Nothing prehistoric about contemporary love story

Writer-director Paddy Considine and actor Peter Mullen on the set of Tyrannosaur in Leeds
Writer-director Paddy Considine and actor Peter Mullen on the set of Tyrannosaur in Leeds

ALWAYS an edgy and unpredictable actor, Paddy Considine is a director in very much the same vein judging by his debut feature, Tyrannosaur.

It stars Scottish actor Peter Mullan as Joseph, a man plagued by violence and rage, whose encounter with a Christian charity shop worker played by Olivia Colman, helps to pull him from the brink of self-destruction but it turns out she has demons of her own.

Considine was in Sheffield last weekend to introduce a preview of the film which is released on Friday and a member of the Showroom audience asked him where his evident understanding of anger and depression came from. It elicited a frank and revealing answer.

“I didn’t know this until last year when I was diagnosed with Asperger’s on the Autistic specturm which manifests itself in different ways,” said the film-maker. “And one of those is living in a state of hyper-vigilance and a state of fear that something bad is going to happen to you all the time and I can pretty well find myself in a hole over most situations.

“One of the ways my mind would deal with it was to manufacture scenarios in my head which were quite violent. But I realise now it was a kind of odd way of protecting myself . And the anger thing is something I want to get away from and I think Joseph wants to get away from it and I think he has the same condition.

“This anger and these manifestations mean you feel very trapped and society is a very difficult place to manoevre in,” he continued.

“So I guess that’s something to do with it because I don’t go out and hit people. I would be in prison if I was on of those guys, that’s not my gig.

“But that’s some clue about where it comes from, it’s not just about pushing your chest out and acting tough. It’s not a very pleasant place to be but the way I use it is that I can express it in things like Romeo Brass or Dead Man’s Shoes and on my own, Tyrannosaur.”

Thanks are expressed to Tinker, Tailor star Gary Oldman in the end credits of his film and Considine explained that this goes back to his days as a student of photography when he watched the actor’s directoral debut. “I saw Nil By Mouth and it just spoke to me on many levels. I was hugely inspired by it and it stayed with me.”.

Considine said it helped him understand artistic expression and he began taking photographs around his family back in Burton on Trent - of his mum’s feet, the lino on the floor and the bare walls where his dad had never got round to wallpapering. That informed Joseph’s house in Tyrannosaur. “So you could say this project has been brewing in me for a very long time.”

The he met Oldman on a film in Spain “I wasn’t having a great time on it and Gary was in it, a really brilliant guy that I got on well with,” he recalled. “One day I was in this room and I thought if I don’t do something with how I feel with all these frustrations I am going to smash this room to pieces and I sat down and wrote this short film which I call Dog Altogether.

“I got it printed and showed it to Gary and said, ‘Read it and be really brutal about it, don’t hold back’.

“He read this 11 or 12 pages and he said if he didn’t live in America he would produce it.”

Considine duly made the short film which won a BAFTA and then people began to ask him why he didn’t continue the story so he developed it into feature length.

Sheffield’s Warp Films had backed the short and were once again one of the partners on Tyrannosaur, along with Screen Yorkshire who helped with locations for the film in Leeds.

With its thugs with pitbulls, cocky youths in pubs, and secretly abusive Christians, Considine seems to have a very bleak vision of the world. “I never made Tyrannosaur to be a film about social realism,” he insisted. “Where they are is just where they are. The world it is set is a world I understood and I wanted to make a film about human beings in pain and a film about redemption and about soulmates - two people from different sides of society – and . I wanted to make a film about love.

“I felt my voice had been lost in other people’s films and I realised I was a film-maker in my own right and I had to step away and explore that and make it happen. It wasn’t enough for me, acting. There was a lot more I needed to express.”

It is all about stories, he says, reassuringly concluding: “But I have moved on and the next film I am going to make is a ghost story.”