Q&A with Marcus Markou
Our media class were fortunate enough to have the director of Papadopoulos & Sons, Marcus Markou himself accept the department's offer to come into a lesson to talk about his film and answer questions about it. Here are 5 of many pieces of interesting knowledge I gained from the Q&A.
- When marketing the film, Marcus did not have a very specific audience in mind. He understood it would generally appeal to families, those struggling in the current economic crisis, as well as children, teenagers and adults due to the multi-generational cast. However he underestimated the huge appeal and demand from the Greek community across Britain, whose strength and support amazed him. Upon realising this, without having distributors or much funding, Marcus took the marketing into his own hands, finding as many Greek churches as he could in the UK on a map and personally phoning them to make them aware of the film's release. Marcus also used social media directly; 'tweeting' any fish and chips shops he could find, particularly in London (where many are owned by Greeks).
- With an unsurprisingly small budget, Marcus largely avoided acting agencies to employ his cast, and directly approached many of the actors he had mentally hand picked for the roles. Stephen Dillane, a fairly well known actor, agreed to star in the film very cheaply due to his love for the script and story. He was currently acting in HBO's hugely expensive Game of Thrones at the time, but given the offer to work with his drama-schooled teenage son, as his father in the actual film, Stephen managed to convince the producers of Game of Thrones to work his acting schedule around him starring in Papadopoulos & Sons.
- Marcus avoided conforming to the traditional hierarchy that exists in most films that are in production. He strayed from the expected superiority complex and removed the benefits of being a big actor or director by using a first-come first-served basis for catering queues, rather than order being dependent on salary or importance like in many other films. He made a great effort to learn the names of all the cast and crew in the first day, and to make the experience as informal and enjoyable as possible off set, in order to create a smooth, comfortable process and therefore amount to more natural dynamics on set. As a result people got on well and the film was produced amongst a happy, family atmosphere.
- Marcus drew a vast proportion of the film from his own life and experiences. The contrast between Harry and Uncle Spiros represented Marcus' own connection with his Greek culture which he often felt he was losing living in London. Writing Papadopoulos & Sons was very personal to Marcus; he didn't plan for the project to make a profit, only to break even and partake in his love of storytelling to share with everyone, hoping others could relate to losing touch with their cultural identity.
- As expected of an independent film, Papadopoulos & Sons was shot on location, but the number of locations used being kept so low was an impressive feat. They actually bought a disused shop in Morden to use as the fish shop and bought another nearby to use on the outside as the rival Turkish kebab shop, and inside as offices to work in without use as the set. By making the most out of every location the spending was kept to a minimum, equipment wouldn't have to be hauled around long distances often, and the production of the film worked much more smoothly and efficiently.