SXSW Interview: Director Dominic Bridges for TWO PIGEONS

Having had it's World Premiere at SXSW, Dominic Bridges' TWO PIGEONS has made quite a splash in the genre film industry. The film, which follows the life of a sleazy real estate agent and the man who unsuspectingly lives in his flat, is both a humorous dark comedy and a thriller that embeds a narrative of social commentary. In anticipation for the premiere, Shannon had the chance to speak with director Dominic Bridges about his full length directorial debut and where his inspiration for the film came from. 

Nightmarish Conjurings: Hi Dominic, thanks so much for speaking with us today and congratulations on the World Premiere of TWO PIGEONS at SXSW!  To start things off, for those not familiar with your film TWO PIGEONS, can you tell us a little bit about it? 

Dominic Bridges: The film is a dark social commentary on our obsessions with property. I find it deeply depressing that we fight each other over flats/houses when really a roof above our heads is a basic human need. 

TWO PIGEONS is kind of a revenge/comedy, a real mix bag. As a team we were just really trying to create a different film that crossed over genres.  It's made to be different and allow people to take what they want from it. I work very organically letting ideas flow into the filmmaking process so where we start is very different than where we end. 

NC: Was there anything that inspired the story? 

DB: It was my wife and I's moving out of London. We were bidding on a house in London and it transpired that the local estate agent had us bidding against ourselves to raise the price. It was very stressful and during that time we had a miscarriage. I became enraged by the situation and vented my frustration on the estate agents.  I would pull their signs, verbal abuse, etc (among other things); I wanted revenge. I remember cutting down one of their signs and putting it in the back of the car and driving to their offices. I jumped out of the car and threw the sign through their office door. As my wife and I tried to make a hasty exit, she clipped the curb and pulled the bumper off the car. I remember one of the estate agents running out to help us and I'm sure he helped me put it in the boot before we sped off. During this whole stressful time, my wife and I had never laughed so much at the lunacy of my behavior. I asked myself what was I doing, why would this make me feel better, was it their fault that the way they make money is annoying? The whole thing was ridiculous and embarrassing - trying to be a man and failing miserably.

A few months later, I was sitting in an airport in Hong Kong and I picked up a newspaper (that I obviously couldn't read) and found a picture of a woman dressed in a sheet with long hair being led out of a flat in handcuffs. I kept the newspaper until I could find someone to translate it for me as the picture seemed so odd. The story was of a woman who had lived in a man's flat for 2 years without him knowing she had been living behind his fridge! I thought to myself, if only I'd moved into that real estate agents flat without him knowing that would have been a much better form of revenge!

NC: The performances in the film are absolutely terrific, most notably by Javier Botet, who I really believe steals the show. Did you know that you wanted to have him in the film? What was the casting process like? 

DB: This was my first feature I had made since I was a teenager but this was a new curve ball. The film was written with Javier in mind, I couldn't think of anyone else, and I thought it was interesting that he's usually a zombie or some fantasy creature when he's such a physical actor and I really wanted people to see his face. He's also one of the funniest people I've ever met - a true born entertainer. He has a real life energy about him and I could easily make a great film about his life. I learned so much from him, Mim Shaikh, and all our amazing cast, but the biggest turning point was the rehearsals. Both Mim and Javier kept saying we need to talk about the film and I was like well okay let's do this scene or let's focus on this, or watch some movies or something. For awhile I didn't understand what they meant when they said 'talk about the film'. Finally, it clicked that they wanted to hear the story of why the film existed. I sat them down and told them the whole thing and could visually see the impact it was having on them. From that point, the three of us clicked. I feel truly blessed to have all the talent that we have in our film, but from these guys I learned so much not just about being a director but about who I am as a human being. They taught me to be better at talking and gave me the confidence I needed to share the things that I sometimes think aren't important. 

NC: TWO PIGEONS isn't technically a typical horror film but it definitely falls into that thriller-esque category. Have you always had a love for this genre? 

DB: I grew up in the cinema. I went every Saturday with my Nan to watch the blockbusters. My dad also fitted out a friend's video shop when we were kids and took payments in the form of free videos for life (or so it seemed), so I watched everything. My Aunt Nick would have horror nights at her house when she babysat us and these films had a huge impact on me as well as all the films my dad insisted I watched like COOL HAND LUKE, ROCKY, FIRST BLOOD, etc. I genuinely love films and I consume them, even watching them in fast forward to assess visual rhythms sometimes. I don't think I believe in genre, per say, I think as I make more films they will always cross over and be a mix bag. I want to be taken on an unknown journey, totally immersed, and fight my own way through the tale that's being told. 

NC: The film deals with a lot of themes such as loneliness, anger, narcissism, and revenge. Why was it important for you to touch on those themes? 

DB: Wow, having read that list it kind of sums me up (laughs). I think loneliness will always fascinate me, as a kid (and this sounds sad) my fondest memories where on my own. For example, I remember my dad giving me a wooden palette to play with. We turned it into a raft and for an entire afternoon, in my mind, that raft took me across the Indian Ocean where I fought off sharks, whales, and pirates. 

My worst trait is being an awful communicator. I live inside my mind, preferring my output to speak for me. I've always considered myself the underdog and in life have always warmed to people that are left out or fallen by the wayside. I want everyone's story to be told not just the heroes, but the regular people. Telling their life stories are just as epic in proportion and I think this will always be a thread through whatever I do. 

NC: What would you like audiences to take away from TWO PIGEONS? 

DB: It's already caused a split - some people find it disgusting and others really connect with the story and the characters, as well as understanding the themes. I guess I want people to be entertained but to also question this ruthless pursuit of obtaining property. We are all in this together and a little more compassion towards each other will always make the world a much better place to live. 

NC: Last, but not least, what can fans of yours expect from you next? 

DB: We already have a few projects on the go, but in my head I think I'm a serious director making impactful social commentary such as some of my heroes like director Ken Loach. Enviably my films become what they are during the process so its hard to tell. I will aim to make something different, to tell a story that's not been seen before, but for whatever reason they will always carry an element of humor.  Where this comes from I have no idea (laughs).

For more information on TWO PIGEONS, make sure to visit the official site at www.twopigeons.co.uk and follow on social media on Twitter and Instagram at @twopiegonsmovie.