Fizz & Ginger Films is Tori Hart and Matthew Butler, two North Londoners with an amazing work ethic and desire to produce memorable British films. Mark Kebble meets them to talk about marketing, filming in Crouch End and an eclectic slate

It seems like an age ago that you were filming Two Down, your thriller filmed in and around Crouch End…

Tori: We finished filming a year ago yesterday.

Matthew: That’s quite a quick turn around for a film anyway, to go from finishing, to post-production to have a sales company trying to sell it.

Tori: We probably started working on a script 8-9 months previous to that.

Matthew: Tori is an actress as well, when she was doing a pirate pilot I was sitting in various cafés in Cambridgeshire going ‘I have got an idea about a hitman’. I trained as an actor as well, but left all that behind, and I was actually understudying on a West End show and I thought it was the perfect opportunity to be writing. So I just typed away for three months, gave to Tori and she would go that’s rubbish, that’s rubbish…

What kind of experience was it like shooting?

Tori: It was a lot of fun actually. What we try and make sure when we make films, everyone on there is working really long hours for very little money, and the reason they are doing it is because they love it and. So I think it was a lot of fun. It was tiring, we had a lot to get in in the space of 12 days.

Matthew: Yes, 22 locations…

Tori: It was really fast paced. I think one day we shot 14 pages in one day, which was insane.

Matthew: A lot of the film is based in this warehouse flat, which is just in Turnpike Lane. The hitman turns up for what he thinks is a safe house, ends up taking this young woman hostage and then the local takeaway delivery guy as well. He’s been injured in the film and they have to work out who and how, with lots of flashbacks, so a lot of it is based around those three people. For one of the weeks we spent the entire time in this one location, so normally doing 14 pages in one day is…

Tori: Completely impossible! From the last film we did, Miss In Her Teens, Matt made the decision acting in the lead role and directing at the same time, on a very low budget when you are really pushed for time, was incredibly stressful for you. And Two Down for me acting in it and producing it was incredibly stressful too, something has to give. I have an amazing production team behind me who completely took over that role during the shoot.

Matthew: We have lived in Crouch End for six years and we needed a café so we wrote around place we’d be able to get. Everything is in about a ten minute radius from here, so that made things easier.

Tori: Everybody was amazing, the whole community.

Fizz & Ginger Films: Made in London

Conleth Hill as Harry Montague in Two Down

Were you surprised by the support?

Matthew: We were hoping for it. All the pubs opening up at 4am for us, Harringay Arms and Maynard, and everyone was being really nice. We were taking up pavement space with huge lights, you tell people about and they want to come to the screening! We actually want to do free screenings at the Arthouse in New Year and let people watch it there.

What would you say the ethos behind Fizz & Ginger Films is?

Tori: [Laughs] It’s eclectic! We want to make interesting British independent, exciting, new films…

Matthew: The idea is to make good films that in 20 years time people are still watching, but also to make them commercial. I know people try that a lot, but there are not many British films that are really well made, they just don’t make money.

Tori: There must be an in between. Also to work with emerging talent and established talent.

Matthew: We will always try to bring in the likes of Conleth Hill or Ian McKellen to do a small part, which helps the film do its thing, and then have lots of younger actors who are brilliant.

Tori: Genre wise, no!

Matthew: We started off doing comedy, but now it’s increasingly getting darker. We are writing at the moment our quantum physics thriller Infinitum. That’s one we started a while ago, we just happened to mention that in meetings with sales company and quite big actors, who say ‘that’s interesting, what is that? Can I see it?’ Give us a minute…

Tori: It’s a subject that’s becoming hot at the moment. It’s amazing the cycles things go through. Aliens, vampires, zombies…

Matthew: Now intellectual quantum physics! Everybody is excited about it.

Tori: Then we have got an old school horror, The Isle…

Matthew: It’s sort of Greek myths thinly veiled about depression in the 1800s…

Fizz & Ginger Films: Made in London

The team on set, photo by Laura Radford

Then you have got The Curse of the Buxom Strumpet…

Tori: That’s completely different! That’s set late 1700s and it’s based on syphilis, in its most extreme form and then a bit more. It affects the brain and this plague runs riot through this port town, and our main characters have to battle their way across town to jump aboard the Buxom Strumpet, which is a ship and sail away to safety.

Matthew: That’s the one with Ian McKellen and Gillian Anderson. We are casting at the moment. It’s a puzzle these things, you get a little bit here and a little bit there. It’s 60% financed…

Tori: This is pencilled for April/May next year, but with things in development you never know if one might go sooner and that’s the one you’ve got to go with. If you get the cast attached and money in, that’s the one that goes.

How tough is it to succeed in the industry?

M: It’s really hard, but we are not down mines. We don’t have days off, we don’t have weekends, but we have to work unbelievably hard and sacrifice a lot, and we have been working for five years almost non-stop to get to the point where things are getting exciting now.

T: It takes such a long time – two years and Two Down is only just being sold, so it is playing the long game.

M: It’s really hard work – but not hard as in I don’t want to do this…

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