Independent comedy thriller at the Chichester International Film Festival

Two Down won Best UK Film on its UK premiere at the Manchester Film Festival.
Two DownTwo Down
Two Down

Chichester now gets an early chance to see the low-budget British independent comedy thriller as a late addition to the Chichester International Film Festival (August 27). It comes from writer/director Matthew Butler and writer/producer Tori Hart under the Fizz and Ginger Films banner. But Matthew will be hoping it’s the names of its executive producers Stephen Fry and Derek Jacobi which will help it on its way, plus the fact it was also partially filmed in a pub belonging to Ian McKellen.

When Sophie Watson (Tori Hart) answers the doorbell and a mortally-wounded hitman falls into her flat, her world is turned upside down. Desperate John Thomas (Alex Hassell) barges into her home and holds her hostage, along with an unsuspecting local delivery boy. Over the course of a couple of hours, a Chinese take-away and a bottle of whisky – while waiting for John’s brother Sam (Nick Rhys) to come and pick him up – the truth begins to emerge as to what really happened to John earlier that day.

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As Matthew says: “Going to festivals is a good way of getting the film out there. We have a sales company on board that are based in LA, but festivals are a good platform for independent films to be seen and heard in Britain.

“We came to an agreement to have a festival year, and it means you can go to some fun and interesting places. It is not all work! But it’s a great way to see how people react to your film. The sales company will be pushing for a cinema release, but there are some independent cinemas that have already said they would be interested. What is great is that the independent cinemas are coming back. There are smaller cinemas out there that are championing smaller films, and it’s a great way of showing you can get an audience.”

As has been said, making a film is potentially the easy bit: “We filmed it at the end of 2013 and now in the middle of 2015, it is coming to life. We have had a year and a half of battering away and saying ‘Please watch our film!’ But we have been lucky. Having Stephen Fry and Derek Jacobi as our executive producers really does open some doors. People are interested when you have got two such very different people coming on board what is essentially a 70s-inspired hitman film, an actor-driven comedy thriller.”

Two Down is the company’s second feature: “After finishing our first film Miss In Her Teens, which was an adaptation of an 18th-century play, we wanted to do something completely different. We wanted to keep the budget as small as we could so we could keep as much control over the production as possible. So we started with the idea of just three actors in one location, with an injured hit man breaking into a young couple’s house. The idea evolved from there, and having an eccentric, wounded hitman staying in your flat gave us nice high stakes to play with.”

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Stephen Fry and Sir Derek Jacobi became involved when Matthew and Tori were introduced to them by their friend Ian McKellen.

“We had known Ian for years, and he’s always been a big supporter of what we do; now, happily Stephen has also become a big fan. Ian has been involved in a couple of our short films and narrated our first feature which has just been released in the US.”

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