Adjoa Andoh from Netflix’s ‘Bridgerton’ stars in a gripping thriller about a psychiatrist in a secret government facility, who interviews a man convinced Tony Blair is still the Prime Minister. The film appeared in this year’s Soho London Independent Film Festival.
Read our interview below with Bizzy Thompson, the film’s director.
Presh: How did the concept of “The Name of the Prime Minister” come about?
Bizzy: About 11 years ago, I was driving back home with my mum when I heard this ‘quick reaction’ BBC Radio 4 afternoon play, it was this high-concept political thriller which was interesting and had a dry wit. I immediately imagined what it would look like – long corridors, mysterious interview rooms – and thought it would make a neat short film.
It took a number of years to track down the writer Martin Jameson, eventually, I found him on Twitter and he agreed we could adapt it for the screen. I started to get really excited about the idea after visiting my ex-girlfriends home where there was this old secret military base with double perimeter fences on her dad’s farm, it was surrounded by miles of fields and I thought it would be perfect for the opening sequence. And the final piece of the puzzle was convincing advertising legend and executive producer of ‘Moon’ Trevor Beattie, whose advertising company ‘BMB’ I worked in as their in-house director, to put some funding in. He saw the early promise and true to his word gave us a big help to finance it.
P: How was it like working with Adjoa Andoh and how did she get involved with the film?
B: Adjoa is a fantastic actress, she’s been in some huge films and tv shows like Netflix’s ‘Bridgerton’ and often appears in Royal Shakespeare Company productions, so it was an honour to have her on this.
You find with top actors like Adjoa that they really do their homework on the character.
After an initial chat through about what we thought the character was like, there wasn’t much I could add when I was directing her – most of her performances we just did one take, she just nailed it every time.
Adjoa told me when she was directed by Clint Eastwood in Invictus, he would just do three takes for each shot, and that was it. I tried to do the same and she knew we weren’t going to waste time and energy doing take after take so she gave it her all the first time round.
It was quite easy to get her on board as she knew the writer, liked the script and had a window in her diary. A great piece of advice I had from the director of Peaky Blinders, Otto Bathurst, was that “good actors simply enjoy acting, they’ll be interested in helping out on projects for a token fee if you ask them and they like the idea and script.”
P: What are your thoughts on the current state of Sci-Fi and what has influenced your style of filmmaking?
B: Sci-Fi is really enjoying a golden age right now – there have been terrific sci-fi films and series coming out in the last five years – Dune, Bladerunner 2049, Arrival, Free Guy, Foundation.
I think ‘The Name of the Prime Minister’ could be described as a cross between Black Mirror and Stranger Things, it’s not entirely implausible and the slickness you see in shows like Black Mirror was a big influence. The sound design and mix was actually done at the Technicolor London post-facility, whilst I was there they were very secretive about the fact Black Mirror episodes were being worked in the room next door.
P: The short film seems to set up for something more, a web series perhaps? What’s the plan for The Name of the Prime Minister?
B: Yes it would be nice to make something a bit bigger – there is certainly a longer script and lots of interesting ideas. Almost everyone who sees the short immediately asks for the next episode, so watch this space.