It seems to me that directors sometimes make movies like Robot Overlords from a mercenary point of view; they’re giving the public “what they want”, second guessing the marketplace, somehow. In my case, I’m coming from the opposite direction: as a kid I loved American popcorn movies like Raiders, The Goonies, ET, Stand By Me — and Overlords is my love letter to those films, made for the ten year-old version of myself who lives on in my heart and brain. It’s not a homage, or a re-imagining, or even an equivalent — I’m just attempting to funnel that escapist, optimistic spirit into a English seaside town. When I was a kid the sci-fi movies, the Amblin style adventures, were never set in Britain, never ever. This film puts that right.
So when you get to see it… I don’t doubt opinions will be divided, there will be lovers and haters (it’s disappointing if they’re not, a bad sign!) — but please know that I meant every last frame of it. I came up against the physical limitations of our budget, occasionally, inevitably, but really that was my only limitation. For whatever reason my producers and financiers supported me all the way – they certainly questioned my decisions, offered alternative opinions, but they never fought me or stopped me – on the contrary, they were really encouraging. So this is the movie I wanted to make. I’m saying it because I wonder if folks will see the giant spaceships and laser beams and think I was faking it, playing the system, when I really wasn’t.
A couple of years ago I was watching Later on TV and Jools Holland was interviewing Jay-Z. He asked him if he had any advice for budding artists out there and he said “find your own voice, speak with your own voice”, and for whatever reason I heard a big, chiming bell, echoing in my head. It’s not like I’m a big Jay-Z fan, either — I loved the New York song he did with Alicia Keys, but that’s about it. It was just a thing I was waiting for, and wanting to hear. Next thing I know I’m co-writing a script, for the first time since my short film days…
Written on the train home, a teeny tiny bit tipsy — 28th August 2014