Staff: Mister Mead, tell us about the project Swing: how and when did it start?
Nick Mead: It started in the late 90’s. I am very inspired by good things coming from bad things. Turning a negative into a positive, the lotus flower things, from the depth of mud and despair and bright flower can shine kind of thing. I thought a guy getting motivated whilst in jail would be a fun thing to do. There was a Swing music revival at the time. I loved the big band sound, though I was inspired by that New Jersey sound, specifically Southside Johnny And the Asbury Dukes, for example, I researched it a bit and found some pretty cool music. So we went more classic I guess.
Staff: How’s the overall situation of independent cinema in the UK?
Nick Mead: I actually live in America. But some of it is OK from what I hear. I would love to do more films in the UK but have historically had a tough time getting anything going there. Swing was financed totally out of America after being rejected across the board in the UK. Even when Alan Parker wanted to produce it. . . I dunno, I can never figure out England. Much as my heart is still in North London I just wish I could earn a living there!
Staff: Do you think Swing will be distributed and translated in other country in the future?
Nick Mead: No idea. I’ve never ever seen a report of sales or accounts. That’s the classic thing I guess. All I did was write and direct it. . . (ha ha ha) We had some fun at some Festivals. Lisa played on the Beach at Cannes, it was a blast of a party. . . we had another event at a Vineyard in Northern California, it was great, my kids were running around amongst the vines and the film was projected outside on a massive screen. It was great. Then we celebrated back at the hotel, I remember the police being called and there was nearly a diplomatic incident but that’s another story. It opened the Taos film festival and that’s great. Taos is beautiful, really nice. It was a blast. I actually got hugged by two Native American Indian brothers, Taos is half on an Indian Reservation, they had tears in their eyes and told me that our film had summed up their relationship with their father, which was actually based on my relationship with my own father, so that was rather nice. Just shows the power of film where family is concerned.
Staff: Was The soundtrack CD of Swing planned from the beginning, or has it been to pick an occasion when the possibility has become concrete to involve Lisa Stansfield in the project?
Nick Mead: When Lisa got involved it kicked it all into gear. I first saw her at Wembley and she was on this Giant screen, amazing. So powerful. To have a singer with such range and power and professionalism who could also act!!! We could basically choose any songs we wanted. There were endless possibilities and no limitations, she could handle anything at all...
Staff: How was it to direct Lisa as an actress?
Nick Mead: It was as if she’d acted all her life. It was easy, comfortable, exciting, yes, exciting. Totally prepared, full of energy and ideas and a really laugh, we had a lot of fun. In fact we got on so well that we decided to “stage” a mock argument one day in front of the crew. I called her a useless actress and she called me a rubbish director and then we fell about laughing, we were not good at NOT laughing. She was very very prepared, in fact after she accepted the part she spent a load of time in Liverpool researching what her character was like. One night we went out when we were in Liverpool on Location and went to a famous pub called the Philarmonic, there was a karaoke night so Lisa got me up to sing one of her songs, then came and stood next to me directing me as I did it. The crowd couldn’t believe it, me singing probably the worst rendition of All Around The World ever with the real singer standing next to me egging me on. . . it was hilarious.
Staff: In the last years Lisa has made different television and cinema apparitions: do you think Swing has been a necessary step for her or you believes that sooner or later Lisa would have debut with an important role anyway?
Nick Mead: Definitely, no doubt, she would have fallen into it one way or another. Am proud to say that we were there first.
Staff: How was Swing accepted in the UK? Unfortunately, we discovered it very late in Italy.
Nick Mead: It was released theatrically. Did ok. The soundtrack did really well there and in the USA. A song was in fact selected as the theme tune to the Spanish Lottery and it was one of the few original songs which I actually co wrote. My third of one song was released in Spain and then became a Spanish Hit. I could do a solo tour in Spain and play one third of one song. It would be the shortest concert ever, about a minute! It was called Two Years Too Blue.
Staff: Overall, after more than ten years, what’s your judgment about Swing?
Nick Mead: I still like it. I wish we’d had more time. I think it was bad luck that it came on the tails of The Full Monty. We’d never heard of that film when we did the deal on Swing. It was compared quite a bit. I wanted an Ostrich but all we could afford was penguins.
Staff: Are there funny scenes that you remember and that were cut in the final version of the film?
Nick Mead: Not really. . . we used pretty much everything. It was low budget, no time to waste or scenes to waste.
Staff: After the role in Swing, do you think Lisa Stansfiled matured in the other roles she played?
Nick Mead: I’ve not really seen much. I’ve been constantly travelling pretty much since then. I’ve worked with her on other projects since. Has she matured? not sure, she’s very childlike as I am. . . sees the beauty in the little things. . . always very grateful, a really good good person. Generous, caring, doesn’t suffer fools, brilliant sense of humour. I mean brilliant snese of humor, I have not laughed so much EVER. I’m trying to think of something bad to balance it out but I can’t. . .
Staff: How did the idea of the short film Dean Street Shuffle start?
Nick Mead: We were making a film on The Colony, a bohemian artists hideaway in London, and basically we’d get drunk and fall out into the streets of Soho with our camera gear and then start filming. That’s why we credit all of us as the makers of the film and credit the camerawork by “anyone who had the camera” the only way we can work out who shot what is by seeing who’s actually in each shot.
Staff: Why did you choose the black and white in this movie, in which are also appreciated the soundtrack and the London skyline?
Nick Mead: Because I prefer black and white. It gives things a removed sense of reality, Like a reportage assignment for a still photographer. I love it. We only cut it together as a support for The Colony at film festivals and then this bloke we know, Dutch, stuck it on the internet and then there were all these compliments and people kind of appreciating it. Probably the best film I ever made just wish I could remember making it.
Staff: Do you and Lisa really go to French House, The Colony and Gerry 's, or is it an expedient for the movie?
Nick Mead: Yes, it was all reality based. Though The Colony has sadly closed down.
Staff: Do you have plan to work with Lisa again in the future?
Nick Mead: Yes, I hope so. I would be happy to work with her forever and not have to work with anyone else. BECAUSE working with her is not work at all, it’s all play and fun and excitement yet at the same time very professional and inspiring. I nearly died two years ago and was very touched that she would have sung at my funeral. In fact I was rather upset that I didn’t die because it would have been a great funeral. Anyway, I’m getting married later this year on Hampstead Heath which is near where she lives so maybe she can sing at my wedding instead...
Staff: Does Lisa have a profit-sharing in your production house?
Nick Mead: We are involved in a number of projects together. They are in the editing phase of them so we’ll see how they turn out.
Thanks to mister Mead for his collaboration!
Interview by: Alex Bettucchi, Amedeo Pesole & Cristina Solenni - april 2010