It seems that the one consistent, and person most alluded to when the plaudits were flying in, was debut filmmaker, and screenwriter Anthony Wilcox. Star Paul Schneider – who plays the comedic role of Aaron, led the appreciation.
“Me and Anthony have been friends for a while, and one of the things I really like about him as a director is his wealth of knowledge in regards to production. I went to film school and studied editing and thought I was going to cut documentaries when I grew up, and then I was a production runner on a few television shows so I have a fair amount of knowledge, but Anthony does as well and now that I’m acting you feel comfortable in the amount he knows about the whole thing works, and it’s nice to be able to share that with a friend.
“A lot of people are here because they’ve worked with Anthony before and they like him personally, and these are some extremely qualified technicians and they’re not here for the money, they’re here because they love Anthony and they want to see his film do well.”
Schneider also admitted that such affability made for a more comfortable environment, which benefited the finished product. “A group of really nice people trying to accomplish a goal that has a sense of artistic integrity, and it’s just fun. But also it’s fucking filmmaking – people don’t need to take it so seriously. It’s not the end of the world, we’re not cardiologists, nobody is dying if we don’t do a good job. The pressure should be off in situations like this because you get the best performances and best creative working environments when the pressure is off and people are just having fun.
“I don’t need to fucking act, it’s not what I thought I was going to do, I didn’t study it… It’s not the career of my heart. I just like being involved with films. So the fact I hadn’t given any thought of being an actor, or that it wasn’t something I dreamed about when I was a kid, that gives me a certain amount of remove from it, I don’t treat it as being so precious necessarily. Obviously I want to work and be in good films and take every job very seriously, I’m not casual about it, but in terms of getting a job or losing a job or not wanting to be involved in a job, I can take it or leave it. It’s sometimes months of your life, and I’m not gonna spend it with assholes.”
Such a sentiment was echoed by Jodie Whittaker, who plays Carter’s potential love interest, Jenny. “We all really get on – it’s really nice, we have a great chemistry. Anthony is wonderful to work with so it’s just a fun and playful environment, which is needs to be when doing this kind of story. There’s nothing worse than a serious comedy set.
“It’s weird because you get to know each other so much, but it’s such a short time, but it’s always sad when it’s over. Particularly with this, because it’s brilliant coming in to work, and it’s a really good laugh. I love the people that you meet, and the bonds that you make. Because you’re all of a similar mindset and you quickly become a little family, but there’s no strings attached so it’s not bad etiquette to not keep in touch, but if you see each other it’s lovely, like a nomadic life that’s got the benefits of having lots of different families everywhere.”
Charlie Cox who plays the eponymous lead, Carter – a downtrodden character who is homeless, single and unemployed, and so sets off to find his ex-partner to win her back – also had nothing but kind words to say of his experience, while telling us what it was about this role that appealed so greatly to the Boardwalk Empire star.
“It’s been such a lovely environment to work in, and really wonderful people. Anthony has assembled a cast and crew that really care and are passionate about their work, and consequently the on-set environment has been the best you could have hoped for,” he said. “I like Carter, I like him for his simplicity and I identified with his sense of confusion and being a bit lost.”
Hello Carter first began life as a short movie, before making its way to the big screen. Though Dominic Cooper had taken on the title role in the short, Cox admits he was more than happy to step in for the role. “I didn’t watch the short, I didn’t feel it would be helpful and it would be better if I just read it and came up with my own ideas. I didn’t speak to Dominic though, to be honest, I don’t know him very well! My presumption is that he wasn’t available, and much to my fortune as I then got to do it. It happens quite a lot, I was cast in a movie once that I then couldn’t do and I got a call from my friend Ben Barnes who said “I think I’m gonna do your job”.”
For Whittaker, however, she had been in the short (albeit as another character) but admits the film could not be further away from what they had originally shot. “It’s weird because it’s totally different to the short. But it’s great because if someone said ‘I’ve turned my short film into a feature’ you’d think, how have you stretched that out? But Anthony has taken these characters and put them in a different world,” she said.
