Plex First question – I've read you turned this around for £500. Really?
Nick Nevern That was just for the post-production. The actual film, what you see on the screen, was pretty much made for nothing.
What were you using to film it?
NN A Canon handicam camcorder that my mum gave to me in 1997. Like you take on holiday, the fat ones.
The fact that it was £500 was a benefit in a way. If you had £50,000 or £500,000 it would have been a different film.
NN I completely agree. I would've done it but it would have been a different movie. It would have been like Pimp.
NN [Speaks directly into recorder]. I LIKE PIMP, I'VE GOT IT ON DVD, ROBERT, IF YOU'RE LISTENING.
Robert [ ] is good in it.
NN He is, yeah.
And Mr Dyer?
NN [Laughs] He's just a little too much, I didn't believe him.
NN Totally miscast – they needed someone older to play that role, there are so many British actors who could've played that role and given it a little more cred.
How did the film get off the ground?
NN I had the idea in 2008 and I shot it that summer. It's taken that long to get it to this stage. My friend Steve did the editing, he saved my life, I'd never met him until I did the film. A mutual friend introduced us and I showed him some clips on my phone that I'd filmed off the telly. He looked at it, he was like that's wicked, I reckon we could so something with that. Lionsgate got involved right at the end of it, the last people to get on. Organic did the PR – big shout out to them, they were awesome. After we won the Portobello Film Festival we had a number of distribution deals put to us from a number of different companies We went with Stealth Media in the end and then they introduced us to Lionsgate. It's all gone well – word of mouth is spreading and the sales have held up. We've been in the top 30 for three weeks and we were up against some massive titles like Saw 3D.
Must have felt great?
NN It felt good.
I bet you loved going into HMV to see it lined up on the shelves?
NN I did. Let me show you a picture, this is cool. [Gets out phone]. This bloke in HMV in Glasgow was picking up a copy of the film while I was next door. Didn't buy it! There are two HMVs in Glasgow and the first day we went there it wasn't in the new release chart. I went to see the manager and I kicked up a fuss – this bloke comes down, I go to the T section and explain that it's my film and it isn't in the new release section. He apologises and clears space, puts it into the new release section. When I came back in later they've moved it back into the T section again! Very embarassing.
This is the first film that you've directed. How did you find it different from the TV stuff.
NN It's longer! TV stuff pays better but it's different because I made this from birth. I'm not just acting. If you do TV and they slate the show but they say Nick Nevern was alright, that's still cool. But if they say Nick Nevern was alright in Terry but the film was shit, that hurts because the whole thing is my baby. TV drama is much quicker, they're all about turning over, action! I'll be like can I do another one for you, at least for safety? and they'll be no, move on.
The acting is great in Terry – you're obviously an affable chap, but you're fantastically menacing in this.
NN [goes into character] Yeah, I'm a nice guy but don't fuck with me…
[Plex laughs nervously]
NN I used to be more like Terry when I was 18, I used to think I was the bollocks, I was a right little tearaway. But you need a little handle on that world to be able to play someone like him authentically. Quite a lot of the stuff that happens have happened in real life, some of the stories and sub-plots, plenty of the stories I heard from my mate Ian Duck who plays Spencer.
But the names have been changed to protect the innocent..
NN Yeah, absolutely, but loads of it really happened.
How much of the dialogue was improvised?
NN 80 or 90 per cent. The script was more like a treatment, with plot points and the things that I wanted the characters to say. We've all known each other for years. Some of us went to the same little school together. That's why it comes across. If you'd have got other actors with more pedigree with more work, it wouldn't have been the same.
That's why it's authentic.
Precisely. There's no point getting Bobby RADA to play a crackhead when I can just get Jimmy the crackhead to smoke some crack.
The film has an open ending – thought about whether you'd like to see Terry again?
NN I have an idea for Terry 2, a great idea, I'd love to do one but I don't know if there will be one. It might not be commercially viable. I'm not going to talk about it, but I've got a wicked idea… It'd be in the same style but it'd be a bit more comedy. It'd have a better camera too…
A lot of the critics didn't like the ending.
NN They said I was bottling out. I don't think it was bottling it, I think it was an original ending.
It's a downbeat ending. His life is basically as buggered as when we met him.
NN Yeah, absolutely.
Critics don't know anything!
It reminded me of Man's Bites Dog, the whole found footage thing.
NN They were influences, Man Bites Dog, an Australian film called The Magician, but the main influence was a documentary by Donal MacIntyre called a Very British Gangster about this Manchester gangster. Basically, I had the idea for Terry and then that documentary came out. I was like for fuck's sake, that was totally my idea. But then I thought about ways I could do it, I could make it about a real person. And the found footage thing is the easiest way to make a film, if you've got no money you can film your mates doing something and then turn it into a documentary type film. I had no money, it was cheap, it was the only way I could do it. And it looks real!
Nick Nevern Interview
There's no point getting Bobby RADA to play a crackhead when I can just get Jimmy the crackhead to smoke some crack.
Nick Nevern had practically no money when he set out to make Terry and yet he's produced a fresh and convincing take on the gangster flick. Not everyone will like it, but it's hard to dispute the strong acting, authentic dialogue and a sense of what it must be like to find yourself very much on the wrong side of the streets.
Plex met him in a West London pub to talk about rearranging the shelves in HMV, and why it's always best to cast a crack addict if you want someone to smoke crack in your film.
Plex – the Scarlet Pimpernel of movie reviewing. He’s worked in the industry since the turn of the century, has a black book of contacts worth killing for, and isn’t afraid to give duff films both barrels. Harrison Ford called him ‘that little shit’ and he once trod on Johnny Depp’s foot. That’s just how he rolls.
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