Christopher Downie [Interview]

For several years now, I am have been following the production of a film that I have been so excited about that is finally coming to the world! If you happened to check out yesterday’s Sunday Matinee  about Vincent Pereria’s A Better Place, you will know I am talking about Shooting Clerks. If you are just joining us today as a Christopher Downie fan, well, I am still talking about Shooting Clerks, but go back and read that when you are done here! Yes, several years ago Scottish filmmaker Christopher Downie began an adventure in telling the tale of how one of the greatest films in independent cinema came to be. And this coming weekend, the world is finally going to get a glance at one of the most anticipated films of the decade.

And wouldn’t you know it, I have finally secured some wonderful words from the great Christopher Downie! He is an absolutely lovely gentleman who we are so excited to have with us today. He is a brilliant filmmaker that we will definitely be paying a lot of attention to throughout the rest of his career that is sure to flourish. Christopher Downie has been working in the world of Kevin Smith for quite some time now, but Shooting Clerks marks his first feature film based around the beautiful world that Kevin has created over the last three decades. Shooting Clerks is bound to be a brilliant experience that you certainly will not want to miss. And with a genius like Christopher behind the project, there is absolutely no way this film is not going to be one of the best films of 2017.

Shooting Clerks will premiere this weekend in the place where the whole journey began almost 25 years ago, Highlands, New Jersey. Downie and several cast and crew members will be at the event, as well as Kevin Smith himself on August 5th! Pick up your tickets to the event right HERE.

But for now, please enjoy this amazing interview with the great Christopher Downie! Enjoy!

What was your first exposure to the world of film that made you decide that this was what you wanted to do with your life? What drew you to this world?

When I was 13 years old, a friend of mine offered me a copy of Dogma; a film he had watched once and instantly took a disliking to. I eventually wore that tape out. I then saw Chasing Amy, having found out that Jay and Bob appeared in both. A shared universe like that, in a comedy, blew my mind and instantly captured my imagination. I had to have more. Luckily, there was more – a lot more.

What is your own film community like in Scotland? For those of us who may simply be ignorant Americans that can only think of Trainspotting, what is the artistic community, specifically in the world of film like in your area of Scotland, and the country as a whole?

Trainspotting is definitely the pinnacle when it comes to Scottish filmmaking, although it wasn’t directed by a Scot. Usually, there are two types of films produced back home; Gangster films or period pieces. These are the country’s bread and butter. Occasionally you’ll get filmmakers like Peter Mullen, who’ll knock out a real belter of a film about the class struggle of the nineteen seventies but usually we stick to the aforementioned fair.

What sort of research did you go into to retell the story of the making of Clerks? I know Kevin is a talker, and has probably told variations of birth of Clerks on several different formats over the years, but were there any other tools you may have used to help develop this story into a cinematic venture?

I think I started gathering material in the late 2000’s, unconsciously of course. I seem to retain dates and film facts really well so when the time came to lay out the treatment, I did it without any additional research. As I started to re-draft, I went digging. I managed to get in touch with all the main players, from Brian O’Halloran to Marilyn Ghigliotti. Everyone was very accommodating and generous with their time. Using these interviews, I managed to hack down the bloated treatment into something that resembles what we ended up with. If not for the kindness of people like Brian and Marilyn, as well as Ernie O’Donnell, Betsy Broussard and my man, Scott Schiaffo, this film would be a shadow of it’s current self.

 

It seems like a great bit of a fortune that you managed to have several cast members from the original Clerks film on set with you some of the time when filming Shooting Clerks, including our old friends like Marilyn, Scott, and Ernie. As folks who were there when the events were actually taking place, did they manage to give you any solid input during shoots? Anything specific you can tell us about?

I really don’t want to spoil it for you or your readers. That being said, my chats with Ernie helped shape the dynamic between his character (as in the character of Ernie) and that of Kevin’s.

Along with cameos and appearances from original cast mates, you even manage to film exterior shots in the original locations of Quick Stop and RST Video, and the general area of New Jersey. What was it like being on those sacred grounds, and working to set the place back in time to almost 25 years ago?

Sadly for me, I didnt shoot those sequences – the on location shoot was orchestrated by my producer and 2nd unit director, Ryan James. I did shoot one scene there, a scene we decided to add to the film when we were promoting the film back in November. That was surreal, I can tell you – it was like setting foot on the set of the Death Star. I can’t wait to go back.

Now that the film is done and about to be released upon the world, what do you believe that die hard Kevin Smith fans (i.e. those of us who genuinely love Yoga Hosers!) are really going to enjoy about this film?

Aside from the obvious nods to certain scenes and scenarios from the original film, I think the fans will get a kick out of the Easter eggs and references to Kevin’s other work. There are literally hundreds of them in there. I’m hoping the arcs of both Kevin and Bry will satisfy fans of SModco podcasts like Highlands: a Peephole History and Tell ‘Em Steve Dave.

Now that Shooting Clerks is soon to be out in the world, what is next for you? Anything else you would like to plug to our readers?

We have various productions in the works at the moment with one in particular circled for 2018. It’ll be something of a departure from Shooting Clerks – a socially charged horror film set in the 1920’s. Way to jump genres, right? Even though it’ll be a period piece with one foot in the supernatural, it’ll be a heck of lot easier to make than our first feature film outing.

What was the last thing that made you smile?

I have to say that being interviewed by you is up there. These last few days, and everything that’s unfolded, have been some of the best times of my life.

Check out this amazing trailer for Shooting Clerks courtesy of Auld Reekie Media, if you find yourself in New Jersey this weekend, be sure to catch Christopher at the Atlantic Highlands Cinema 5 on August 5th with special guest Kevin Smith:

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About rontrembathiii
write. write. write.

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