THE ESCAPIST is a thriller and a love story, written by Nick Perry, produced by Jolyon Symonds. A man (Jonny Lee Miller, who I had worked with on REGENERATION), witnesses the brutal murder of his wife and can’t rest until he takes revenge. The murderer (Andy Serkis) is in a high security prison and the only way he (Jonny) can get to him is by changing his identity and committing a crime, going to prison, and learning to be an escape risk, thus being sent down the line to high security where he can confront his wife’s killer.
It was the first time I worked with DoP Nigel Willoughby, who we found at the eleventh hour. He lit sets beautifully and (critically) in rhythm with the schedule – otherwise this ambitious film could not have been made.
I have now made many movies with designer Andy Harris. We both went to Glasgow School of Art and I think this somehow gives us a common language and understanding. Andy has the ability to know what I want before I do myself. We often refer to photographs and paintings. He has a little joke- every film we make he works a small picture of a Russian icon into the set somewhere. This is reference to our mutual love of Tarkovsky. In this film I found it worked into the texture of a prison wall. He had a brain wave when planning the prison set. We took over an old printing works in Dublin which provided a brilliant steel structure of old printing machines and gantries to build upon when constructing the prison wing. Fabulous.
When we were in the cutting room I received a call from Will Turner at Sky Films, telling me that the company was being liquidated. We finished the film and absolutely nothing happened. Years later my daughter told me she had seen a poster in a video shop and, sure enough, it had been released on DVD, but nobody had thought to tell me this. There are many disappointments in film making. We work so hard and do everything we can to make a good film but its fate is then determined by all kinds of arbitrary factors. Its fate seemed to be many re-runs on Sky TV which, at least, means a lot of people saw it.