I had the opportunity to speak with British film producer Jonathan Sothcott whose new film We Still Steal The Old Way is currently available on DVD and Digital Download. We discussed the production of his new movie, his start into the industry thanks to Spandau Ballet’s Martin Kemp, his early love of cinema and his upcoming projects.
Can you tell us about the plot of We Still Steal The Old Way? What can audiences expect from this follow up and is a sequel more harder to develop than a original film?
If you’ve not seen WE STILL KILL THE OLD WAY it’s an urban revenge film with the Archer gang (Krays era gangsters) cleaning up the streets after a postcode gang murder their leader’s brother. In STEAL we pick up 6 months later with the Archer gang caught red handed midway through a daring Hatton Garden style heist… but it’s a ploy on their part to get themselves into the same prison as an old comrade they want to break out. The fly in the ointment is their old nemesis ‘Slick’ Vic Farrow (McVicar’s Billy Murray) who’s also in the prison and looking for revenge. It has a similar mix of action, wit and hokum that the first one did, with a more capery feel. To be honest sequels to successful films are fairly easy to set up – there’s no point making them if the first one isn’t successful.
How long was the shoot for We Still Steal The Old Way? Where was it filmed? and how was it financed?
It was a 3 x 6 day week with a couple of pick up days. The main unit was all shot at a now demolished former prison called Latchmere House. It was very spooky. The second unit stuff was shot in Hollywood where Ian Ogilvy conveniently now lives! The film was fully financed by the distributor Platform Entertainment, who had also financed the first one. Its always nice when a studio funds the film in advance: shows they have real faith in it.
What was the experience like working with the cast, director and crew?
Well it was lovely – like a family reunion. Ian Ogilvy and Chris Ellison are two of my favourite actors to work with. I always have fun with Lysette Anthony, she’s a one off. Patrick Bergin, Vas Blackwood and Tony Denham I have worked with before. I was very pleased to give Deborah Moore a good role – I have been a fan of hers for 20 years and she has become a good friend. Couldn’t ask for a nicer cast. One of the things about the older cast is that they are all such pros – no egos, no moaning, they love it and they’re great at it. Its always lovely working with Sacha Bennett the director, he’s a nice man with good energy who knows what he wants.
Do you have a favourite moment from We Still Steal The Old Way?
Yes. Billy Murray walking on set. Billy has been a close friend of mine for the last decade and I’m terribly fond of him. He’s a fine actor and just a really cool guy (he’s exactly like he is on TV except he’s also hilariously funny). Over the years we have been on holiday, spent Christmas together, all kinds of stuff. But until ‘Steal’ he’s never done a lead role in one of my films. He’d done great supporting turns in Stalker and Airborne but I really wanted him to do something worthy of him. Seeing him spark off Ellison, Bergin and particularly Ogilvy was wonderful and I hope went 0.5% towards repaying him for everything he’s done for me over the years. You should never forget the people who help you when you’re at the bottom and Billy helped more than anyone else.
Is the market for the types of films you produce through DVD/Blu-Ray sales still buoyant? Has the streaming method of film distribution affected it?
We’ll find out this week. As we talk I have just seen the day 1 numbers are we are the number 1 straight to video title in the country (just ahead of the new Steven Seagal movie) and number 13 overall. That’s without any TV commercials or fancy advertising. So yes, there is clearly still legs in DVD and Blu ray.
What hurts us is piracy. I can’t believe how relentlessly and remorselessly We Still Steal The Old Way has been downloaded illegally. I have twitter spat after twitter spat with people over it, many of whom are either stupid or uneducated enough to tell me how much they enjoyed watching my film on a pirate site! I had a titanic ding dong with Kodi on Twitter – they ended up blocking me – because they refuse to condemn piracy. Absolute insanity. It’s a simple equation – if film revenues continue to plummet because people don’t buy them legally, nobody will finance any more films. Then there’ll be nothing for the pirates to pirate!
How did you become a producer and where you always interested in a career in the film industry?
Yes I think I was watching films in the womb. I was film mad as a kid – James Bond, Jaws, Hammer Horror. Its not hard to see what informed my commercial taste. I started as a film journalist and interviewed some amazing people. After a year running The Horror Channel in my mid-20s I worked for a producer named David Wickes. During that time I met the actor Martin Kemp. We became good friends and he was looking to direct… So we made a short film called Karma Magnet, starring his brother and Adele Silva, which he directed. We than made a micro budget horror feature called Stalker. Martin’s initial belief in me is the reason I’m here 30 movies later – I was very lucky.
What are you currently working on at the moment?
A third (and final) We Still film – We Still Die The Old Way. A couple of American horrors called Tormented and Pentagram. A war hero biopic, a Shakespeare, a hooligan film, a US-set sex comedy and some television. Our slate is constantly evolving and expanding – I get tired just thinking about it.
What do you think of how things are currently in the British film industry and does some of the snobbishness to the type of film you produce affect you?
No if people are snobby it just means that what you do is popular. I find the British film industry incredibly frustrating – people just want to sit around having coffee mornings and getting angry about petty issues and politics rather than getting on and making entertaining films. I’m an unapologetic populist – I make fun films that people want to see – they have no agenda other than to entertain. I’m just not the guy to make ‘worthy’ films – I know this isn’t the right thing to say but I fell fast asleep watching I, Daniel Blake on a plane the other day. I am a great fan of pop corn movies.
What movies did you enjoy watching growing up and now you are working on them?
I have always loved action movies – Bond, Predator, Death Wish, Commando, Die Hard, Steven Seagal… and that hasn’t changed. I also love horror movies, all the classics from Hammer and The Wicker Man to the eighties stuff; Lost Boys, Fright Night, Nightmare on Elm Street. I love the Marvel Comics movies now, Avengers Assemble was amazing. And the Dark Knight Trilogy – less so the new wave of DC films though I did enjoy Suicide Squad. I also love the British gangster movies (surprise!) with favourites being The Long Good Friday, Lock Stock and Layer Cake.
Do you have any advice for anyone interested in a career in film production?
Yes – get out there and make films! You’d be shocked at how many micro budget films are shot on iPhones (trust me, I’m regularly shocked by this!) – digital technology makes it so easy and so cheap. Don’t wait for opportunity to come knocking – get out there and find it!
We Still Steal The Old Way Available on DVD and Digital Download Now