At Hit The Floor we love indie film. We are big supporters of people who get out and do what they love, and hopefully do better than Hollywood’s latest sequel of a prequel. That’s why be are big fans of the Welsh teenage farce, ‘The Better Man‘
Nominated for (deep breath) Best Feature, Best Cinematography, Best Director, and the Welsh Dragon Award at this years Newport International Film Festival, this seemingly incredible debut from directing duo Matt Tindall and Josh Bennett will surely raise an eyebrow or two.
Made by a four man crew on a shoestring budget funded mainly by an anonymous Franc, ‘The Better Man’ is a story of self realisation in the midst of a race between two friends to become the best best man, or ‘The Better Man’. The film stars fresh faced newbies David Sykes and Cameron Stuart as the man-child pair supported by upcoming actresses Natalie Martins (‘Miracle Grow’, Best Actress LIFF 2013) and Sabrina Dickens (‘How I Live Now’)
Hit The Floor’s Adam White had a few words with director Matt Tindall and writer Tom McInnes to better understand ‘The Better Man’.
Hit The Floor: Firstly, the question all debut indie directors have to answer. Who the hell are you?
Matt Tindall: I’m Matt. I co-wrote and co-directed The Better Man last summer.
Tom McInnes: I’m Tom, and I co-wrote The Better Man with Matt. Actually, he co-wrote it with me. I would have co-directed it with him, but at the time it seemed a little too much like hard work.
MT: We’ve been friends since we were 14. And instead of trying to kiss girls, we spent a lot of that time running around with cameras, making silly short films about zombies and gangsters and wizards. This is our first feature length movie, if it can be called that. It’s only 71 minutes long. Though I think Toy Story is about that length, and that’s a modern classic.
TM: Toy Story doesn’t have anywhere near as many references to fingering in it. I’m not sure whether that counts in our favour or not. To be honest, I’m not 100% sure we should be pitching ourselves in competition with Toy Story.
HTF: So it’s not about toys then? What is it about?
TM: It’s about boys. Boys trying to be men, or trying to avoid being men.
MT: It’s the story of two mates – Aaron and Josh – who travel from England to Wales to attend their childhood friend’s engagement party. Although he’s totally against the idea of his friend getting married at 21, Aaron is desperate to win the best man job. He’s always been the leader of the gang, so it’s a big sticking point for him. If an occasion this big can go down without him at the centre, what’s he for?
HTF: As someone living the other side of the border, why make a film in Wales?
MT: Well, since so much of the plot involves Aaron being out of his comfort zone, we really wanted to physicalise that by taking him to this foreign land where they all talk funny.
TM: And everyone we know with film equipment lives in Wales for some fucked up reason.
MT: Plus, we had a lot of great Doctor Who jokes we really wanted to use. Seriously, they’re dead good.
HTF: You say that you “grew up making movies together and have grown up to make movies together”. Though I get the sense that you haven’t grown up at all, which is part of the charm of the film. Was your childishness your inspiration?
TM: Yeah, it basically plays on me and Matt’s anxieties as ageing teenage lotharios. Like, when you put all of your sense of self-worth in being the life and soul of the party when you’re seventeen, what happens when you’re not seventeen any more? When the people who used to look up to you begin to grow out of you.
MT: It was written just after we’d graduated uni. In that six month period before we’d really worked out what we wanted to be doing with our lives. So there’s a lot of that sort of stuff in there. Of course, what Aaron is really rallying against, what really frightens him, is his friend’s willingness to leap through life and make big, scary, permanent ‘grown-up’ decisions when all he wants to do is be a teenager again.
HTF: How does one go about making a Best Feature nominated film?
TM: Write what you know and – more importantly – what you know you can make.
MT: Except did we know we could make it? Sure, we took care to keep the story small. No alien invasions or robot armies, those were the ground rules. But I swear when we started we never even thought we’d finish the script. Then we never thought we’d be able to raise the money, or cast it, or actually get it shot and cut.
TM: Yeah, nothing ever felt like it was actually really going to happen until it was already happening. I guess that’s a consequence of ten years spent talking about stuff that never happens. Like, “Yeah, we’ll make a film and it’ll play at festival and we’ll be famous millionaires blah blah.”
MT: The difference this time was we were extremely lucky to have some amazingly talented actors and technicians to help us out. Maybe that’s the answer? Surround yourself with people way more talented than yourself and the chances are you’ll actually get something done. And it might even turn out halfway decent.
TM: How very diplomatic of you.
MT: Also, you need a good ear for dick jokes.
HTF: Who was this French woman that loves you so much?
MT: We have no idea! Basically, we crowdfunded the movie. So every day we were watching the total creep up in little incremental jumps. £10 here, £20 there, £50 if someone was especially generous. And then one day we took a big £200 leap. And it was from a name we didn’t recognise. Josefa something, wasn’t it?
TM: Something like that. We invited her to the premiere but she never showed. I dream about her sometimes. In my dreams, she’s this dark, six-foot beauty. I go to kiss her but when she opens her mouth, a fountain of twenty pound notes come fluttering out.
MT: She has her name in the credits. She’s an associate producer. But we were never able to get in touch. We found her Twitter account but her picture was Scarlett Johansson in The Avengers. And she’d tweeted something we roughly translated to mean, ‘I have no money so I give it all to The Better Man’. Josefa, if you’re out there, we’d love to hear from you.
Truly a tale of mishap, misjudgment, and miss francophiles, ‘The Better Man’ screens at 8pm this Friday for the Newport International Film Festival. Hit The Floor will be there and so can you, ticket are available here.