Gary Thompson: Brit filmmakers no big deal, says director

Posted: June 17, 2011

THE BRITISH aren't coming.

The British aren't coming.

So says Richard Ayoade, writer-director of the well-reviewed new comedy "Submarine," which follows Joe Wright's "Hanna," Kenneth Branagh's "Thor," Matthew Vaughn's "X-Men: First Class," and arrives the same day as Martin Campbell's "Green Lantern." I also cited Edgar Wright, of "Sean of the Dead," who produced "Attack the Block," which opens here in September, as evidence that the British are suddenly very busy on colonial screens.

They're in charge of some of the biggest franchises, and are doing some of the most interesting work around.

Ayoade is having none of it.

His two-word rejoinder: "Alfred Hitchcock."

Meaning the presence of Brits in Hollywood is no novelty, probably not worth mentioning.

"I think David Lean was known there, also," Ayoade said, tersely.

The phone-tired Ayoade is not in a funny mood, for a reputedly hilarious guy. Ayoade created and starred in the British comedies "The IT Crowd," and "Gareth Marengi's Dark Place." Both are big hits on Netflix, both attracted the attention of Hollywood - there was a failed attempt to Americanize "Crowd," and Ben Stiller optioned "Dark Place." That didn't happen, but Stiller did executive produce Ayoade's "Submarine," a first-love, coming-of-age story adapted from Joe Dunthorne's 2008 novel.

Ayoade will be introduced to U.S. audiences via "Submarine," his first feature (he writes, directs, does not act), a movie that he used to pay homage (in a comic way) to the Francois Truffaut, Jean-Luc Godard, Nicholas Roeg movies he watched as a kid.

He doesn't want to talk about that, either.

"I like the films of John Ford, too, but his style did not seem appropriate to the task at hand."

Ayoade goes on to say he's a huge Martin Scorsese fan, and we finally bonded over our shared appreciation of how brilliantly edited Scorsese's movies are (by Thelma Schoonmaker).

Editing was the thing that scared Ayoade most about making the jump to features.

"I was really lucky. I had two really good editors, from 'Slumdog Millionaire,' " he said.

"I think the most depressing part of making a movie for the first time is when you put it all together you're sure its the worst thing ever.

"Then you start the editing, and it's gets better.

"Then it gets worse, then better and you repeat the process until it gets good."

Send email to thompsg@phillynews.

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