Chris Patmore talks to Tarquin Pack producer Kick-Ass now out on Blu Ray and DVD.
Kick-Ass was your first film as a producer. You’ve worked with Matthew Vaughn on his other movies in different capacities, so was that a big help?
Without a doubt. It was nerve-wracking anyway, but it would have been deeply so if it was someone I hadn’t worked with before, and assuming that level of responsibility it was great to be working with someone I know and trust, and he knows and trusts me so it makes life a hell of a lot easier.
The film was actually made outside of the studio system, you didn’t have studio backing to start with, is that correct?
That is absolutely correct. They all said it was shit.
They didn’t quite say it was shit, but they all passed a bit more politely than that. We could have made a version of the film with the studios, but it wouldn’t have been a version of the film we wanted to make. They said, you need to make Hit Girl 18 years old; it needs to have less violence. So we said, “You mean it needs to be like every other film”. They were absolutely insistent that the problem they had was people wouldn’t go and see a movie with a 12-year-old girl as the hero. They didn’t care about whether she swore or killed people, because it’s not a morality thing. The decisions they make are only ever driven by economics. They were doggedly determined that the 18 – 34 year-olds were; A) the only people who would go and see the movie, and B) wouldn’t see a movie with a 12-year-old girl.
And how wrong they were.
It was one of those things where I was a 36-year-old male, so only two years outside their key demographic, and I thought 12-year-old girls with knives sounded great.
She was absolutely the best thing in the whole film. She had the best lines, the best action. And have they not seen Leon?
[Laughs] Exactly. Did they not see Taxi Driver? It is slightly disturbing that men of our age actually find those characters sort of sexy, and exciting figures to watch on screen. Exactly. The main thing is some of it is fun and there is something iconoclastic about having a 12-year-old girl saying and doing things that people find… One of the things I find odd is that there is an immorality around it. I couldn’t give a monkey’s about people swearing or not, but as far as I am aware, there is no appropriate age for killing people, and that was one of the big debates. I’m not particularly into 25-year-olds stabbing people, let alone 12-year-olds. Does age really matter in this debate?
It is a comic book movie, and the violence is comic book violence.
I think so. It’s a heightened thing. If you come out of that thinking it’s real there probably wasn’t much hope for you anyway.
Or you live on a South London estate where it is a common occurrence?
In a way, that is one of the things I find odd in that actually there is a commentary on that kind of thing. That’s what motivates Dave to go down that road, was wanting that kind of shit to stop: the Kick-Ass morality debate. But when you look at the cartoons that kids watch on TV, even back to the earliest day of the classic Warner Bros with Roadrunner or Tweety, they are incredibly violent, yet kids will watch them all day without turning into psychopaths. Think of the hundreds of ways Itchy and Scratchy have met their bitter end. The weird thing is, when I was growing up, my mother never let me watch Tom and Jerry because she thought it was too violent. There you are – and look how I repaid her [laughter].
By becoming a successful film producer making hit movies. Kick-Ass and The Incredibles are two of the best superhero movies that have ever been made, because both films respect the superhero genre, but make fun of it as well. I think The Incredibles is very close to being a perfect film. It’s funny you should mention The Incredibles because it is one of my and Matthew’s favourite movies, and we both think it is so well crafted. I actually watched it the other day with my daughter, and she also really enjoyed it, which is great.
But she hasn’t seen Kick-Ass yet?
I haven’t yet watched Kick-Ass with her. I think four is a little young, but she did meet Chloe Moretz when she came on set, and saw her in the purple wig and all of it, so she does have a very firm grasp of who Hit Girl is, and even has a T-shirt with Hit Girl on it, which is her favourite T-shirt to wear.
But not the one with the slogan on? She’s not going to nursery with a T-shirt saying ‘OK you cunts, let’s see what you can do’?
Kick-Ass 2 is going ahead now?
Obviously we are tied up on the X-Men movie at the moment. On Kick-Ass we had this peculiar journey where we finished the script before they the comic. I think this time we’ll do it the other way round. Hopefully Mark [Millar] will finish the comic, then we’ll start looking at a script and develop it in a more traditional way. It’ll never be a more traditional film. By dint of the fact that we are rather busy, he can get on and do his thing, and once X-Men is finished we can start looking at Kick-Ass 2: Balls to the Wall, which has got to be one of the great titles.
You don’t think it’s going to come a cropper like Kevin Smith’s film, which had to change its name from A Couple of Dicks to Cop Out?
Hopefully not. We’ll see.
Is Kick-Ass 2 going to be done independently again, or are the studios more open to it now that it’s proven itself a viable concern?
It’s too early to say. If we wanted to make it with a studio, we could, but it did well enough as a movie for them to want to back it fully. It just becomes a question of whether we want to go down that route, It did well enough as an independent movie, so it is just a question of how we go around it.
Was it difficult getting the funding to make the first one without studio backing?
Thankfully not. Matthew’s got an amazing record as a producer, and as an independent producer. What it really meant was we had to work out what was the lowest price we could make the film for. If we’d made it for the studios it would have probably cost double the amount of money, just because the way they approach everything. Raising that budget was relatively easy. It wasn’t a walk in the park, or a total doddle, but when you put together the economics that we put together, people said, ‘OK, that all makes sense’.
Kick-Ass DVD is released on 6th September.