Let’s face it, getting any film made is an achievement. Persuading the right people to part with large amounts of cash to back your vision with little guarantee of investment, getting the right script, the right cast and crew, and then blending it all together to make something that entertains an audience takes talent and no small amount of tenacity. RSC caught up with director Jack Spring to talk about his feature debut, Destination: Dewsbury, to find out more about the film, how he got it made and what is next for the talented 22-year-old filmmaker and former hot tub magnate.
So tell us a bit more about Destination: Dewsbury
“This project is essentially a middle-aged version of the Inbetweeners. Me growing up being 13, 14 when the Inbetweeners came out. That was a huge influence, you know. I absolutely love that. So we wanted to recreate something in the field because we felt that no-one at the time had really done it since. I used to go drinking with Dad and his mates over Christmas, we used to do a bar crawl. It was hilarious, they were just as stupid as I was and they are middle-aged blokes.”
Who were your main inspirations and reference points when putting this together?
“We didn’t get the chance to really do it on Dewsbury because it was only a three-week shoot, but I have been influenced by Edgar Wright. It’s the way he uses the camera as a comedic device that I absolutely love and we’re shooting the next film in June, so there’s a lot more opportunity for that side of my filmmaking to come out.”
When I was doing a bit of research I clocked on your IMDB page that it mentions you grew up under the wing of Edgar Wright, Guy Ritchie, and Wes Anderson. What is the story there? Are you mates with all those guys?
“No, not at all. No idea, someone else wrote it. They are quite public influences as filmmakers but I’m not some sort of chicken in their little nest.”
Haha yeah, I was thinking, “Wow that’s amazing”. When are those three guys going to ever be in the same room, I’d love to hang out with them! That would be cool.
“I know that would be cool, right? Christ.”
Tell us a bit more about how this project all came together for you.
I did a year at York Uni and dropped out because I didn’t like it. And the guys sat me down and I explained [to them] how I thought about life and the world and they said, go quit, make some shorts and that will open some doors for you. So I did and sort of quit without really thinking about it, and it all just sort of worked out and we made a £150-grand budget movie.
We didn’t really know any rich people and the rich people we did know didn’t want to meet because we were 18. So we thought, there is nothing we can do about being 18, why is that a problem? It’s a problem because we haven’t dealt with large amounts of money, and we’ve never made a profit. No one’s going to trust a bunch of 18-year-old kids with a six-figure budget. They wouldn’t. So I figured I needed to prove my business mind and started an inflatable hot tub hire company.
I was going to ask about that…
Yeah, it grew really quickly. In a year we had like 9 cities then we were able to go back and that all seemed very impressive and then we kind of eventually got the money. So it was a little sidestep into the film world.
So, why hot tubs? Connect the dots for me, because from my point of view, if I’m thinking I need to raise some cash to be taken seriously, obviously the next logical step is we’re going to launch a hot tub company and then sell it and then come back… connect the dots for me, what happens there?
I was still living in York for a second year because I liked it up there and I’d already signed my housing contract. One night, under the watchful eye of Mr. Wetherspoon, I woke up particularly hungover and one of my mates, Kenny, had put a picture of himself in one of those shitty swimming pools on Facebook. Somehow we never knew inflatable hot tubs existed so I googled them and I couldn’t afford to buy one, I just wanted to rent one out for the day and all the websites were s**t. They were just blokes with [email protected] and most of them had just mobile numbers. I was just, I could do it a lot better. There was clearly money in it because there are loads of people doing it, but they’re just rubbish. So we maxed out the student overdraft to buy a hot tub and then a couple of weekends later we had enough for two hot tubs and then three hot tubs, then four, and then when we sold it we had like 65, I think. So yeah, it grew pretty rapidly. But it was a pain in the a*s, I’d have like middle-aged women ringing me at like 3am on a Sunday because they’d put a f*g out on the hot tub and it’s burst and flooded a block of flats. I’d be like ‘why have you done that?’ So it was interesting, it was like 10 years of business school in one year. We made lots of mistakes and benefited a lot from the mistakes I’d made but yeah, we had to go through the business to get the financing, rather than having a rich uncle who could fund the whole thing and it’d be nice and easy but… It wasn’t the case.
Yeah, so that’s a bit of a lesson to all of us that want to do something and find a barrier, just go and start a hot tub company.
Yeah, you can’t just sit there and moan that you never get money in life. You just got to work out a way to do it. It was kind of sink or swim at that point. You’re either going to have a career in film or not; if I wanted any chunks of it I had to get the first one made. Yes, just got to work out a way to do it.
It’s a pretty amazing story. So now we’re here and the film is about to be shown and you’ve got Showcase cinemas distributing. So what is next? You’ve got another film in the works, I understand, is that right?
Yeah, we do! And this is the first interview where I’m allowed to reveal the cast actually.
So this is an exclusive?
This is an exclusive, yeah yeah yeah. So yeah we’ve got three-day millionaire. It’s all set in the Grimsby fishing industry, which is where my family are all from. It’s all about the arse end of the fishing industry. Where young fishermen go out to sea for 21 days and they come back to land for three days. It is fisherman folklore that if you don’t have a family or a wife if you went back to sea with money the ship would sink. So essentially they have three days to spunk a month of wages and this all actually happened, they were known as the three-day millionaires. They’d come back on land, buy pinstriped suits and take s**t loads of ecstasy. In the film, you’re introduced to all the girls that work in the fish factory. It’s a bit “This is England”. Social, working-class group. And yeah, they go out on the razz for three days and have an absolute, massive f*****g party for three days. One of the guys gets one of the girls pregnant. Then the guys get a call on Sunday evening saying they are not going back to sea; they need money for various reasons and they’ve spunked it all so they decide to perform a somewhat ambitious heist and it all inevitably all goes to s**t. But yeah it’s exciting.
The first 20 minutes is a bit like Snatch and there’s a montage. The main character’s voiceover breaks the wall and guides us through the world and yeah. It’s a bit more on the drama side than Dewsbury, it’s still got funny bits but it’s not trying as hard.
So that’s a big uplift from what you’ve been working with this time around. How do you feel about that? Is it all of a sudden, can you just get all the nice food?
One of our investors is Nepalese and he’s insisting on bringing over catering. That’ll be nice, that’ll be cool. It’s been a lot easier to raise the money, we were in a meeting the other day and raised 200 grand in like an hour compared to it taking me 3 years to raise 150 grand for Dewsbury. If you can get names attached, that’s when you add market value to film and when the market value for the film is considerably higher than the budget then it’s easier to get the money in. It’s more of a sound investment, where with Destination: Dewsbury at the start, before theatrical release, by a director no one’s heard of, with a cast no one’s heard of – it’s not an original script, it’s not a groundbreaking story, it was never trying to be. It’s a commercial comedy that’s been done a million times. Yeah, it’s a really good script and the talent is on. Once the talent is on it’s a lot easier.
Destination: Dewsbury is out in selected Showcase Cinemas from 1st March.