Kim Mordaunt‘s The Rocket has proven itself to be quite an audience pleaser at festivals and on release across the US. It’s also currently holding a 100% score on Rotten Tomatoes which… well, it means something good, though I’m not entirely sure how Tomatometer really works. Tomorrow, Friday March 14th, finally sees the film’s release in UK cinemas and so Craig Skinner spoke to the writer-director for us.
But first, the trailer. This will set the film up better than I can.
Looking good. Now, here’s what Craig and Kim had to say when they chatted a few weeks ago.
Craig Skinner: How did you first get into filmmaking?
Kim Mordaunt: I guess my first professional job was when I came back to the UK with my producer Sylvia Wilczynski and Sylvia’s got English family as well. I was studying at LAMDA, the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art. I actually started as an actor. Then after LAMDA I got a job as a researcher on Channel 4 and BBC documentaries. That was at the end of having done labouring and cleaning and all those other jobs you do as a student. Serving up spuds in Convent Garden and so on. But we finally we got these jobs at Channel 4 and the BBC. I guess those were the first professional jobs in the industry. And then we came home to Australia, where most of our immediate family are now.
Was the aspiration always to go behind the camera, rather than in front?
No, I think it’s always been there. Even when I was an actor I was always writing things and making shorts. I kept thinking, oh I feel much more comfortable on this other side. I’m too much of a nervous human being really to be an actor. I think it’s always been there. The good thing about acting of course is that when you’re making fiction you feel very comfortable with actors and you kind of understand what they’re trying to do. And it is terrifying, what they’re trying to do, ultimately. And you read a lot. I think that’s the other good thing. As an actor you’re reading plays and screenplays and more plays. You read Shakespeare. It’s a good way to learn narrative and character.
In the The Rocket the performances are crucial because a lot of it hangs on personal relationships, so I assume that was very helpful in particular with this film?
Absolutely, absolutely. Especially with acting, a lot of your training is in theatre and theatre is very much an ensemble. It’s often an ensemble situation. Of course there’s monologues but a lot of it is ensemble. When you’re trying to interact and form relationships, on a stage. So definitely, it helps in terms of looking at family dynamics and relationship dynamics. What people need and want. Despite what they actually say. Yes, it was a great foundation.
Was there a research period before you went into pre-production or was it something that you had essentially researched already, as it was something you were interested in?
It’s a good question. I don’t think we’d be able to make this film in the Laos language, with Laos actors, if we hadn’t made the documentary Bomb Harvest. Our relationship with Laos goes back a decade. We were living and working in the region and then we made the documentary Bomb Harvest. And in making a feature length documentary we had to do at least two years of research – getting permissions, meeting the government, meeting the press department, meeting village chiefs, the police, community leaders, everyone. So there was a lot of research that went into the making of the documentary that we obviously drew on to make fiction. So when people say, how long did it take to make The Rocket? Well, from beginning to end about three years but the reality was we had another seven years of being inside that country and thinking about characters. And making relationships with the Laos community here (in Australia) and in Laos.
Thanks to both Craig and particularly Kim for taking the time to have this chat for our benefit.
The Rocket opens in UK cinemas tomorrow and will roll around the country over the next month or so. keep your eyes on your local listings.