"The nature of acting is sitting around and waiting for the phone to ring, which is a soul-destroying thing to do. I decided to take some positive action and work with a writer friend." During this time, Fletcher also discussed his idea with other low-budget filmmaker friends, one of whom had made Shifty for just £100,000. Originally, Wild Bill was intended to be made for the same budget until Fletcher was told he was 'crazy'. The first draft was spread-out across London and this would send the budget spiralling. What was needed was a central location, where nothing could be more than five to ten minutes drive away from as moving cast, crew and equipment around costs money.
Luckily, the film found funding easily enough, "My producer knew a couple of wealthy individuals who loved film and read the script and believed in it." The final budget came in at around £750,000 and the next stage was to pull in a recognisable cast, big names such as Aaron Johnson and Gemma Arterton were both originally due to star in the film. "Literally three weeks before we were supposed to film Aaron called and said 'I'm so sorry, but I just got this huge job in America.' What am I gonna say? Of course it was disappointing for me but I'm not going to say 'Sod you and your job with Glenn Close, come and do this film in the East End of London!' Under much duress he didn't know what else to do and I understood that, I'd have done the same thing." Fortunately, the investors weren't put off and stuck by the project.
As one would expect, being an actor presented many different challenges to being an actor. Actors often have the luxury of sitting in a trailer and turn up to do their bit, whereas directors have to do their best keep everyone happy and be constantly involved. Despite this, Fletcher insists that he "only missed acting when things got really hard, there's just so much less responsibility." In no way did this undermine his appreciation of actors though, "What was amazing is that you don't always realise what actors bring, there's always something that's not there on the page." Talking of things not being on the page, we briefly look at a clip from the film where some of the characters throw paper aeroplanes together, a heartfelt scene which is packed with significance. The line in the script simply reads: 'They throw paper aeroplanes'.
Working on location threw up its fair share of problems, filming took place over a particularly snowy winter. When budgets and schedules are tight, filmmakers' time with their cast can be limited, such as with Andy Serkis who was only available for the first two days of the shoot. As luck would have it, on just the second day of the shoot "Everyone was sitting in a cafe looking at a blizzard outside, saying 'what do we do?' and I said 'You know what? I'm sure this scene could take place in a cafe'. Once the train is moving and even though it's only one day in, it's moving and you've got to be adaptable." Having paid the cafe owner to close up shop for the day, the scenes were shot. The stresses of the shoot weren't over then either, the ending even had to be re-shot as the original scene 'didn't work'. Fletcher recalls something he was told by a fellow filmmaker, "Someone told me that making a film is like to trying to nail a snake to the side of a moving train with a glass hammer. It's this frantic, scary, impossible task. That's the nature of it."
Before the shoot, Fletcher didn't have much in the way of technical expertise behind the camera, he just had to get the right man for the job to handle that side of things. "I got with the DoP and we sat and watched films we both liked and discussed the look we wanted to create. There was a big discussion about storyboards. We mutually came to the decision that we'd get there and the actors would do something completely different to what we'd expect anyway. The script and the dialogue is very particular, but we gave them freedom in the space to see how the emotions of that moment moved them around the room." Fletcher is of the opinion that technical knowledge isn't strictly necessary for directors "As long as you have a connection and understanding with the DoP that he can deliver what it is you need."
Fletcher seems keen to keep directing for now and is open when pressed on the subject of Wild Bill 2, "If there is going to be a Wild Bill 2, it'll be in twenty years time. It's a bit too soon for that yet, but I'd like to think it's not the end of their story."