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Earlier Fish Tank interviews

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Earlier Fish Tank interviews

Post by Admin on Sat Dec 12, 2009 6:03 pm

This has been posted before on MFO, but it came up on the news alerts, and we don't have it on the forum. I do believe it's on the multiply site, though.

http://themovie-fanatic.com/index.php/movie_news/fish-tank-trailer

tMF Featured Trailer: Andrea Arnold's FISH TANK

Written by Jed Medina
Saturday, 12 September 2009 13:58
Regarded as one of the most innovative British filmmakers today - Andrea Arnold got that distinction via the film, Red Road - which also happens to be her first feature film. At the recent Cannes, her second feature was received with criticial praise, Fish Tank. The Times Online was very generous about her new film and I quote:
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It's only her second feature film, but with Fish Tank, the British director Andrea Arnold demonstrates that she more than deserves her place in a Cannes competition lineup that includes work from some of the most celebrated directors currently working. And it's fitting that her picture screens alongside the latest from Ken Loach - there is an obvious debt here to his brand of compassionate naturalism.

Arnold builds on the humanistic, low key intimacy of her feature debut, Red Road, which won the Jury prize at Cannes in 2006. And again she takes us under the skin of a complex, conflicted female protagonist. But thematically, this portrait of marginalised lives and loves is closer to Arnold's Oscar-winning short film Wasp. [ read more ]

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FISH TANK is Academy Award-winning writer and director Andrea Arnold's second feature following her 2006 Cannes Jury Prize winner, Red Road. The film was selected for the Official Competition at the Cannes Film Festival and won the Jury Prize.

In FISH TANK, 15 year old Mia's life is turned on its head when her mum brings home a new boyfriend. Arnold casts the same unflinching, unprejudiced gaze and touches on the themes of her Oscar-winning short Wasp to create an original and unsettling tale for our age.

Following his acclaimed central performance in Hunger, Michael Fassbender (300, Inglourious Basterds) stars opposite talented newcomer Katie Jarvis. Rounding out the principal cast are BAFTA-nominated Kierston Wareing (Ken Loach's It's a Free World), Harry Treadaway (Control, Brothers of the Head) and 12 year old Rebecca Griffiths making her film debut. Produced by Kees Kasander (Prospero's Books, The Cook, The Thief, His Wife And Her Lover) and Nick Laws, and executive produced by Paul Trijbits (Ruby Films) and Christine Langan and David M Thompson for BBC Films, FISH TANK was shot entirely on location in the UK.

More about the Movie: Academy-award winning writer/director Andrea Arnold began the process of turning FISH TANK into a film when she was struck by a single image.

"All my films have started with an image," says Arnold "It's usually quite a strong image and it seems to come from nowhere. I don't understand the image at first or what it means, but I want to know more about it so I start exploring it, try and understand it and what it means. This is how I always start writing."

From the outset of the project Arnold was keen to cast as many non-actors as possible. 17 year old Katie Jarvis who had no previous acting experience was cast as Mia. "I always wanted someone real for Mia," says Arnold. "I wanted someone who would give me trouble for real. I wanted a girl who would not have to act, could just be herself." The casting process took some time before Katie was 'discovered' on a station platform. "Originally we went down the more traditional routes as Mia needed to have a passion for dancing," explains Arnold. "We saw girls from agencies and dance clubs. Then we started looking in Essex, in youth clubs, markets, shopping centres, anywhere teenage girls would hang out. Katie was found on Tilbury Town Station arguing with her boyfriend. When she was approached she didn't believe it was really for a film and wouldn't hand over her number. She has a lot of spirit but also a vulnerability and innocence that felt right. She came from where we were going to film and felt very real."

Katie says "There weren't a lot of people at the first audition so I wasn't nervous, but at the second it was a bit more scary as there were a lot of girls. I'd never done any dancing or anything like that and I didn't think I had a chance. They called me on my birthday and told me I'd got the part. I cried my eyes out, I was well chuffed."

Even though Katie had no dance experience, which was crucial for the role, Arnold was convinced that she was right for the role.

"She had never done any acting or dancing before," explains Arnold. "She didn't dance at all in fact, didn't even like dancing. The first time I asked her to dance she was too shy and so we left the room and left the camera on so she could dance alone. When I watched the tape back I saw that even though she was not a dancer in any way she was totally herself when she was dancing. There was no mask, no show. She was able to be herself totally even though she didn't like doing it. I thought I would take the risk. I wasn't sure if it was going to work, Katie had never done any acting but whatever happened I knew she would be herself and I wanted that the most."

Katie adds "The dancing was hard work as I had to do it over and over again. It wore me out, but it kept me fit."

"She was really brave in so many ways; there was so much for her to get used to. She was in every scene and it was tough for her sometimes," says Arnold. "I think she really grew over the course of the filming, changed in some way. She did beautifully. I think she wants to do more acting. She has an agent now."

"I learnt a lot doing the film," says Katie. "Whereas before I was doing nothing all the time, it made me learn that I could do things if I wanted to do it. It was hard, but it was fun and rewarding. Now I want to make the most of it. It shows you you don't have to go to drama school to get into it, but I think I was one of a kind, I don't think anyone else will get picked off a train station!"

Michael Fassbender was not immediately thought of for Connor. Arnold initially had a very different idea. "I originally wanted real people for everyone in Fish Tank and I had my eye on a man who works in my local park, a man who empties the bins. He was a perfect Connor. I wonder what he made of me watching him so intently every time I saw him.

