An interview with Chris Mofardin, Managing Director of MYPC.
The first show for the company was SIRENS, a play that incorporated live music and video into the action on stage and told the story of “the night you find out your ex-boyfriend is seeing someone else”. This was actually based on the night Stephanie found out her ex-boyfriend was seeing someone else. So Stephanie played – Stephanie. It was convenient.
The show was promoted with a three-minute ‘mockumentary’, filmed with the team who had shot the video.
Stephanie begins the interview asking Chris about filming in the beautiful, multi-million pound home donated by friends.
SY: One of the producer’s jobs is to tend the cameraman as he sits in his underwear on the lid of the toilet, looking at the dog bite he’s just incurred on her behalf and for the sake of the show. How did you feel at that moment?
CM: I felt alive. Every fibre of my being was throbbing with the anticipation of a law suit that would sink the company before it had begun so I quickly told him how rich the dog’s owners were. Really, really rich and that one was a film maker who could probably do with a cameraman, especially one who had been crippled. By his dog.
SY: This is very revealing.
CM: We couldn’t find any first aid stuff in their house. It was like they never suffered injuries. Maybe if you’re really wealthy you don’t. You get impermeable skin once you crack £100,000 at the bank.
SY: What did you actually say to the cameraman on the toilet?
CM: Ah – something like ‘There, there, it’s barely a scratch’ as I gagged involuntarily at the huge gouge marks in his thigh. His thigh! Actually I think I said ‘Shit, are you all right?’ and had to control this great desire to laugh because it was so absurd and horrific. Meanwhile you guys just kept filming! I was trying to calm down the incredibly pale cameraman and you were arguing about whether the white bedroom was too white. I was thinking “Is my cameraman’s face too white? What if he dies? What if he passes out? Will they keep filming? Will I have to hold the camera? How many roles am I supposed to have in this bloody company?”
SY: I’d like you to tell me about your technique with actors.
CM: The first thing you’ve got to remember is there are fricking thousands of them so they’re not as special as they think they are. No, I don’t mean that. Some of my best friends are actors. But if they call you darling and hug you a lot you’re not in with a chance. They do this to everyone.
And don’t let them do a thing before they’ve signed the contract. If they hold out on the contract, hold out on the props.
CM: Well, if you’re an actor who thinks he can’t act drunk without being drunk and needs a REAL beer on stage - there’s the prop. You have leverage. The actor who thinks this said to me ‘Could you get me a beer for a prop?’ and I said ‘Can you get me that freaking contract I’ve been asking for for the past two weeks?’
He laughed, I didn’t.
He said “You’re serious.” I smiled.
He had three minutes to curtain.
He gave me the contract. I got him the beer.
SY: What was your experience of working with the musicians formerly known as The Crane Brothers (now Running Club)?
CM: It was all fine up until the moment they decided to change their name without consulting me. I wouldn’t have minded if I hadn’t had 400 flyers printed with “The Crane Brothers” but they did apologise and promise to speak to me first if they ever made such a heady move again. I have to be grateful, however, as I had the expression “bell end” explained to me by one of them, virtually an adolescent, at a cast party. That was a highlight. Especially when I couldn’t seem to absorb what his explanation meant which necessitated him repeating the word ‘cock’ louder and louder as I leaned in gazing, puzzled, at him. And finally I said ‘Cock??’ in some bizarre, posh accent about two inches from his face while he stared at me, disbelieving that I could have reached my age without ever having heard the word before. In front of the entire cast and crew. Because that was the moment everyone chose to go silent and listen.
SY: You were wearing your lovely silver top and had a glass of champagne, poised elegantly.
CM: It did inspire my first choice of name for the company which was Posh Cock Productions –
SY: Poche Coque.
CM: Exactly. Which you crushed mercilessly -
SY: You know why we couldn’t. Answering the phones. ‘Posh Cock, please hold.’
CM: - choosing to name it after yourself instead.
SY: It’s true. It is MY Production Company.
CM No, it’s MY production company.
SY: Any other stories about actors?
CM: I can’t keep dissing them. I love actors, especially the incredibly talented ones we got to work with on the filming.
SY: I have a picture of one of them laughing at something I've said.
CM: That's good acting.
|Dave the Runner, Dave Anderson (director) and Jeff Mash (actor) enjoying SY's hi-jinx during filming.|
SY: I want to hear about your faultless protocol on set.
CM: God. If we’d had a gag reel for the viral it would have only lasted 45 seconds but it would have been all me, not able to stop laughing while the actor playing John, The Ex-boyfriend, was being filmed. It was so embarrassing.
SY: I was concentrating on ach-ting so had no idea why you were hysterical.
CM: The scene called for him to be facing away from the camera, looking out a window. He had his coat on and a lighter in one hand. He’s gazing out, he puts a cigarette in his mouth, flicks his lighter but a voice off camera calls his name and he turns around. The cigarette never gets lit. Cut.
