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/ Interview with Noli

Director's Notes

I wrote MARRIED/UNMARRIED originally as a stage play but decided to make it as a very low-budget film. A film producer had read it and was attracted to its desensitisation of sex and fidelity –and the fact that I wanted to make it immediately for very little money. Everything moved very quickly from that initial meet, and incredibly it was confirmed that within three months I’d be shooting the film for approximately £200,000. I was urged to shoot on DV as this would enable me the luxury of endless coverage and speed of filming many set-ups, but I opted to shoot on Super16.

When I started to write the screenplay I found myself adapting the play into a safe film-formula storytelling style, inter-cutting between characters and scenes, opening the scenes out into locations that seem to only happen in film, and basically betraying the roots of my original story. The structure was simple; two couples four characters, each character has a duologue with each of the other characters in a self-contained scene. Additionally there would be one scene of the four of them together. No inter-cutting, no film-formula. I re-wrote the screenplay under this original guideline.

This will inevitably leave me open to criticism by the usual blanket ignorance that a dialogue-based film is too ‘stagey’, or that it indeed feels like the stage play – though in this case that would be bizarre because it has never actually been staged as both productions (London & Paris) were withdrawn upon my decision to make the film. Some of the most riveting dramatic cinema has remained faithful to its stage play roots – Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf, Glengarry Glen Ross, A Streetcar Named Desire, 12 Angry Men – and the fundamental reason why they are so powerful is because of dialogue and performance. In essence, they are anti-cinema because the camera is of minor significance. The narrative is not driven by visuals but by characters. Character is plot. And the major flaw of most mainstream movies is that they forget about character and the power of the spoken word with more time spent on visual storyboards than the actual narrative. I’m very interested to see Von Trier’s ‘Dogville’ which sounds like it’s taken the blank-canvas stage formula and filmed it for cinema.

I am completely indebted to my actors and my crew that we managed to make a film that will be seen in cinemas. There were numerous occasions when it appeared inevitable that the film would not be completed. No mistake could be rectified with money, no problem solved at a later date. We had 20 days to shoot the film and if by the 21st day the film was not all in the can, the film would’ve remained unfinished.

I believe Britain should be able to make the serious, intelligent, thought-provoking cinema that we seem to crave from the rest of Europe. We shouldn’t be an industry that is so reliant on Rom-Coms and costume dramas and mockney gangsters. Our cinemas shouldn’t be infiltrated with the bland mainstream of big-budget America. We have to have an original voice, demand to heard, encouraged and inspired to make films that penetrate us like those made by our European contemporaries like Haneke, Von Trier, Almodovar, Vinterberg,

Married/Unmarried is a small film. Cheap, flawed and rough. It received no help from the studios or the film bodies whose purpose of existence is to help small independent films such as this. I hope it has a voice that stays with all who see it.

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