Review Fix chats with “November 1st” director Charlie Manton, who discusses the film and what makes it an important one.
Review Fix: Why is the topic of this film important today?
Charlie Manton: The death penalty is still legal in 29 states. Families are still going through this horrible ordeal. But I feel and hope that this film is also important today as it shows the damage that can be done when people seek revenge.
Review Fix: What inspired this film?
Manton: I’m fascinated by true crime stories and you’ll always find me watching documentaries or reading articles on the subject. I got particularly fascinated by the death penalty and the families who are affected by this horrible ordeal. I delved deep into researching and speaking to people who had been through or were going through the painful and very slow system. And from listening to some of these stories and seeing the pain caused made me adamant on making a film about the subject.
Review Fix: Why was ‘November 1st’ a perfect title for this short?
Manton: The execution is what Bonnie has been waiting for for over 28 years. And November 1st is the date she’s pinning all her hopes on, to finally get the justice and revenge she’s been yearning. So I feel that it was fitting and also an intriguing title.
Review Fix: How difficult was this film to put together?
Manton: Very difficult but then so is every film I suppose. This one did feel like a huge challenge and prepping it was like completing a very complex puzzle. The obvious hurdle was making a US road trip movie in the UK. We scouted a huge amount of locations up and down the UK and our production designer Theo Boswell was tasked with the daunting task of making these locations look as genuinely American as possible. And he beyond pulled it off and then some.
We received quite a bit of scepticism about wether we’d be able to pull it off. But we really had the best crew possible lead by the amazing Teodora Shaleva (Producer) who managed to, with her team, to make it all happen.
Review Fix: Tell me about the cast.
Manton: We were lucky to get a stellar cast on board which comprised of Lindsay Duncan, Sophia Myles, Clint Dyer and Thom Ashley. We worked with the brilliant casting director Jessie Frost. Lindsay was one of the first names we discussed. We were aware that it was a long shot for a student film but nonetheless we sent the script her way and thankfully she responded to the material. Once she came on board it felt like the film stepped up another level.
I’d seen Sophia Myles in several things and am a big fan of her work. She has such an incredible on screen prescience and I’m so proud of her work in this film.
Review Fix: What was it like, working with the actress Lindsay Duncan, CBE?
I was in awe. Being on set with such actors was like being at a masterclass every day. She has such incredible craft and is wholly dedicated to what she does. It’s hugely inspiring to be around. And she is the coolest and most relaxed person on set too. She’s genuinely one of the most kind hearted and giving people you could dream of meeting. I’m so grateful for the risk she took on doing the film and also for being so fearless with her portrayal of Bonnie and for trusting me.
She truly delivers an Oscar winning performance in this. There were countless moments on set when I’d be behind my monitor and the hair on the back of my neck would stand up.
I really hope to have the chance to work with her again soon.
Review Fix: What was the feeling like on set?
Manton: It was a very relaxed set. I like it that way and to have fun, as I feel people do their best work when they’re relaxed and can contribute without feeling pressure etc.
Some days were obviously tougher than others. But on those days the crew pulled together to get the job done.
Review Fix: How have the audiences been reacting to November 1st?
Manton: It’s been incredible travelling around with the film and seeing people’s responses. It feels like it really delivers a punch thanks to Lindsay and Sophia’s flawless and blistering performances.
The film was released online recently (unfortunately no longer online…) and it was really interesting seeing all the comments. There were threads of people debating on the subject and people getting incredibly invested with their arguments. It’s hugely satisfying for me to see the film spark those important conversations.
I’m also really grateful for everyone who has watched the film as I feel half the task of filmmaking at this early stage of ones career is then getting the film out there. And we’re so lucky and thankful that the amazing distributor Salaud Morisset, who are pushing the film and getting it the biggest audience possible.
Review Fix: What films have inspired it the most?
Manton: I think the year I was figuring out what to do next was the year ‘Lady Bird’ and ‘Three Billboards’ came out. Those films were big inspirations I feel. They had such incredible characters and the writing was impeccable. And I feel that this is the first film I’ve done where I approached writing in a slightly different way. Mainly by just trying to write the best characters I possibly could. And I felt when those characters were formed they started writing the story themselves.
Review Fix: Congratulations on making it on the shortlist, how does it feel?
Manton: It feels great. Really grateful that it got that recognition, especially that it doesn’t really feel like a British film.
Review Fix: What have you learned about yourself through this entire process?
Manton: How great it feels when you write a script that you believe in. I’m always chasing that now. Chasing the best story and characters possible. I’ve learnt how much I love making films and I’m at my happiest when I’m behind a camera directing.
Review Fix: What’s next?
Manton: Hopefully my debut feature. That’s what I’m slogging away at now at least. I’d love to do some TV work as well. But it’s tough to get those gigs and feel that my youngish age possibly goes against me at times. I possibly say and think that just to make me feel better…