Chicks Chat with…
Martin Delaney actor, writer, director and producer. He is probably more known as an actor working across the board in Theatre, TV and Film. His credits include Oscar winning Zero Dark Thirty, Oscar nominated Flags of Our Fathers, Beowulf and Grendel, Judas Ghost and the lead in British Comedy Amar, Akbar and Tony. Available now on DVD, TLC review here . He can also be seen in this years Summer blockbuster Now You See Me 2.
He has turned his hand to writing and directing his own short film Queen Mile. A firm favourite at festivals and nominated for Best Short film at the Iris Prize. The largest and most recognized international festival celebrating the LGBT community.
As a successful actor, you’re not short of projects telling “other peoples stories”. What lead you into writing?
Well as an actor first and foremost, I’ve always been inspired by story and I love acting because I believe in the idea of storytelling. I always had ideas for children’s books when I was younger and creative writing is something that I found a joy in, whilst I was at school. Professionally I had only written for comedy, in TV. Fast forward to 2014, where at this point I had been toying with the idea of producing and directing a short film for a good while. I’d had idea and after idea, that I had written down over the years just hanging around, nothing being done with them – I even have a feature script ready. However timing seemed right to get a short film going now, and whilst working with Film London on their producer-nurturing ‘Build Your Audience’ scheme, I had some inspiration which lead me to think about audience primarily and use one’s creative vision to serve them in the writing. I had a strong opinion that the LGBT community was potentially underserved as an audience, and most importantly, that LGBT content was not often enough brought forward into the main stream. This inspiration took me somewhere that I didn’t expect: I wrote a piece that was entirely new, about a character on paper I had little in common with. However thematically I felt like it was something I knew a great deal about, love and the heartache that potentially accompanies it. Only here my two leads happened to be women. That was the beginning of Queen’s Mile, and telling this particular story.
There is a focus at the moment to cover and tell stories from the much neglected LGBT community, was that a conscious decision for you?
For sure. I felt like that content has struggled to have a voice in main stream media, which feels sad, not to mention out of date. I wanted to tell a story that represents the London that see around me, where an LGBT love story is totally normal. I felt, the only way for that to work, was to tell a story with gay characters where none of the drama in the piece was related to sexuality. In effect what we’re left with, is a love and loss story exploring universal themes, which film has done for years heterosexually.
Who are the directors you most admire and why?
I had the huge pleasure to work with Kathryn Bigelow a few years back on Zero Dark Thirty. I think she is a fine director. From the original Point Break to The Hurt Locker, she has a wonderful and diverse catalogue of films. I found her so incredibly charming at work and a real inspiration. Personally I’m fond of directors who are capable of that versatility and range in style. It’s what I admire in any artist, and what I aspire to as an actor, a writer and director.
You clearly write beautifully for women. The film really gets under the skin of the female central character, exquisitely played by Emerald O’Hanrahan. What was your process from preparation of script to working with her on set?
Thank you so much, and you’re right Emerald is fantastic in the piece. Just so perfect for the role. I’ve known Emerald for some time, as we acted opposite each other a few years ago in a TV show, so I always had her in mind. If I’m honest I explored the character same way I would explore any character of any gender or sexuality. I thought that would appropriately serve the piece that I wanted to write. It was was the anxiety that she was going through that was key to serving the story best. Emerald brought so much to it, that it made it entirely come alive. I can guarantee the writing wasn’t as good as what Emerald gave us. She’s a star! I would often roll the camera when we were filming scenes and talk to her as we shot, I felt like it helped to bring instant responses, so in some way I took on the voice in her head at points. What she then does with that is so magical. Again, apart from the few simple lines that I had written, the chemistry you see between Emerald and Amrita is again all down to them. They are such talented performers and it was a real pleasure for me to see them gel in the way they did. There’s one scene in particular near the end of the piece where they look in each other’s eyes, with no words and you can see their entire story. Their past, their present. It’s an incredible moment between them both.
Emerald’s character is struggling with depression and anxiety. Did you research into that, or do you have experience of it?
Much as I don’t know what it’s like to be a female, or a lesbian for that matter, I felt like what I did know about when writing Queen’s Mile, was the idea of suffering from anxiety. As well as the idea of losing love. I knew something about those and wanted to explore them in some detail. I guess I held on to he idea of the caterpillar and how it’s end actually marks it’s beginning. For me that was a conscious element to writing the story. In the same way I had personally experienced sadness, loss and anxiety in my life. What I didn’t realise at the time going through all that, was that I was on the cusp of finding a new me, my own butterfly, who would learn to appreciate life in a new way. To spread its wings, take risks and achieve desires I always had. In my early 20’s I had experienced anxiety attacks which for a good year or so, felt like they were entirely debilitating. I often wished I didn’t suffer them, or asked questions like why me? Well, I never ask those questions anymore. Going through what I went through, taught me much more about gratitude than blame. I feel like I needed that experience to be exactly who I am today. Much like my own personal journey, ‘The Girl’ in Queen’s Mile, who represents us all, is on track to finding a courage and coping mechanism that only comes from hitting rock bottom.
How long did the film take from conception to fully realised film?
Well the writing and pre-production and production was all pretty swift. We shot along the Southbank in London for just four days! The real work starts after that. Getting the post production done, of course depends on finance and having the cash to spend on it. Then the festival planning and journey is a whole other story! That’s the time consuming element, because your festival run can last a while, not to mention the work that goes into entering the film. Queen’s Mile has been made in association with Mini Productions and those girls are just amazing. They’re a dynamic duo consisting of April Kelley and Sara Huxley – a fantastic female team! I feel so fortunate to have been joined by them on this journey. Couldn’t have done it without them.
The film leaves you wanting to know more…What are your hopes for the film…a feature?
Oh that’s great! I’m glad you felt like that. I don’t think I want to develop it as a feature. I believe Queen’s Mile works in short format and I like the fact that audiences like yourself want to see what happens next for our lead. It’s ultimately a heart-breaking/heart-warming tale, depending on what you see in it, or how you see life for example. I personally think of it as a story about a young person finding their courage and hope for the future. Its a cloud with a silver lining.
Finally Martin, what’s next for you?
Well for now it’s back to acting. Season 2 of Josh Widdicombe’s sitcom JOSH, is currently on iPlayer and BBC1. I guest star in episode 2 of the new season, along with Freya Parker. I’m filming an American role currently in a big UK/US co-production, unfortunately I can’t say much about that at the moment. I’d love to direct a comedy short at some point soon and I’m developing an idea with a couple of fantastic comedy writers, so you never know, it may be the one for me!
Thank you Martin xx
Take a look at the Trailer:
Interviewed by Karen Bryson
Follow Martin on:
To find out more about the Queen’s Mile visit: Mini Productions