Eran Creevy talks with the breathless excitement of someone who is not accustomed to doing interviews but has plenty to say. He has just released his debut film, 'Shifty', and he has every reason to be excited and have plenty to say.
Shot over 18 days for £100,000, 'Shifty' is a low-key yet fast-moving film - half crime drama, half buddy movie - that marks Creevy out as a writer and director with a very bright future. It follows 24 hours in the lives of Shifty (Riz Ahmed), an Essex drug dealer, and Chris (Daniel Mays), the best friend who comes back from Manchester to visit him.
In Dublin to promote the film, Creevy talked about bringing the story to the screen, future plans and how to make a little money go a long, long way.
Harry Guerin: You worked on the script for 'Shifty' over a number of years. Were there times when you thought that the film would never get made?
Eran Creevy: Not really, I'm a fairly optimistic person at heart. I think you have to strive forward in the hope that it's going to get made, because if you don't I don't think you can have the perseverance to stick with something that's going to take that long. I think I always had the belief and the hope that it was going to get made, otherwise I probably wouldn't have been able to see it through all the rewrites and the drafts.
HG: So how much did the script change over time?
EC: Very, very, very heavily. When I first conceived the film it was much more arthouse and independent - that's a weird thing to say for a hundred grand film that is arthouse and independent. What I mean by that is that it was a much smaller scale film - the themes and stuff. When we finished the final script it felt a lot more epic and that there was much more at stake.
HG: You've managed to combine two great storylines in 'Shifty': the day in the life and the race against time.
EC: We were always very aware that if you tell an audience that it's a day in the life [they know] it's going to be full-on. If I had said: "This is 10 years in the life of..." It's like: "Here we go..."
If you say: "It's a day in the life of" there's an immediate appeal there. It was such a good way to sum it up when you're trying to pitch it to people. "What's your film about?" "It's about a day in the life of a Muslim crack cocaine dealer." "Right. Got It." But obviously it's much more than that: fundamentally it's a film about friendship and about male bonding - that love between the two friends and redemption.
HG: Riz Ahmed and Daniel Mays are excellent in the film, and you also had a fantastic supporting cast - Nitin Ganatra from 'EastEnders', Jason Flemyng from 'Snatch' and Francesca Annis. Was it hard to convince established actors to do a film like this?
EC: A bonus point of shooting a really low budget film in 18 days is that if you say: "Look we're going to shoot this film. It's only going to cost a hundred grand and I'm going to take 10 weeks to shoot it", no-one's going to give you the time. They're going to say: "Your script's great, but there's no way your going to have 10 weeks of my life, because I've got a family. I've got rent to pay."
But people like cinematographers and production designers will give you 18 days, and actors will give you 18 days. As long as they're into the project, you'll be surprised that lots of people are willing to give their time, because they'd rather be on the set doing something that sitting at home doing nothing.
HG: I'm stunned that 'Shifty' only cost £100,000
EC: Well, I know, because I went out two weeks later after I finished it and shot a commercial for double the budget in two days! Ridiculous!
HG: But the film looks great for so little money.
EC: We aimed high all the time. We shot on film; we ran it like a professional film set. You should never aim low. We always tried to make people feel like this was a proper movie. Once you do that I think everyone raises their game as well.
The response to the film is absolutely unfathomable - it's amazing for a hundred grand film. I had some people asking me to have photos taken with them yesterday and I'm like: "What? What do you want to have your photograph taken with me for?" It's an amazing feeling but I'm just buckling down and finishing the next script off now.
HG: So what is the next script?
EC: I've written a film called 'Welcome to the Punch'. It's much more epic in scale and it's more along the lines of 'Heat' or 'Infernal Affairs'. We have a problem in Britain with making films that feel very parochial and don't appeal to a wider audience. I'm trying to do away with that. I'm trying to make a big crime epic that feels universal. Hopefully watch this space - you might see me getting one star reviews saying: "Who is this Michael Mann wannabe?!"
HG: What advice would you give someone who has an idea for a story or a script?
EC: The best advice I was ever given was by my stepdad. I said to him: "I've got this idea. I'm going to write this script." And he said: "Just write the script and stop talking about it, because there are so many people who talk about it but they never do it."
I also heard a great bit of advice from Mel Brooks when he was chatting to Gene Wilder about writing 'Young Frankenstein'. He said to him: 'Stop paining over every paragraph. Just write it. At first you're going to have this massive lump of rock and you can take a chisel and chisel away at it until you've got a statue. But you need the lump of rock to make the statue.'