Peter McDonald The Stag Interview
Peter McDonald The Stag Interview
What was the hardest thing to get right overall?

Peter McDonald

From the very first moment we sat down to write the film, we both had the exact same ambition that we wanted it to be a comedy with heart. I know that's a very overused word, I don't really like it, but the way I would say it is a comedy where we don't sell you short on your investment in the characters for the sake of the comedy.

And trying to do that and balance that as a comedy and keep moving forward in an hour and a half is the trickiest part of the process because you have to kill some of your babies in the edit room, and little bits of performance that you get attached to as you're doing it. As you're editing it, you have to let them go. But it's also the best learning part of the process for any filmmaker, it feels to me. You learn what is absolutely necessary for the story to keep it that tight. I mean if you were making a different type of film-making you'd go over two hours but with a film like this it kind of has to stay in the 90 minutes.
Did you cut anything out that you were particularly sorry to see go?

Peter McDonald

We always knew it was a little bit too long and there were a couple of lines that didn't make it and a couple of little visual things, one of them was my favourite that went. We did test the film a couple of times, and it's funny, you take something out of a film and you're convinced it's never going to go back in and then just before you test it you go, 'Well let's just put it in, to see if we're right,' and then … It was the moment where they get on the schoolbus. We cut that out of the film, and we were convinced we didn't need to have it and we put it into the first test and the audience loved it. So myself and John were just sitting in the screen room looking at each other going, 'What do we know?'
How did you come to cast Andrew and Hugh?

Peter McDonald

I'd known both of them for years. I'd worked with Andrew on stage and TV a couple of times, and Hugh I'd worked with on stage and TV a good few times and he also did a sketch show that myself and John did called Your Bad Self. From the beginning we kind of knew that Hugh would be perfect for Fionnan. And in a way he has the hardest role of the film because he's kind of like the mensch - he's got some of the funniest lines in the film but you kind of have the narrative force you to identify and follow the emotional narrative of the Davin character.

When it came to Davin as we were writing it we didn't know who we had in mind initially. But it kind of became clear to us that it would be Andrew. The thing about Andrew Scott is, he's such a brilliant actor, and he's a star as well, you know he has that quality. But in person, he's so funny and so witty, and I have seen him do parts like that before but I hadn't really seen him do a part where he really got to spread his wings in that way. Once his name popped into our minds it would have been very hard to remove it and we were just very lucky that he said yes.
What's your next project?

Peter McDonald

At the moment I have a series called Moone Boy on Sky, its second series. We just shot the last series at the end of last year, so I don't know when the next series is coming out but that's in the can. And I'm in the West End at the moment doing a play called The Weir.
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Content updated: 25/06/2017 09:49

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