The change of character was also welcomed by the talented actress. “I really liked the part because she’s normal. A lot of the time when you play a love interest it can be quite samey, she has to be the light in someone’s life, or the life they dream of. But in this she’s just really normal.”
So, having heard nothing but high praise and kind words about Wilcox, we were undoubtedly keen on speaking to the man himself – who explained how meticulous he was about creating this atmosphere and picking exactly the right cast and crew to achieve it.
“It always struck me how poorly a crew can be put together,” he said. “Producers just find out who’s available and phone around a few agencies. But I think you have to organise and set-up that crew in the same way you do a cast, and think about people getting along and getting the best out of each other. We put together a crew of people we knew we wanted to spend 5 weeks with. One of the best things about directing is hiring actors who can bring something far greater than what you’ve just written on the page.”
One of the actors Wilcox was talking about was Schneider, who he was thrilled to have tempted into the project. “I worked with Paul before and we hung out a bit, and I’d visited him in America. We spoke about working together and then when I was getting this together, I thought of a couple of people I’d like to work with, and would be amazing for the film, and he was one of them, so I wrote the character specifically for him. Then you roll the dice and hope he’ll say yes, and luckily he did. It was a risk because if he’d said no it would have been hard to get someone else over for the salary we were offering. It had to be someone who knew and trusted us from before, and luckily Paul went for it. When people see his performance they’ll realise it could only ever have been him.”
The director also spoke highly of Cox, and explained that despite Cooper seeming the most fitting choice for the part, the former was more than capable of stepping in to this shoes. “Dominic is a friend of mine, but we were very specific about the time we wanted to make this film, plus we wanted to take a fresh approach. We met a bunch of people to play the part of Carter but as soon as registered Charlie’s interest, it was clear he had all the qualities we needed. He really draws an audience in, he’s very sympathetic. Carter is an everyman, someone men and women like and can identify with. A lot of leading man transcend that everyday feeling sometimes, and it can be disconcerting for an audience as you can’t relate to them. Jody has exactly the same thing – very smart, funny, beautiful and funny, but manages to stay incredibly likeable at the same time.”
Having heard nothing but excessive delight for the project, needless to say we found it somewhat comforting to hear that not everything was completely rosy, as Wilcox explains that logistically the picture was vexing at times, as a piece shoot on location in London, and with a narrative than spans a mere 24 hours.
“Logistically we bit off more than we could chew,” he admitted. “There’s the weather element, which is tricky. On the first day of shooting we woke up to snow. But we got lucky generally. You have those continuity issues in any story, but it’s slightly tricker when the story is set over 24 hours. We were dealing with cats, babies, stunts… Things that traditionally people wouldn’t encourage you to do on a film of this size, that’s quite time and money tight. But in whatever budget we had we always wanted to be as ambitious as we possibly could.”
“But I was keen to set the film in a London I recognised, and most people in London recognise, which isn’t as sparkly and bright as sometimes it’s portrayed in mainstream films. More aesthetically similar to Wonderland, Naked and Dirty Pretty Things. Films that are keener to get under the skin of the city a bit more. Yet within that have an accessible, commercial and comedic story.”
For actor Henry Lloyd-Hughes – best known for playing Donovan in hit TV series The Inbetweeners, and soon to be seen taking a starring role in period drama Madame Bovary, it was the portrayal of London which was a selling point. “London is one of the reasons why I liked the script, because it’s bizarre how many films are set in London that I don’t feel are about London that much. I felt like there was something about London in this story, it feels like relevant to modern day London. There’s a lot of authenticity in it, which is good, particularly as I’ve lived here my whole life so am naturally drawn to something that depicts what it’s really like.”
So, all in a all we’d consider that to be something of a happy set. As Wilcox finished, “It was amazing. I really did feel lucky every day. You write these scenes and characters in a darkened room for ages, and it’s so exciting when you walk on a set and everyone is bringing it all to life. I had the time of my life.”
A rather remarkable level of exuberance and delight from all, with the film hitting our cinemas on December 5th, it gives you the perfect opportunity to head along and see just how this radiant atmosphere has been translated on to the big screen.