Liselotte Vanophem: Hi Mark, how are you doing?
Mark Murphy: I’m not too bad, thanks! How are you?
LV: I’m fine, thanks. Congratulations on your latest film “For Love or Money”. Where did you get the inspiration from?
MM: It came from another film project that I was working on years ago during which I had a bad incident with the producer. I decided to write a script about that story and elaborate it further but instead of writing it about, as it was, a business relationship, I decided to change it to a romantic relationship. Making the story a little bit happier and I also threw in some humour. Over the years, I carried on with some other projects and a couple of years ago, I came back to this one and I thought “Well, I would like to make this”. The story went further and further away from the original one. It started to find its own little life.
LV: As you said, the movie is about a romantic relationship but a pretend relationship based on a lie. In a film like that the chemistry between the leading actors should be spot on. How did you come across two leads (Robert Kazinsky and Samantha Barks)?
MM: Well, Rob we got first. The casting agent went away, went through the script and then came back with a lot of lists for each character. We send it to Rob, he liked it and did a tape because he was over in L.A. We saw that and found him absolutely perfect. There was just something about Sam. She had never done a comedy before but I got the impression that she would be perfect for this role from just her natural cheekiness. We needed someone who was going to be able to be a little bit malicious but at the same time also endearing and someone you could fall in love with. Someone with a cheeky personality but also some redeemable. The chemistry between them was just luck. They’re both great actors. They got on very well off camera and that showed on camera.
LV: Was that chemistry already visible during the table read for this film?
MM: Before we started filming, we did three days of read-throughs and it was already apparent there. The first scene we filmed was the scene in which Sam is sitting in front of the mirror and having just lost some of her hair. At that stage of the film, Rob’s character is already starting to act his revenge. It was apparent that they had a great rhythm and banter level between them.
LV: As you said there was a lot of banter and humour in this film. Were there jokes or funny moments that weren’t scripted beforehand?
MM: There are a lot of jokes that came about during the read-through. When you’re writing the script you have kind of an idea of how it’s going to be but when you have the actors all together there, new things present themselves. During the actual read-through, there were a lot of moments during which we thought “Well, actually let’s play around with this moment”. Loads of things happened there. Once we came around to filming then we pretty much stuck to the script.
LV: Were there any unforeseen circumstances you had to overcome while making this film?
MM: Well, there was one big. During the last day of filming, we basically lost our location because Ridley Scott closed down the village in which we were filming. He wanted to shoot some pickup scenes for “All The Money In The World”. We had to find a new location pretty quickly. That was probably the biggest problem.
LV: In the film, you have the double-date scene in which the characters are looking back to their childhood and telling nice, funny or awkward stories about that. When you look back on your childhood, was there any moment that will stick with you forever?
MM: Oh, I can’t really think off one. There’s one that we described in the film happened in my childhood as well. There was a teacher who just fainted in the middle of the canteen area so that was based on the truth.
LV: Where did your passion for film come from?
MM: Oh, I don’t know. I grew up in the 80s so I had a VHS player and sat in front of it non-stop. Film was just in my blood. From an early age, I knew that that was what I wanted to do. Telling stories. Obviously, the first Batman film, the Tim Burton one, I saw that in the cinema three times. I was hooked on that film. I knew that that was exactly what I wanted to do. I’ve just been lucky that I had the chance to make five films so far and hopefully several more.
LV: Do you think that people should study film before they can make one or do they just need to go out and just start making movies?
MM: I don’t think you had to, no. Filmmaking is storytelling. Of course, I don’t think that anyone can just walk on a film set and start making films. I think the most important thing is having experience. That’s vitally important. I think one of the most things as well is watching films. That’s the best school. Look at Jack Nicholson and Johnny Depp, they never went to acting school but they’re great. From the director’s point of view, I think it’s important to understand each and every person’s role on a film set so that you can communicate well with them. That’s certainly one of the key things directors should be doing. Getting all the departments working in sync with each other. I think in that way film school could be very important. It allows people that opportunity to try a little bit of everything.
LV: Speaking of departments. How do you choose your departments? Like DoP, casting, costumes, etc.
MM: There are some people that I’ve worked with on every project. Sometimes it’s luck. Sometimes it’s a recommendation. You hear of people, see their work and then think “I really want to work with that person”. I think at the end of the day a great collaboration is being able to understand the other person so that you can work efficiently and quickly.
LV: If you make a movie, what’s the most important thing for you? The story, the characters, the actors, etc.?
MM: That’s a tough one. A great cast can breathe life into a story but I think these days there aren’t enough good stories anymore. There used to be so many amazing stories and nowadays films don’t have that kind of suspense and unpredictability anymore that they used to have. Now, they rely on great actors who are making the characters interesting. I think both are equally important. It might be a lame answer but I think it’s impossible to say which one is more important. There are arguments for both.
LV: You said that filmmaking and the passion for film were in your blood but if you weren’t a filmmaker which job would you like to do?
MM: Probably be a pilot or something because I love to travel. However, I don’t think I would pass the exams so I probably would have to be a steward or so. Something that allows me to travel.
LV: Well, I guess filmmaking allows you to travel as well?
MM: Yeah, I’ve been to some interesting places. I went to Pakistan a couple of times to film and that was very interesting.
LV: I just have one last question: Do you already have other films projects your working on?
MM: We’ve got three or four scripts that are now being developed. I’m actually writing one with Robert Kazinsky, who’s the main actor in “For Love or money”. He’s based in LA. We took the script down to Cannes. So yeah I’ve got a few projects and I hope to get busy with those quite soon.