But then I began to think it would be interesting to have someone with experience, mixed in with Katie's innocence as that would echo the relationship in the film and could work well."

Fassbender had just appeared in HUNGER to great critical acclaim, but Arnold hadn't seen the film. "I saw Michael for the first time in a clip from WEDDING BELLES, an Irvine Welsh film. I hadn't seen HUNGER or even knew about it at that point, though I became aware of it later. I thought he was very charismatic in WEDDING BELLES and that was an important quality for Connor. I made a decision without meeting him on the strength of that clip really because he felt right and I trust my instincts in that way. I don't like to question myself when it feels right so just went for it."

Fassbender boarded the film without having read the script as Arnold didn't allow any of the actors to read it beforehand. They were given their scenes only a few days before filming. "Not having a script is kind of worrying and most of the time you wouldn't commit to something under those circumstances, but I'd seen RED ROAD and I really respected Andrea and wanted to work with her. I find her storytelling very interesting because it's in the grey area. She deals with human beings who have flaws and have good qualities and negative qualities and are basically just trying to figure their way through life."

"It was brave of him to do this film really because I didn't show him or anyone in the film the script beforehand so he didn't know what he was letting himself in for. I wanted to shoot in order, so that the story would reveal itself to everyone as we went along," explains Arnold. "I felt this was especially important for Katie, as I wanted her to feel she knew where she was all the time. I also didn't want anyone to add anything significant to what they were doing. Not knowing the future meant that every moment had to be explored for just what it was and nothing more. A bit like life I guess. We never know what will happen to us in the next hour, the next day. I wanted each moment to have that innocence.

Michael very much took this on board and went through the filming taking every day in his stride: "We didn't rehearse, talk much about anything, we just worked on every day as it came."

"It was a very different way of working," comments Fassbender. "I usually like to digest the script and let it rot and then play with it when it comes to the day of filming so in this instance I tried to be as loose and relaxed as possible. That was the main note I gave myself. Andrea is very quick and off the cuff and works with whatever happens that day to organically feed her story and creates a very comfortable space for the actors to work in."

Fassbender enjoyed working with Katie. "Katie is a very expressive person and very easy to play with as she's not really acting. In Andrea's hand you can get a very powerful performance in that way as it's very raw, it comes from the gut, it hasn't been over-thought, it's very intuitive." Katie, in turn, found Fassbender easy to work with. "He gave me advice about certain things and was really helpful," she says. "It felt a bit weird acting some scenes with him, but because I knew what he was like off camera it made it much easier."

Kierston Wareing was cast as Mia's mother Joanne. "I loved Kierston the minute I set eyes on her and felt I had known her all my life," says Arnold. "I felt I really knew her. It's very nice to feel like that about someone and I cast her in one second. It turned out she grew up in the area we filmed in so maybe that is what I tapped into. She just felt very genuine, her accent, everything felt authentic.

"I originally was looking for someone real for Joanne too, someone who had lived like Joanne. Someone harder. Kierston does not have that but she had honesty about her, an openness and I guess a kind of innocence that was very attractive. It was different to what I had been looking for but still felt right. I love that about film making, you set out with a particular idea but it changes, evolves, and redefines itself daily. You have to embrace that. If you have the story in your heart, and hold onto it, the thing you care about can still be there even when everything changes, even when you lose the most important things, even when you despair you can often still find a way."

Kierston embraced the style of working. "I love Andrea's way of shooting, that's how I worked with Ken Loach, so it was great to have the opportunity to do it again." Katie adds, "In some ways I think it was good, not telling us the story in advance, because you try and put the story together in your head yourself and bit by bit I was slowly working it out."

"It was great working with Kierston," says Fassbender. "She's very no nonsense and when I first saw her I thought she looked like Brigitte Bardot. She's got this very interesting quality to her, she's got this sultry, sexy rawness to her and she's very free and easy to work with. I watched IT'S A FREE WORLD while we were working and saw how talented she is, she's also fun"

"Michael is so down to earth and lovely and normal, there wasn't a barrier in terms of his film experience versus anyone else's," says Kierston.

FISH TANK was filmed over six weeks in the summer 2008. The locations were all in Essex, to the East of London. Arnold explains her choice to set the story there.

"I originally wrote FISH TANK for Estuary Kent, which I know well, but decided to have a look at Essex because I knew it was similar in landscape. I drove out from east London along the A13 and loved it straight away. The madness of the A13, the steaming factories and the open spaces, the wilderness, the empty car parks where Ford used to be. I love too this part of the Thames, where it widens out to meet the sea. It's where Elizabeth spoke to the troops before they went out to fight the Spanish. It just all felt good."

Much of the filming took place in one estate, the setting for Joanne and Mia's home. The crew spent several weeks filming on this location.

"I was looking for an estate in the middle of all that that felt like an island and the Mardyke fitted that description," says Arnold. "I loved too the colours on the blocks there. Colour was important for me. I also loved the wasteland behind the estate. Really overgrown and full of wild flowers and birds and foxes and a really big sky. I wanted to film there but we couldn't get permission which was a massive disappointment.

"We had a very happy time filming on the estate. Film crews are so arrogant, taking over peoples everyday spaces like they own them. I always expect people to get annoyed with us and tell us to f&#! off but we had none of that."

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What's on your mind? Have you seen Andrea Arnold's first movie, Red Road? How about Fish Tank? Let us know what you think!\

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