I imagine this is a long term project that you’ve been trying to get off the ground for a while.
If you say so
You tell me.
I’m attracted to it because I wrote it. I’m interested in Ronnie Laing. I was interested in psychiatry from a very youthful age because of family experiences and then when I went to university to study psychology, I read the books of RD Laing and then when I became a film maker, first a documentary film maker and feature film maker, I always wanted to write about Ronnie Laing, and that’s what happened.
Robert Mullan, second left. Photo: Roger Crow
And why I’m interested, because he was a revolutionary figure. Most people these days, if they have some kind of psycho neurotic or psychotic illness, depressive illness, are given highly toxic medication. Some get better, some don’t. And what he tried to do was utterly different. He just said “Leave people alone. Give them somewhere safe to stay and you never know. They might get better.”
Photo: Paul Stephenson
How much has the film changed from your original vision due to budget restrictions?
The film was always going to be set at Kingsley Hall, which was built, because the production designer, Selina Norris, is brilliant, so with small resources she’s really built fabulous sets.
Budget restrictions meant if we wanted to shoot in New York with Elisabeth Moss we couldn’t do that. We had to get around those kinds of things, but nothing essentially has changed. What changes is that you write something and you have brilliant actors, and I don’t just mean Michael Gambon, David Tennant, Elisabeth Moss and the great Gabriel Byrne, but also these people (Jerome Holder, James Utechin, Tom Richards, Lucie Glynn, Adam Paul Harvey).
As Gabriel Byrne said to me, “We’ve created a whole little community here in two weeks.” You look around and there’s Tom doing his ’Tom thing’, and there’s James doing his Sam thing and there’s Lucie doing her Joan thing. And there’s Paul being Dr Zemmell, and there’s Jerome…
He said to me “Sometimes you have to get back to the hotel and tap yourself… ’I’m out of there now’.” So the vision’s changed in the sense that they brought all the words to life.
With thanks to the cast and crew of Mad to be Normal for help with this blog post.