Director and actor Noel Clarke talks to Jonathan Melville about his new action film The Anomaly, which received its world premiere at the Edinburgh International Film Festival.
In The Anomaly, Noel Clarke (Star Trek Into Darkness, Adulthood) plays a traumatised ex-soldier called Ryan, who wakes up in the back of a van with a young kid, and has nine minutes and 47 seconds to find out what’s going on.
He “actually realises he has more to do with the kid’s disappearance than he thought,” Clarke says. “The film is based around those segments where he wakes up.”
Explaining the origin of The Anomaly, Clarke says he originally intended to make a different film by screenwriter Simon Lewis.
“Simon Lewis, who’s a great writer, wrote a film called Tiger House, which a buddy of mine, Tom Daley, directed,” Clarke says. “Originally I was after Tiger House to produce it, for Tom to direct. And then a bigger company, one with money, came and snatched it at the last minute and I was quite annoyed by that. Then Simon said, ‘let’s meet up and I can pitch you some of my other projects’. We met up and he was telling me about all these projects and I was like, ‘that’s alright, that’s alright, that’s alright’. Then he gave me the first bit of The Anomaly, and I was like, ‘I want that one’.”
Despite a relatively small budget, The Anomaly has the look and feel of a Hollywood blockbuster. Clarke says this was achieved both by the director of photography, and his own development as a director.
“The way we got that big budget look is firstly having a great DOP [director of photography], David Katznelson, and working with him extensively,” he says. “Also, I’ve learnt. If you force a guy to eat with spoons, eventually he becomes good at it. D’you know what I mean? I’ve been like, ‘there’s money, make your little hood rat film’, but I’ve learnt to make films on a low budget. So when you get a slightly bigger budget, I know where to put the money. And knowing where to put the money means you can make this film look a lot bigger than it is.”
Conversely, Clarke believes he has been criticised for trying to do too much. “I want all young film-makers to have ambition. I’m over-ambitious, apparently,” he laughs.
“It’s ridiculous, but I’m happy to take that, on my shoulders, on my back, on my head,” he continues. “Because if some kid in his bedroom on a council estate, or some kid in a rich home loves film, any kid out there, if they feel they could never be represented in an action film, that they could never be an action star, and they see this… They go, ‘every time I’ve seen an action film it’s been Bourne, or it’s been this blonde guy, there’s no Asians, there’s no Native Americans, there’s no East Asians, there’s no Indians…’ And they see this, and they go, ‘I can do that’, then I’m cool.”
The Anomaly screens as part of EIFF tonight (20 June) at Cineworld, 6.10pm (more info). It goes on general release in the UK on July 4.