ETERNAL BEAUTY director Craig Roberts | BFI London Film Festival 2019

ETERNAL BEAUTY director Craig Roberts | BFI London Film Festival 2019


– The movie’s called Eternal Beauty and it stars Sally Hawkins, Billy Piper Alice Lowe, Penelope Wilton David Thewlis and Morfydd Clark. It is about a lady that
falls into a state of despair over her schizophrenia and finds, or encounters new
sources of love and life. That’s the IMDB synopsis. I didn’t put that up
there, but I liked it. Whoever put that up there is very good. For me it’s a personal story. I grew up around somebody that was living with the superpower. I wasn’t really aware of it as a kid. As I grew, I suppose I started to realise how
incredible this person was and how powerful they were with dealing with what they had. So I thought it would be right to share her superpowers with the world. We had a consultant called
Doctor Paul Fletcher who is head of neuroscience at Cambridge and he was over the script and was very involved
from the get go, really and also worked with Sally a lot. It was very beneficial,
it was great to have him. Mainly my family, though. My family was the real research. The idea and the
character was fully formed because it’s inspired by somebody. There was no real challenges
of how I tell her story. It came. It was just about getting
people that would back it and let me tell the story
I wanted to, really. I always find it interesting when people look back at old photos and go look how good I looked or didn’t I look really great? And I suppose that’s their eternal beauty. That one still photograph
can last forever. That beauty can last. For me it was playing on that. There’s a scene at the end of the movie towards the end of the
movie where the character has her photo taken at the present age and she’s comfortable with who she is and wants to take that photo now. That for me was the reason behind it. The thing I learned the
most was time, really. A lot I learned, I think. In the edit was the
biggest thing I learned. You’ve almost gotta take
time away from the picture to fall out of love with it so that you can actually
look at it properly because you’re so attached to it and it’s your baby. No matter what that baby does even if it hits another person you’re gonna stick up for it. For me it’s about falling
out of love with it and then trying to do good by it. ‘Cause it’s interesting
when that baby is 18 it goes out and you
can’t protect it anymore. The hyenas come out to play. I knew Sally and I wrote
the script for Sally. I knew that I couldn’t
do the movie without her. There was a time when
she maybe couldn’t do it because of timings and I
wasn’t gonna make the movie. I think a lot of people
wanna work with Sally so that helped. And we got everybody I went for. Very lucky. Somebody once told me don’t put all your good
ideas in one script and I think that’s right. You start taking those out,
you take out the visual ideas and you just focus in on the characters so, it did. And also once Sally got involved we were in prep for a long time. She likes to get into
character a time before. Once Sally was involved
we changed it quite a bit. In terms of dialogue and stuff. I was interested in the idea
of people saying feeling blue. Which is, I supposed feeling down or depressed in any kind of way. In my picture the illness, if
that’s what I want to call it is a superpower, for me anyway. I wanted to take the idea of blue and power the person. At the beginning of the
movie it’s very cream and kind of eggshell, there’s
no colour in the movie. As she comes off medication and is able to control
her powers her own way the blue starts to fill and she’s feeling blue. Paul Thomas Anderson, Punch-Drunk Love. That was a big, big reference
for the syncopated music and how just how good,
how he deals with anxiety. I don’t know, a few people I think people know about it but you know in Punch-Drunk
Love he’s actually Superman. So Barry Egan is Superman but doesn’t realise he’s Superman. Hence why he has all the superpower the strength and stuff like that. I love that idea of taking anxiety and making it something else,
so that was a big reference. And also Three Colours Blue and Ingmar Bergman’s
Through A Glass Darkly. Anything Ingmar Bergman does. Because it’s film and it’s own character. It’s interesting, there’s
always a big question and a debate before you start filming that digital is cheaper and it’s not really because with film you just
need to know what you want. If you’re gonna make a movie
that’s completely improvised then I’m sure digital
is the best way to go but if you know exactly what you want and you have everything set up then you do a few takes and
if you got the right actors and I had masters of the
craft in terms of acting so I was very lucky with that. And it just looks, it just looks so good. I’ve watched the movie too many times. Last week I watched it, the print I saw the print at the
BFI run and I cried. It felt so emotional just seeing the celluloid running through. I think it’s just the idea. Whatever the idea is, I’ll
happily act in anything if the idea is really good. I won’t happily write and direct anything. It’s a really long relationship. I think I’ll do both but at the moment writing and directing is something
that I’m really into. Seeing Sally come on set for
the first day in character. It blew my mind and I just feel very lucky. You just have to make sure
the camera’s recording. ‘Cause she’s so good and
doesn’t really need many takes. In character all the time. I know Sally very well. As we were in prep she came to Wales a couple of months before
to get into character and as the filming went on we became really, really good friends and then by the end of the shoot I’d realised I became friends with a character. And then the next day I met Sally again and it was so bizarre. I think I’m influenced by certainly American cinema in some way and I like to move the camera. I think it would be a
completely different film if it was all handheld and chopped up. I think so, look I think in terms of when
I go to the pictures I like to escape. If I wanna see the real stuff I watch the news, which I don’t ’cause it’s all bad news. I certainly like seeing other worlds and otherworldly things. I love this festival so much. There’s so much talent
and a wide range of it that I feel very, very
proud to have my film here. I feel like it’s the right place for it. It has a certain sense of humour and if anybody’s gonna get it it’s this place.

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