SxSW 2021 Interview – PAUL DOOD’S DEADLY LUNCH BREAK director Nick Gillespie

In my own words – the film is about a guy called Paul who tries to enter a talent contest, he messes up his audition, and then attempts to go on a revenge killing spree; not wanting to add spoilers but I can tell you that goes very badly for him too. 

Having its World Premiere in the Narrative Spotlight section, we speak with filmmaker Nick Gillespie on PAUL DOOD’S DEADLY LUNCH BREAK which will screen at SxSW Online! 

Welcome to SxSW! Is this your first SxSW experience?

This is my first SXSW and I’m thrilled. I did work on a film called Kill List though and friends from the cast and crew who attended the festival told me some fantastic stories about their time there. 

So let’s hear more about you and how you got started in the business and what you have worked on in the past!

I started making films with an old VHS camera when I was around 12 years old and watching films is something I have always had an interest in. When I saw RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK as a kid I thought I wanted to be an archaeologist, that didn’t really work out, and as I got older I figured out it was the films themselves I loved as much as the characters in them. I now work professionally as a filmmaker and director of photography. PAUL DOOD’S DEADLY LUNCH BREAK is my second feature as a director and some other stuff I’ve worked on recently as DoP and am very proud of are Ben Wheatley’s In The Earth and Delia Derbyshire The Myths and Legendary Tapes by Caroline Catz, which i’m thrilled to say is also playing at SxSW this year. In the past I have shot second unit for most of Ben Wheatley’s films, which is something I’ve loved being a part of. Other projects I’ve enjoyed being involved include The Virtues and Liam Gallagher’s Come Back to Me by Shane Meadows.

How did PAUL DOOD all come together?

The film was ten years in the making since screenwriter Matthew White sent me the first draft in 2010. Matt and I had developed a whole bunch of ideas, we had also made some shorts together too, and I have always been a big fan of his writing. It was definitely one of those passion projects we always came back to until we finally found a way to get it funded and bring Paul Dood to life, mostly thanks to the wonderfully talented Tom Meeten. The shoot took place over three weeks during Autumn of 2019 which came with the usual challenges, mostly weather based, of shooting any low budget film; all challenges were overcome due to the testament of a very hard working and friendly cast and crew. The main challenge for me personally was post production, with our edit being shut down when the first UK lockdown came in, and like many people we were faced with the prospect of learning to work remotely in order to stay safe. Communication was harder not being in the same room of course but there’s a way that works. We are not exactly saving lives making films but it was important to complete and meet various deadlines so we cracked on working remotely until completion in December 2020.

What keeps you going while making a project? What drives you?

I would say determination and patience keeps me going during any project, also coffee, and I mostly vibe off the good people I am working with. Filmmaking is a team effort and there’s definitely something to be said for all being in it together, especially when it’s raining heavily and you are outside all day long. 

What was your biggest challenge and what was the moment that was the most rewarding to you?

I suppose the biggest challenge was filming in a shopping mall that was open to the public but the most rewarding thing was working with such a fantastic cast and crew. It was really quite something seeing Tom Meeten bring Paul Dood to life after so many years of imagining and talking about the character. 

I am about to get technical, but I would love to know about the visual design of the movie and how it was made.

We shot the film with two Arri Alexa Mini’s on Zeiss Superspeed lenses. We also shot with GoPro’s and iPhones. I wanted the film to feel a bit raw in a sense, not too polished, with elements of it lending the look to a world of social media. I approached the characters in a way where if they were real people, I imagined what they would want the world to see on Instagram for example, so everything is a bit heightened in that respect. I had worked with both DoP Billy Jackson and production designer Laura Little in the past so I knew they would both bring a wealth of fun and creativity to the film alongside Red Miller’s makeup and Jasmine Ada Knox’s costume designs. 

What are you looking forward to the most about showing your movie at SxSW Online?

I am always really nervous about showing new films off but I suppose the thing I am most looking forward to is getting Paul Dood’s story out there, after all these years trying to get it made. I am really hoping people will find something fun with it, after such a difficult time with the pandemic and what not, it really is great that we still have a way of showing films and connecting with people who share our love for it.

Clearly this is such a different time with virtual festivals and online screenings. How do you feel about releasing movies in this current format and how do you feel audiences will see most films in the future?

I truly hope we will find a way to go back to the cinema. It is fantastic that the industry can continue and pandemic or no pandemic the way films are shown is ever changing of course, but I must say there is nothing quite like being sat in a big room with a big screen, big sound system, and a whole bunch of people who enjoy being there as much as you do. 

We have a lot of readers on our site looking to make movies or work in the business. What is the ONE THING you would say to someone who is wanting to get into filmmaking, especially now as things are evolving at such a fast rate?

I suppose the main thing is to remain true to yourself. You have to adapt to all kinds of situations in filmmaking but it is important to always remember the reasons you are doing it and why you started. 

And final question: what is the greatest movie you have ever seen at a film festival?

This is a great question but always a tough one to answer! It’s like trying to think of my favourite song or something, there are just so many and I try to keep it open as I hope there will be many more to come. I did watch SAVING PRIVATE RYAN again recently and I also love HELLRAISER along with anything by Martin Scorsese. 

This film and many others like it will be showing at the virtual South By Southwest taking place March 16-20th. For more information and to register for the festival, point your browser to!

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