to me they're about really laughing hard in a cinema with 400 other people which you don't get if you watch a TV show.
You were mercilessly teased on set - how did that make the directing experience?
Whatever you imagine, times it by 10 - (James) Buckley's a comic genius and very quick - as is Joe Thomas; you think Blake is sleeping but he has killer one-liners but Simon Bird is the worst, because what Simon Bird does is he's like a little stirrer. He stirs it all up, gets it going, then he stands back and pretends he's totally innocent. It took us about a series to work that out. He's the one that starts it all then the others carry it on.
We were trying to set up a shot, having a discussion with the DOP in Byron Bay, I was having a conversation with him about alienation and why I thought it was important and I could hear the four boys standing next to me saying "If we dug up a corpse from a graveyard, it could direct this film better than Iain. Shall we just get a scarecrow?" I'm trying to block that out while they're a foot away from me. Like an abused spouse, they can do whatever they like to me because I'd be back saying "I love you..."
The Inbetweeners 2 hits New Zealand cinemas on August 28th.