In a few weeks’ time the gay-themed British spy film Jayson Bend: Queen and Country has the honour of being the opening movie at the Iris Prize Festival in Cardiff, Wales. We sat down with the film’s creator, Matt Carter, for a quick chat about his cinematic love letter to everyone’s favourite super-spy.
Where did the idea for Jayson Bend come from?
It just started off as a bit of fun, really. I was in the pub with a few friends who’re filmmakers and we were chatting about what it would be like if James Bond were gay. We came up with the title sequence and the innuendo names, and thought it would be fun to just make a very short project; a 10-minute film. Andrew wrote the short script, and we started thinking about making it. The more we looked at it, we realised that if we really wanted to make a proper spoof, and really make it like James Bond but gay and with a bit more comedy, we’d need to make it longer. So the script crept up in length and ended up being the 48-minute film that it is now.
It looks like it was a lot of fun to make…
It was, but it was also a lot of hard work. On set was brilliant – everyone involved had a really good time. We had some really long shoot days, everyone was run off their feet but still having fun.
Post-production was a lot harder and a lot less fun. It just went on forever and I personally took on so many of the post-production elements like editing, music, and visual effects. There were around 260 Visual Effects shots, and a lot of them were replacements of things in the background, green screen, things like that. I was doing all of this while having a full-time job and it started to add up. About a year, if not more, of my life was spent working on post-production. It’s such a relief really to see that it wasn’t all in vain!
There are some fantastic innuendos in there…
We worried some of the innuendos might get lost, because there are so many – we aimed for at least one in almost every scene. One of the first things we did was have a massive brainstorm about all of the innuendo names possible. We came up with about 100 and then started to work out which were the best ones and how could we weave them into the story.
Were you looking for a physical resemblance between Jayson and any of the Bond men?
Casting was actually quite interesting. We went through quite a long process to find the right guy to be Bend – We were looking for someone who could really carry it off. We didn’t go for anyone who looked like any of the existing Bond men, we needed someone with a certain presence onscreen who could do suave without being over the top.
One thing I said very early on was that I didn’t want it to be an Austin Powers ridiculously-over-the-top parody, I wanted everyone to be deadpan, to carry off these silly lines and look like the characters believed what they were saying without the nod to the audience. I wanted it to very much be the world they lived in, and have them accept that as it is. Finding Bend was very much a process of looking for someone who could make it believable.
You handled a lot of the production roles on the film yourself. Was that on purpose, or just the consequence of having a tight budget?
It was intentional, but the budget was also a consideration. All the roles I filled were based on skills that I have, and that I’ve wanted to use in a project at one point or another. And also it meant we could keep things very cheap. Visual Effects is characteristically something that’s very expensive for most film-makers, but as it’s my profession we could do some pretty high-budget stuff for next to nothing. I’ve worked on big films doing visual effects, so it’s the same process whether I’m in the office doing it or if I’m at home. The budget doesn’t make too much of a difference in that instance. I didn’t know at the beginning how long it would take. In my mind I’d whittled it down thinking ‘it won’t take that long’ but it does all add up and I don’t think I really knew what I was taking on, but it’s all worth it, I think!
In terms of creative scope, this must have been quite a step up for you to take on so many roles…
Usually I’m given a brief as to what someone else wants, and I work to their vision of how it should all play out. It was brilliant to be on set and direct and take control of the process. I’ve done little bits of film-making here and there, but nothing even close to this, so to go from that to pretty much making a feature film, it definitely was a big step up.
Will there be any more Jayson Bend chronicles?
Well, I’d say never say never (fnar), but I basically funded this film, and it took so much of my time… I think that unless we get some funding to make a sequel, the answer would have to be no. However if someone comes up to me saying ‘I love this film, here’s some money, go and make a sequel’ then I’d be very up for considering doing that, yes.
Do you have a favourite Bond?
Controversial I suppose, but I really like the modern Daniel Craig era. I love the balance of classic nostalgia and modern sensibility that makes it so classy and balances the silly with what I think Bond needs to be. I think Daniel Craig is great at that. I do love the older ones as well, I have a special place for Goldeneye, as it was the first one I ever saw.
What’s your next project?
I’ve got a few scripts that I’m working on at the moment – a few features, a few shorts, but I’m really busy with work at the moment, so it’s quite difficult to balance my projects, but I’ve got some things in the works. Hopefully I’ll start shooting on my next movie next year. Ideally I’d love some funding to be able to go into making films full time. That would be brilliant. I’d love to do that.
Matt Carter will be introducing Jayson Bend: Queen and Country at its International premiere as the opening film of the Iris Prize Festival in Cardiff on October 8th, followed by a Q&A session. Tickets are available here.
Interviewer: Scott Elliott