Two Down at Crouch End’s ArtHouse cinema
Rhiannon McGregor catches up with award-winning Crouch End film maker Mathew Butler and finds out how he filmed Two Down in 12 days, and why he can always count on support from Stephen Fry, Sir David Jacobi and Sir Ian McKellen
Matthew Butler, co-founder of Fizz and Ginger Productions, may develop a ginger-tinged beard when the sun comes out, but he insists that wasn’t the inspiration behind the film production company’s intriguing name.
“Everyone thinks that it’s the two of us,” chuckles Butler, referring to himself and partner Tori Hart, “but it’s actually a P.G Wodehouse quote. Bertie Wooster says of a girl, ‘She’s full to the brim with fizz and ginger’, and it’s always stuck with me.”
The Crouch End duo’s latest feature film Two Down is causing quite a stir – or perhaps that should be bang, given the nature of the film – among critics. Co-written by Butler and Hart, it recounts the story of John Thomas, an “aspergic hitman”, whom Hart implies is loosely based around a thespian acquaintance. “It was about the quirks really that came from that and looking at someone who finds it difficult in life to communicate and where that places them in a job or in a community.”
Having already racked up three awards at the Manchester, Amsterdam and Los Angeles film festivals, and with a recent acceptance to the Chichester International Film Festival, the film shows no signs of slowing down as it continues its year-long festival circuit. Showing at Crouch End’s ArtHouse cinema on August 31, it is a remarkable achievement – particularly given its low budget and the fact that it was filmed in its entirety in just 12 days.
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“With a film this size, you need those little laurels from all the festivals, kind of like a stamp of validity so people think, ‘Oh, if it’s been to festivals it must be good’,” explains Butler.
It may be a relatively restrained affair in terms of budget, but it certainly has some big name supporters. Stephen Fry and Sir Derek Jacobi are both executive producers, whilst the cast includes Conleth Hill – perhaps best known for his portrayal of Varys in Game of Thrones – and Felicity Montagu of Alan Partridge fame.
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“All of our executive producers were great because you’d send them scripts and ideas and they’d say, ‘Brilliant, carry on’,” says Butler. However, with such illustrious backers, it was sometimes difficult to retain their full attention. “We’d sent Derek Jacobi the script and we hadn’t heard from him for months. We thought he hated it, so we finally sent him an email saying, ‘Do you like it...?’ He replied with ‘Oh it’s great, of course, it’s brilliant!’”
Fizz and Ginger also count Sir Ian McKellen as a close acquaintance, with the national treasure having featured as the narrator in their previously released film, Miss in Her Teens, an adaptation of an 18th century play. Although Two Down does not feature the man himself, McKellen’s pub The Grapes in Limehouse stars as the only location outside of the Crouch End/Turnpike Lane precinct.
Both Hart and Butler ultimately attribute the successful making of Two Down to their fellow Crouch Enders. “There is definitely a community and a creative buzz around the area. Even in the shops there’s a real feeling of community. You just have to look at Hornsey Arts Centre and what they’re trying to do there, and in the town hall, there is definitely a collective feeling.”
Two Down will show at Crouch End’s ArtHouse cinema on August 31. Visit arthousecrouchend.co.uk