From directors Ben and Chris Blaine, comes the bizarre and beautiful f***ed up Fairytale – Nina Forever. The hit film will make it’s limited theatrical and VOD debut this Friday, February 12th. It stars Fiona O’Shaughnessy, Abigail Hardingham, Cian Barry, Elizabeth Elvin and David Troughton.
[Exclusive] I had the chance to interview directors Ben and Chris Blaine, who’s latest film Nina Forever is garnering a ton of critical acclaim (read my review HERE). We explored the dark themes and much more behind the grim romantic/drama/comedy/horror flick with one of the most unique and daring concepts to ever grace a film.
The Blaine brothers also teased two upcoming films they’ll be working on next, including a directorial job on a heist film written by Irvine Welsh (Trainspotting). So make sure you check out their thoughts on both of those very exciting projects.
Check out our full conversation below:
Holly wants to save Rob, has fallen in love with him. She is training to be a paramedic and works a dead end job in a supermarket where Rob is the only remarkable thing; lost and angry since the death of his girlfriend Nina. Drawn into a relationship, the first time they’re in bed together so is Nina. A tangled and bloody mess of broken limbs, she is very much dead but still here, still talking, still angry…
However Holly doesn’t freak out and run – she is determined to be the one who heals Rob’s wounds. She can deal with the dead girl sharing their bed, their lives, their minds. If it’s what Rob needs, it’s what Holly will do, whatever the consequences…
Keven: Congratulations on making such a twisted movie with such a risky premise work on so many levels. Who came up with the initial concept and what inspired that kind of conversation to begin with?
The Blaine Bros: The story took some time to develop, and actually started as an idea about Rob and the parents of his dead girlfriend, Nina, and the weird relationship they had got into. It wasn’t until we started to lose people we loved that Nina started to talk, demanding she take part in the story, which was a damn sight more interesting to us.
But, finally, it wasn’t until we realised just how interesting a character the new girlfriend, Holly, is, that we could see how to write it as a feature film. She’s got a real choice in a situation where both Rob and Nina are stuck, and she chooses not only to stay but to embrace the whole thing, and will become fundamentally different as a result.
Keven: The curse of the sexually transmitted ghost has been done before with “It Follows”, but that film in particular relies more on the gimmick alone whereas Nina Forever definitely has more comedy and emotion injected into it. Have either of you seen that movie?
The Blaine Bros: We didn’t get to see “It Follows” until we were screening alongside it at the Trieste Science + Fiction film festival in Italy. We really enjoyed it, feels like they’ve gone for the thrills and we’ve gone for the underlying emotions, so they’re quite different experiences. So even though they’re quite different, they feel like they could be really great together as a double bill.
Keven: Was the plan always to be more darkly comedic or did the concept evolve over time?
The Blaine Bros: When we write we’re often making each other laugh, and this film was no different. We love all our characters but we also really love putting them through the mill, the poor buggers. That’s where the drama is, when it gets painful for them, and often when it’s painful, it can be funny for us all.
Keven: Nina’s introduction in the film was something else to say the least. Did Fiona have any reservations or hesitations with any of her scenes, considering she was naked and covered in blood all the time?
The Blaine Bros: Fiona’s main reservations were actually about taking on the role of a dead character, of putting herself into that headspace. She really commits to it when she acts, there’s a real honest truth to everything she does and directing her in those scenes was breathtaking in the way she brought it across. We’ve been with people when they have died and Fiona conveyed what we’d seen perfectly. But that’s quite a toll, to put really put yourself into that sort of a headspace.
Keven: Is there a hidden message to Nina Forever – note: Don’t have a threeway? Don’t get involved with someone who is still hung up on their ex? I feel like some of this was inspired by something personal but maybe that’s reaching?
The Blaine Bros: It’s definitely very personal, and it’s not just about death. We think anyone who’s lost someone they loved, be it through death or simply breaking up with them, will really get something from this. Every relationship you have shapes you in some way, and some relationships can really shape you in odd ways. The main message though is that even when it looks like it’s going to get really dark, you can work it out. It will get better.
