Dean Cavanagh – interview
Taking British film making to a totally new sphere, the multi-talented Dean Cavanagh plays out his fascination with Stanley Kubrick, symbols, codes and messages to give us ÃÂ esoteric independent film ‘Kubricks’.
Dean has joined forces with his son Josh and Alan McGee on the project which was filmed in just five days in Hay on Wye.
Louder Than War writer Carl Stanley grabbed a chat with Dean about the new film.
LTW: Tell us about your film ‘Kubricks’ Dean as you’ve taken the leap into directing on this haven’t you?
“I’d never really thought about directing a film until Alan McGee put it in my head.
“I’ve spent so long concentrating on writing screenplays, usually with Irvine Welsh, that it just never came up. Alan really encouraged me to have a go, I’ve had a go at pretty much everything else in the arts so why not?.
“We wanted to do something improvisational and experimental so “Kubricks”Â was born. It’s a minuscule budget, a very DIY feature set on Alan’s land in Hay On Wye, a creatively organic film that tells the story of a wannabe director who has no script, no budget and no cast or crew. What he does have is imagination though, a surfeit of it, so as he undergoes a therapy session he starts to construct the film in his mind and we get to witness the results.
“Roger Evans (a brilliant actor) plays the lead and is supported by Joanna Pickering and Gavin Bain. The guy playing the therapist, Chris Madden is just that, so it was pretty intense and unintentionally funny when we got them in the room together.
“The story is kind of mirroring the production process itself. It sort of turns in on itself.”
LTW: Wasn’t the script something you initially stopped then went back to, and which your son Josh started to work on with you?
“There was no script as such but my son Josh kept chipping in ideas. I’d prefer it if he stuck to Brazilian Ju Jitsu but he’s really into film so it felt right bringing him on board.
“The shoot was a real joy, very free and easy and a really good laugh, we camped out in torrential rain and all just mucked in, literally.
“The one thing we didn’t allow was egotism. It was a little edgy at first and everyone was confused because they were told nothing about the idea until they arrived. As it progressed though the spirit was found and we got rolling.
“We think we’ve got a very interesting film but obviously everything’s subjective.”
LTW: Whats at the heart of that creative partnership between you and Alan McGee?
“The thing that really connects me and Alan is our interest in the esoteric side of life.
“The films we’ll make will definitely have aspects of magik, occultism and synchromysticism woven in, not in any malevolent respect, more on a tangent of finding fascination in the hidden and forbidden and exploring transgression.
“I love films that beg repeated viewings, Stanley Kubrick was clearly the master of hidden symbolism, depths and hooking people in to analyse his work.
“Our film is, I suppose, a kind of homage to him and the devotees of his craft.
“We both love characters, people with interesting takes on reality and life. I tend to gravitate towards either creative people or destructive people, there’s that same kind of extreme energy at both ends of the spectrum.
“I’ve just got too long in the tooth to deal with mediocre people anymore, they are energy vampires in my opinion. You can feel your juices evaporating whilst you talk to them. There’s a lot of them around. You’ve got to be careful.”
LTW:ÃÂ So maybe you, Josh and Alan might go further on together, working on future projects
“I’ve got a catholic taste in culture so there’s no telling what we might try.
“My son, Josh Cavanagh, is a bit more discerning than me and more focused on what type of films he wants to make, which is cool. The only stipulations that me and Alan McGee have is that we keep full control over all financial and creative decisions.
“There really is no plan other than to make films we want to make about things that excite us. I’ve seen too many people who profess to want to make films turn into dickheads once the cheque books come out. I’ve no interest in playing that game. In my opinion it’s far more rewarding being creative than trying to please clueless financiers.
“I don’t depend on whether or not success comes, it really doesn’t interest me, I’ll never starve. In my opinion success for “Kubricks”Â is that the cast and crew stand by it and aren’t ashamed to admit we’re its parents.”
LTW: There are plans for Kubricks to run as a trilogy as well, isn’t there?
“Kind of. Yeah, a thread. Alan McGee and Josh are keen to keep the same cast and crew and build on the experience. We’re all really lucky that Alan’s got resources and some amazing locations we can use. He’s also really getting back into working again after his sabbatical in Wales and offers are rolling in so you never know what leads to what.
“We’re planning on a trilogy of films with the second part being shot entirely in a 17th Century Chapel (complete with graveyard) that Alan and his wife have bought. They are thinking of turning it into a community-based arts centre which is really cool.
“The area where Alan lives is scenically beautiful and needs something more than the book festival to attract artists.
We’re kind of synchromystically getting contacted by some really interesting characters, some famous, some not, mostly though “infamous”, and it feels like we are slowly building up a great pool of creativity.
“The aim is to enjoy being creative. The moment ego enters the arena is the moment we stop it. There’s no grand ambitious design.”
LTW: And as well as Kubricks, have you anything else planned for the near future you’d like to work on?
“There’s a lot of ideas swirling around at the moment, obviously the planning for the second and third parts of the film trilogy are percolating and me, Irvine Welsh and Alan have been asked to write and produce a musical.
“Irvine developed one years back with Vic Goddard from Subway Sect, but this one is a big budget job. I can’t say too much about it now, but I’m excited purely because I’ve never written one before.
“It’s going to be a challenge for us but we’ve got some real theatre pros behind us. There’s a lot of excitement whirling around it. We’ll have to wait and see what happens.”
Interview by Carl Stanley. You can read more from Carl on LTW here.ÃÂ