Regular readers of this blog will no doubt recognise the name Marc Pye from this, this and this post. As he’s a prolific Bang2writer, I’ve read lots of Marc’s work now and as a veteran of UK TV drama, Marc has written on numerous shows like River City, The Street, Holby Blue and Echo Beach.
In fact, he’s so busy all the time (damn him), it’s wonder Marc has time for anything but writing TV… But he manages it somehow and I’m pleased to announce that Marc, along with co-writers Max Kinnings and Alan Field, have managed to get their very own feature ACT OF GRACE shot and in the can!
I was pleased to read a couple of incarnations of AoG for the boys and can tell you it’s a cracking story; I can’t wait to see it! Starring Leo Gregory (Stoned), Jody Latham (Shameless) and the legendary David Yip (Indiana Jones, Temple of Doom right through to Brookside, Casualty, Liverpool Nativity… You name it, David’s been in it!).
Act of Grace is a really visual piece and a epic story of love and betrayal across a clash of cultures. I asked Marc to provide the blog with some background on Act of Grace and how it came about… Enjoy!
How did you, Max and Alan came to work together?
I’ve been working with Max for about 6 years now. I first met him at a reading we did. I had Lollipop published and Max had Hitman and our publishers booked us to do a reading at Filthy McNasties in London. We just kind of got on, shared the same sense of humour and we kept in touch. A couple of years later Scallies got optioned as a film and I was in need of fresh eyes, so I got the script to Max and asked him if he’d be interested in doing a rewrite. He loved the script and did another draft. The finance fell through so I took it to Granada. They took it on and we’ve been developing it as a pilot for series with them for over a year.
I met Alan on The Street. He wrote episode 4, the one with Jody Latham playing a footballer. It was the last day of the shoot on my ep, so I went down to see it. The Producer Ken Horn said “Oh there’s Alan Field who wrote ep 4, do you want to meet him?” So he introduced us and we got talking about what else we were working on… As usual I was on about 10 different things, but he told me he was concentrating on just this one thing. I asked him what it was and he told me the story about this Chinese kid (Yasin) who arrives from Hong Kong, hardly speaks any English, gets picked on by these kids in school, gets protected by another kid (Dezzie), they become the best of mates and then one day Yasin is taken back to Hong Kong. Dezzie grows up, has a life of petty crime, then one day this Chinese guy appears and it turns out to be Yasin. He offers Dezzie a job working with the family firm, but Dezzie soon realises that he’ll be working as Yasin’s right hand man as a triad. And then the fun begins. It’s basically a gangster film set in Manchester amongst the Chinese community, so it’s quite different.
What was the inspiration behind the story?
I don’t know if it was an urban legend or what. Basically Alan just pitched me it in a couple of lines that day and the hairs on the back of my neck stood up. I was like, “That sounds great. I wish I’d thought of that.” So he asked me did I want to write it with him.
We started writing a treatment, just batting it back and forth by email. I wrote up a pitch and took it round a load of meetings. After The Street I was doing 5 meetings a day in London, so people were keen to see what I was on next and I was buzzing about Act of Grace. Their reactions varied. Some were interested but didn’t want to pursue it, some said they “couldn’t see it working”. Actually I must remember to send them tickets for the premiere ha ha.
How did you get funding to make Act of Grace?
Alan dealt with the whole thing. I’m still amazed how he pulled it together – he’s a natural producer, even having never done the job before. He approached a load of people he knew with money, got Jody, Leo, Jennifer on board, then Noreen our director and put together a business plan. He sold his house and put money from the sale into getting it started and to pay for shooting a trailer, then he had a load of booklets made up with the attached cast and crew, copies of the trailer and he held funding nights for the investors and sold them on the film. We didn’t even have a script in place, as I was too busy working on other stuff and we kept changing the story, as something wasn’t right. Before we knew it the money started coming in and the shoot date was approaching.
There was something still not right with the story but we’d been living and breathing it for over a year, so I asked Alan if I could show it to Max, as he’s always great at coming at things from a different angle. Every time I was in London I’d get talking to Max about Act of Grace and he was really interested, always coming back with loads of ideas, so Alan said he’d trust my judgement and while he was busy with the finance and production side of things, I worked with Max on the existing treatment and we did another draft and came up with the story we have now. Then I gave it to you for your thoughts and asked you be ruthless with it, which was exactly what it needed a that stage and the notes and suggestions you had for improving it were great – everyone was really pleased with them.
We took them on board then, met up with Alan and Noreen Kershaw the director and made more changes, did another draft and then I suggested we write an act each. Alan did the first, I did the second and Max did the third, but as lead writer (I think that’s their nice way of saying ‘oldest’) I then did a polish. Even through the shoot I was rewriting scenes because of location changes and stuff. I’d get a phone call from Alan around 11pm, scribble down a load of stuff and have the scenes turned round for the following morning. In fact even though we wrapped on Saturday Max has just emailed me some voiceovers we need for Leo to do!
There you have it: proof that if you want something badly enough, you make it happen? Quite possibly. Thanks Marc!
TMW: The logline and synopsis, plus links, photo and the trailer!!