MyMovie MashUp launched this year with a simple aim: have the community of social networking site MySpace conceive, craft and release a movie with a one million pound budget. A few months in and the site’s users have chosen the film’s director. Vito Rocco’s short Goodbye, Cruel World won the minds of the audience and his pitch for a feature called Faintheart sealed the deal. Rotten Tomatoes UK caught up with Rocco following the announcement to find out more…
RT-UK: Congratulations are in order!
Vito Rocco: Yeah, we won! I don’t know how, but we did! Well, I do know how, lots of people voted, it’s brilliant.
RT-UK: As a filmmaker, how does it feel to be preparing to make your first feature?
VR: Brilliant, very exciting. It’s all systems go really. We’ve just gotten rid of all of our hangovers from the celebratory champagne! Actually I haven’t had any champagne yet, but we’re all very excited and getting ready to go. I’m just about to go off to Iceland to do some really thorough research into Viking, Norse mythology.
RT-UK: A break from the norm, then?
VR: Yes it is. The film is a little bit different anyway. It’s called Faintheart; it’s a story set in the world of Viking battle reenactors. It’s about a guy called Richard who’s in his mid-thirties and is a DIY store worker in the day and a Viking reenactor, mighty Norse warrior, by night. He hasn’t really grown up, his wife kicks him out when he misses a very important event and it’s the last straw, so he has to win her heart back and the love of his twelve year-old son who’s being bullied at school because of his dad’s hobby. It’s a kind-of coming-of-age romantic comedy with Vikings.
RT-UK: This is probably the only film in memory that features period dress but isn’t set in a period…
VR: [Laughs] Exactly! I’m hoping to be able to do Jane Austen after this, you know… It’ll lead on to everything!
RT-UK: It must be quite a shock to the system to be suddenly thrust into your first feature film with a one million pound budget and all the press surrounding it – have you adjusted yet?
VR: Well, I kind-of got the wrong end of the stick when I first heard because I thought that I’d won a million quid… [Laughs] I’ve been out spending money on credit cards and I’m in a load of trouble now… I’ve just got to make amends there!
No, it’s fantastic, as all short filmmakers know, you work for years and years literally on the breadline, you don’t know where the money is going to come from for the next movie, and you just have to work towards trying to convince somebody to believe in your project. So this has come as a fantastic early Christmas present, and I just hope that with the support of everybody at MySpace and the MySpace community we’ll be able to make a fantastically different, new kind of film. If it’s a total and utter failure, it’s not really my fault, it’s everybody’s fault! That’s the beauty of MySpace, everybody’s involved. I’m 0sure it won’t be a failure!
For me personally, it’s brilliant to know that something you believe passionately in is going to happen, and to have other people believe in it and make it happen, it’s just like a fantastic present.
VR: Yeah; what’s been helpful over the entire voting process has been getting some really positive comments from people. That’s not to say that everyone’s going to like the movie, because film critics don’t always agree on movies, that’s why there are many of them, but what’s most useful to me is getting really positive contributions and suggestions while the film is being made. It’s quite easy to be negative about things, but if anyone wants to have an opinion about something it’d be great if they offered another suggestion; something I hadn’t thought of.
RT-UK: Have you had a chance to meet the judging panel?
VR: No, I haven’t spoken to any of them yet… I tried calling them but the phone just went dead when I said who I was so I don’t know if that’s a wrong number or what… [Laughs] I don’t know if it’s part of the process to meet them or not, but it’d be great to find out the do’s and don’t’s, or any tips they have about making a film. Whether you should get a giant Winnebago for the actors, all that sort of stuff. I’m not very good at treating actors like cattle – isn’t that the classic Hitchcock quote? – they’re more like little puppies. I think getting any kind of input, any kind of advice, would be great.
RT-UK: Have you already started to think about casting and any names you’d like to approach?
VR: We’re just starting to think about it now, actually, so there’s nobody yet them I’m able to say. Just who’s right for the part, really; it might be somebody who’s never done anything before. Richard is such a life-lover. He kind-of gets it wrong, he’s a bit of a misfit and a bit of a loser, but underneath he’s got the biggest heart you can imagine. So it could be anyone.
RT-UK: People have said, in connection with the project, that the idea of a group of people contributing to make a movie is never going to work; filmmaking by committee never does. Are you worried that your vision will be affected?
VR: Well, I don’t think that any more than I would with anybody putting their money into a film. If I was fully-financing the film myself then I would be able to say, yeah, it’s what I want, this is how I want to do it, you guys don’t have any say. Part of a director’s job is to fight for what you believe in and I’m assuming that people want me to make this film because they like the films I’ve made to date and so they’d like me to carry on in the same style and vein. So there’s always going to be people with opinions and people who are going to have suggestions, but my vision for the film is very strong and I know where I want the story to go, so whilst I’m very happy for people to give suggestions I’m going to stand up for what I believe in and I think that’s what you have to do as a filmmaker.