Keven: The whole having sex in the cemetery was a bold move for Rob and Holly – in fact every time they did have sex it was just asking for trouble. This all sounds like hell to me.
The Blaine Bros: Yeah, in a way it’s a crazy bad situation, but it’s also one of the most fascinating and electrifying experiences you could ever have… For Rob to get to see the person he loved again, for her not to just be a corpse but still very much have the spark inside her that was always there, this is a twisted desire we all have for the people we’ve lost. And for Holly – this is what she wanted, in a way she’s revelling in the weirdness and the very deep feelings that abound – she’s not the type of girl who shrieks and runs, she’s someone who is drawn in by it all…
Keven: Having the blood stay behind even after Nina leaves is fairly brilliant too by the way – who came up with that?
The Blaine Bros: That was a really important part of the story from the moment Nina was there. When you’ve lost someone, it’s a burden on you, on the people around you, it’s not something that neatly disappears into the ether. It’s a huge emotional mess that constantly needs repair, and that seems like a sisyphean task, like it’ll never work out. And we also wanted to make a film which really revels in the joy and satisfaction you get when you do your cleaning.
Keven: What’s the one thing about this movie that you worry about getting lost in translation to the audience? Because the film is much deeper than I expected it to be, do you worry someone may go into it expecting something else entirely but then getting a different vibe?
The Blaine Bros: There’s a comment on Youtube below the trailer which certainly pushed the other way we could have gone – to have sold the film just as a romance and surprise the hell out of everyone who then went to see the film!
But yeah, you’re right, it can be easy for some people to think it’s just going to be blood and sex and to be waiting for the bit where they do a chase or get a priest in or try and piss in a magic wishing well to make it all alright again…
In the opposite way, we originally didn’t go to see Let The Right One In, because I thought it was going to be a dumb and cheesy vampire flick that was looking to do some scares, rather than the moving and frankly beautiful film that it is… But I think now more and more people are getting to see it, the more word is out there that Nina Forever is the kind of film it is, that people will more and more just enjoy it for what it is, not for what it isn’t.
Keven: Great soundtrack too by the way – it was really nice to hear Dan Le Sac Vs Scroobius Pip. Music is such an integral part of the films I love and I adored your choices. Which artist’s music were you most proud of getting onto the film?
The Blaine Bros: We love Scroobius Pip! We actually got the chap who does a lot of his music videos to do the Behind The Scenes video for us on the film. We’re proud of all the tracks that are in the film, are totally honoured to have Amanda Palmer in there (her music was an inspiration for us when we were writing the film). But especially cool is to get in folks like Ladybrugs, whose “Body Of Love” we’ve used in the trailer as well as the film and who Ben found online on Soundcloud, and Special Needs, whose “Motorbikin’ ” plays on Rob’s headphones, who we have dearly loved from the day we filmed them playing a gig in a pub in Acton.
Keven: Maybe not a lot of folks know this but you two did a short film about a guy who has to whack off a talking Panda. How about turning that insane concept into a full length? No?
The Blaine Bros: The short film “Hallo Panda” is on iTunes, if you click on either of our names it should come up alongside Nina Forever! And it is definitely something we will make as a feature film – it was originally a feature idea which we squeezed down into a half hour for a scheme run by Film4, and we’ve written a few drafts of the full-length version. But to do it really right we’ll need to build an entire zoo, so the budget’s a bit higher on that one and we’re waiting for a bit before getting to it…
Keven: What’s next on tap for the Blaine brothers – Nina Forever is getting rave reviews, so eyes are now on you for the next feature. Can you tease anything?
The Blaine Bros: A couple of things – a thriller that is as much a thriller as Nina is a horror, which is about painting, spies, blindness, leg injuries and contained spaces, which we’re currently writing to direct ourselves.
And we’ve just been attached as directors to an Irvine Welsh (Trainspotting) original script that he’s written with his writing partner Dean Cavanagh. That’s a heist movie about four women from Leith who knock off the local casino, and it’s definitely a twisted, fucked-up and darkly funny story, and we think there’s a hugely cinematic side to Leith and Edinburgh that we can capture on film that’s not been seen before.