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Q and A with scriptwriter and playwright Robin French
Tuesday 24 June 2014, by
Robin French writes for theatre and television. He wrote the script for the short film Crocodile, directed by Gaelle Denis, that was screened at La Semaine de la Critique in Cannes and subsequently won the Short Film Prize. French’s first play, Bear Hug won the Royal Court Theatre Young Writers Programme. His play The Red Helicopter was performed at the Almeida theatre in 2010. He also co-wrote the sitcom Cuckoo, co-created the US sitcom Roommates and is co-creator and co-writer of ITV2’s mystery drama Trinity.
We caught up with him after the screening of Crocodile.
How did the idea and execution of Crocodile come about?
One of my friends told me about the BFI competition and encouraged to submit something. The idea for the story popped into my head, and intrigued me. Then one night I sat down to write and the script came out pretty much fully formed. I actually found writing it extremely emotional, probably some self-therapy was going on somewhere - but I can’t explain it beyond that!
Did you work together on part of the project (production, writing, post-production) or were specific tasks assigned to each member of the team?
The script was submitted to the BFI and I got valuable input from them, from Lighthouse, from Kate Leys, from my co-producer Zorana and my friend Amanda Boyle.
Then, with the BFI and Lighthouse, we got the script to director Gaelle, and co-producer Ohna - then they took the project on from there, and worked their magic.
How did the decision to enter it in Semaine de la Critique in Cannes come about?
I think this was Ohna’s idea - it turned out to be a good one!
What was the casting process like?
Great fun. Gaelle is a very intuitive director, and she had a clear idea of what she was looking for in Simon - which we found in Michael Gould. I’m a playwright as well as a screenwriter, so I was especially delighted that the brilliant playwright Alecky Blythe appears in the cast as Beverly.
How similar or different was working on a short film to previous projects you’ve been involved in in television?
I feel like everything has been a different experience, even within my television work.
What restrictions did you face?
I’m lucky as the writer to be protected from a lot of this - but I know Gaelle and Ohna worked incredibly hard, and hurdled many hurdles to to get everything perfect.
What did the selection and subsequent win in Cannes mean for the film? Will it go on to other festivals?
I hope it will go onto other festivals yes, I think it’s a special film and I would love as many people to see it as possible.
What does it mean for the team? Did it initiate any future projects?
We certainly hope so!
Highlights and lowlights of the trip?
Highlight was definitely seeing "Crocodile" on a big screen in a packed cinema for the first time, and hearing them react to the film. The Semaine de la critique party was also really fun, I loved meeting the other filmmakers, and also the many many cocktails.