Director: Erwan Mainopoulous
Stars: Eugene Simon, Scroobius Pip, Daz Black
Kill Ben Lyk is a British-French independent film, co-written and directed by Erwan Marinopoulos and starring Eugene Simon, Simone Ashley and Scroobius Pip.
The story follows a group of people with nothing in common but the same name, Ben Lyk. It’s unfortunate then that a Crime Lord has decided to take out all the Ben Lyks in London.
I was lucky enough to attend a Q and A with the director and three of the stars of the film, Eugene Simon (Ben Lyk), Scroobius Pip (Hipster Ben Lyk) and Daz Black (young Ben Lyk).
(Answers have been edited for clarity, and contain mild spoilers)
What was the inspiration behind the film?
EM: It was a mix of Agatha Christie novels and Guy Ritchie, Tarantino and Edgar Wright films. I was trying to have a mix of all that and just to play with the whole ‘who done it’ mystery crime genre but with a modern and funny twist.
DB: Did you start off trying to create either a comedy or thriller, or did you naturally combine them?
EM: I really wanted to have both. Just because you’re doing a comedy, that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t have a good story. I’m hoping that even though you were surprised by all the twists, that the audience was involved in the story. To me today, it’s not enough to just make some jokes and have funny scenes, you really need a good story to keep an audience’s attention as there’s just too much content to watch. If the story’s not good enough, there’s no point.
The deaths weren’t anticipated, they just sort of happened. How difficult was that?
EM: It’s obvious that there is going to be a lot of deaths right from the start, so the main thing with the writers was really to try and be as surprising as we could every time. With Old Ben, when he runs in to the statue, he’s the military guy, the audience can’t expect that he’s going to die right away. That’s what we were trying to do, trying to be as surprising as we could, even though pretty quickly you know that people are going to die. I have to say that the actors did their own stunts.
ES: I remember the first time we had to do the bottle to the head scene where I get hit by girl Ben. I got up the first time and was like “whooo, wow, let’s do that again.”
EM: We asked the prop guy if it hurt and he was like ‘nah, not at all’.
ES: It was sugar glass, but like really strong sugar glass, like cane sugar glass. When I got hit in the face there was a moment where I was like “I don’t know if they’ve mistaken the bottles but just keep going”
EM: That sugar was old
SP: I felt the style was really distinctive. Because I wasn’t on set as much as these guys, I didn’t get to see that until the cast and crew screening. As soon as the credits started I was like “oh wow” you got a lot from the script but you got so much more from seeing it on the big screen.
DB: The look of the film, the location (a castle in France) and all the colours, everything felt natural. That place looks pretty much how it does in the film and it was such a great location, such a feel that’s unique.
EM: We redid everything as I knew visually how I wanted it to look. It was really the set designer and I, visually we could have a strong personality.
ES: It reminds me of a Cluedo board, those really nice purple colours.
The timing and the pace were perfect throughout, you could time it on a metronome.
EM: Right from the start when we were writing, I wanted to keep it short. My producer was always like “can’t it be 90 minutes?” And I was like no, 80, 80.
How long were you in the house filming?
EM: 18 days, which wasn’t enough. We managed to do it but you really need to have good actors because you can’t have more than two or three takes. Well except when Scroobius had to jump out from the window.
SB: I was a stuntman, throwing myself out of a window, which never even made it in! I did that 14 times, I was battered and bruised in the morning. But again it’s why it means so much that audiences are able to see it in an actual cinema as there was such a limited amount of time. There was a point where we weren’t sure if it was going to get any kind of release, right? Because it’s really hard to get films out these days, so it means the world.
How did the project come together, did you write the script on spec and then get funding?
EM: I did write the script on spec and I’m one of the producers of the project so I went to find some money myself. I had two co-producers and during the period that we were looking for the money, we kept writing. It’s when you start shooting that it really changes it’s style, you rewrite the dialogue for the actors, you try a line and think ‘oh this isn’t working’ and write something else.
DB: I vaguely remember Scroobius tweeting about sitting in the main room with his legs crossed over and his arms up. How was that ordeal for you?
SP: Because my character was really laidback, I thought, I’ll put my arms up and relax. But that scene is all of us in one big room, so to get the first shot took a good 4 hours. Sitting like that for 4 hours isn’t as relaxing as you’d think. Bashi next to me was cracking up, finding it hilarious.
How did you get involved in the project Scroobius, did you audition?
SP: Yeah I auditioned, I don’t think I’ve said to anyone that the casting director is the brother of my agent, so that was handy. The character was originally just written and described as hipster, so obviously he’s gone ‘Sarah’s [my agent] got a hipster’ and I instantly got called in to try and transform myself for the role of a hipster. It was a long process, 38 years of method, but we got there in the end.
Why so many Alpacas in the film?
EM: Because why not? They’re cute, they sound funny, and they look funny.
ES: You were insistent on the alpacas, you talked about them a lot during the film. What was the name of the film you were going to do? Like Alpaca-megeddon or something like that?
EM: That’s a secret project
SP: Daz, how did you feel, along with me, to be bumped off the film poster for an alpaca?
DB: I was honoured, the alpaca looked amazing.
Ex film teacher and frequent couch potato. I try and see at least one new release a week, but I’ve somehow got to 30 without having seen The Godfather?