Remember the Lying Toad? (See ‘Spleen’) I’ve worked with a lot of producers, a few are brilliant (Jeremy Thomas and Marc Samuelson are two of the hardest working, most intelligent people I’ve ever met) but many are deluded cheats who lie their way into getting something for nothing from writers. During the Cannes Film Festival (where they post cocaine to themselves in greetings cards to get them through – authorities please note) they work the tables of the Hotel Du Cap like expensive whores, leaving behind a trail of dinner and drinks bills before vanishing into the night.
This week a good friend of mine who knows the Lying Toad attended a movie premiere and the party afterwards. During the event, who should shuffle up, his former good looks now dissipated to the level of a badly embalmed corpse, but the aforementioned LT, who has just finished producing a movie.
As he hasn’t seen my friend for a while, you’d think he’d ask after his health and happiness rather than opening the conversation with ‘Hello mate, are you carrying?’ My friend was naive enough to look around and ask ‘Carrying what?’ Once the LT realised there were no drugs to be had he listened distractedly to the conversation before going ‘Yeah, yeah, see you around.’ and walking off. There’s a much worse part to this story involving the daughter of a famous film star that I’ll leave out in deference to the country’s hopelessly outmoded libel laws.
Cocaine use is endemic within the British film industry. The simplest proof would be to look in the wallets of everyone at the Soho House, a club which has made huge efforts to curb drug use in its establishment – but it’s still there and rampant. Last week I saw a producer shovelling it from his fingernail on the club’s staircase. British film is in a terrible state and needs all the help it can get. What it doesn’t need is another generation of drug-addled juveniles – but that’s what it will have because the worst culprits have encouraged their offspring to enter the industry.
So while France makes ‘MicMacs’ and ‘Mesrine’ and Germany makes ‘Baader-Mienhof’ and Italy makes ‘Baaria’ we turn out ’44 Inch Chest’, an outdated bit of machismo featuring Ray Winstone duffing up his wife’s lover in a bedroom.
Nobody’s saying the footballer lifestyle of producers is directly affecting the quality of our output but – well, do the math.