In one take he was gazing out, he flicked the lighter, his name was called and as he turned around to respond, the cigarette skated over the top of the flame and actually lit. It lit. And the camera’s rolling. No one notices. The actor subtly plucks the cigarette out of his mouth, in character, and, heroically, stubs it out on his hands. He’s obviously reached the £100,000 mark at the bank having developed the impermeable skin.
I was the only one who noticed and burst out laughing. That killed the take, I explained what had happened. Everyone smiled politely but take after take I burst out laughing at the same point. It wouldn’t have been such a big deal, I could have left, but my 14th role of the day was holding the big shiny silver thing -
SY: The collapsible light reflector.
CM: - yeah, under the actor’s face, so I couldn’t move. It gave me a whole new respect for performers who can say their lines without corpsing. Oh my god. I’m the Ricky Gervais of our partnership.
SY; Who am I then? Stephen Merchant?
CM: You’ve got the glasses.
SY: But I’m short.
Cm: Or that editor guy they harass. You could be him. Your choice.
SY: I’ll be Stephen. I think he’s nice. I saw him once in Hugo’s Café in Queen’s Park. He was having lunch with a very pleasant-faced woman.
Cm: Stalk much?
SY: Tell me about filming, working with the director -
CM: The director is called Dave Anderson, young and award-winning already. However, we think he was very lucky to work with us because on our first night-shoot he found a fifty pound note on the road! In my mind, that’s pretty much like us giving him the money because if he hadn’t been with us filming for two days, non-stop, 48 hours, he wouldn’t have found it. Strangely, he didn’t thank me.
|Dave Anderson directing actor Mark Noble|
SY: Ten takes isn’t that many. And in his defence, nearly every take we used was the last one we got.
CM: Well that's true. He is also very calm, all the time, which makes him very good with actors and tense producers. He just puts his hands on your shoulders and says’ Talk to me.’ And even though you want to say ‘You’re two weeks late with the fricking film’! You say ‘Aaaaaahhhh…’
SY: You sat in the editing booth with him.
CM: For hours and hours. Dave had an endless patience and, as he only eats once every four days, he didn’t seem to mind never moving and he doesn’t drink either or go to the loo. In fact I’m not sure he’s human. But he does make a pretty film.
SY: There is a scene where the character I played – well, me - cycles madly across London to meet someone arriving on an incoming train and we filmed at night.
CM: Yeah. It would have been hilarious if I wasn’t so terrified. I was driving in peak hour traffic in the middle of London, round Trafalgar Square with Dave hanging out of the Polo window, filming you on a bicycle. You were going as fast as you always cycle and since that includes zipping alongside all the cars going slowly, we kept losing you. And then we’d find you and shout ‘Slow down!’ and you’d nod and cycle off again. I spent the whole time swearing. It’s good we had no sound because you would have heard ‘Fuck fuck,she’s gone again, where is she? Wouldn’t it be horrible if we ran her over? Fuck!’
Then you and Dave disappeared into Waterloo Station to film the closing scene. ‘Five minutes tops’ says Lying-Liar-Pants-on-Fire Anderson as I’m parked illegally in a taxi lane and, god, it must have been 45 minutes. You two finally reappeared, legging it out of there like you had all the security guards after you.
SY: We had one. He’d said ‘Are you going to use that film professionally?’ I pulled myself up to my full 5’3” and said ‘Do I LOOK like an amate-uh??’ Dave was very charming and then we ran.
CM: Meanwhile I was so bored. I had nothing to do. I had nothing in the car. I had no radio, no book. I hated you two having a grand time filming, maybe being chased, adding to the thrill, while I was hoping I wouldn’t get the crap beat out of me by a bunch of irate taxi drivers wondering why I wouldn’t move. I stood there trying to look as though the car had a flat tire. Which isn’t easy to do when you don’t have a flat tire. I started talking out loud to myself the way you do when you’re alone in the house. Narrating your actions. In a sing-songy voice. ‘I’m still parked here ♫ and I’m so bored ♪ I could eat my own brains♫ and that cabbie is looking at me and wondering what’s going on and so am I and Dave and Steph are the artistes ♪ and I get left behind because ♫ I’m just the producer, just the car-driving, camera-man-tending, actor-haranguing, writer-soothing, snack-buying, beer-withholding producer.’
SY: So it’s been a pleasure for you, so far? Working with me?
CM: Was that a question?
CM: Nothing but a pleasure. Making Sirens was the most fun I’ve ever had allegedly working.
SY: Do you have a favourite phrase as a producer?
CM: “It’s okay. We’re insured. Get back to rehearsal.”
(click to see the edited viral, featuring the hilarity and good looks of Fred Perry, Mark Noble and The Band Formerly Known as The Cranes):