This past week I was lucky enough to sit down with the directors and producer of Ordinary Love, the moving story of an ordinary (yet beautiful) relationship facing an extraordinary challenge.
So Ordinary Love is a very raw film and real film. When were you inspired to make this film? Was it when Owen wrote the screenplay?
Lisa – Owen McCafferty is a brilliant playwright, and I’m sure a lot of people know his work. We’d been talking to him about his first screenplay for a long time and ideas were swirling around. Owen and David (Holmes) had been on a similar experience of loss with David having lost his sister to cancer so David talked to Owen about making this the subject of the screenplay and I think Owen found this a challenging idea at first, it’s a tough place to go back to, but ultimately I think we’re telling a positive story, connecting with it in an honest and sentimental way.
Glenn – Owen talked about this with his wife and she said some good could come out of it by sharing this story and I think one of the things we loved about this was the script. When they go on this journey it really is a love story at the heart of it and we felt it was unusual to see a love story like this for people of this age but also a story like this without the sentimentality that is often seen in these stories. It’s about a collection of small moments that when joined together has a lot of power and emotional resonance.
For the first time in my career I get to ask the question, was it difficult coming up with the title?
Lisa – It’s an interesting story because yes love is ordinary in that it’s commonplace if we’re lucky we all get to experience it some time in our lives in some form but what we’re also saying is those moments of everyday connection, commonplace connection between people is where the magnificence of life lies and that is what is really worth celebrating on the biggest of screens. This was called Normal People, we changed the title for obvious reasons, Sally Rooney’s brilliant book has taken the world by storm, the title we came to ended up feeling better for the film. The reason because it is about looking at love and looking at that and looking at where the magnificence lies in those moments we spend together. It is really a story that celebrates that connection between two people.
Glenn – And I think as well if you look at anyone’s life close enough you will find the magnificent and the epic and the mundane. I think that’s rare to find on screen these days, I think a lot of things are sensationalized a little bit, where they are forcing the drama. I see it as less is more.
What was the process like to find your Tom and Joan for Ordinary Love?
Lisa – It was a very swift process, it’s a rare opportunity when you get to cast the people who are at the top of your list. We could hear Liam’s voice in the script and thought wouldn’t it be wonderful, we’d actually talked to him about a previous project so we had a sense he’d be interested.
Glenn – We sent him the first draft and luckily he connected with it and he signed unbelievably quickly. We’re also big fans of Leslie and she was coming off a very busy year but she was able to connect with the material too. There was definitely a sense of the planets aligning.
Lisa – So we got to bring these two incomparable actors together onscreen for the first time.
Glenn – And they’d never met before. Now they’d worked with a lot of the same people but never together.
So what’s the road been like to the release of Ordinary Love, Brian?
Brian – It’s been a four-year journey, for some people longer. David Holmes my producing partner basically suggested that Owen write this story because Owen and his wife had gone through a similar story to what Tom and Joan go through in Ordinary Love. At that point, I was brought onboard and Owen had talked to his wife and she had said why not? If some good can come of this we should try. So he wrote a treatment. The first draft was then put on Liam’s desk.
It’ funny actually this is my second feature film but I’ve read hundreds of feature film scripts and I’ve made eighteen short films so I have a certain degree of experience, even if I still feel like I’m still starting out in feature films, and I can say with all confidence that I’ve never read a first draft that is as good as Owen’s for Ordinary Love and I don’t I ever will again until I get the first draft of his next thing.
Do you think it comes from his playwright background because it impressed Liam so much that he immediately came on board?
Oh definitely, for us when Liam signed on it was like, oh shit, well for me it was like oh this is real. I got the call Liam had signed up and I was like what am I going to do was my first instinct and I was on my first film The Dig which was a smaller film. I was sitting in on the first day of principal photography on The Dig when I got the call Liam had signed up so actually in my little head I couldn’t cope with anything else, that was the point that could have snapped me.
So when Lesley came on what was that like?
Talk about your dream, dream, dream cast. The directors saw the most important thing was who do we cast opposite Liam and in consulting Liam it was very clear, very quickly that Lesley Manville was the number one choice. At that point so many things had happened already in the infancy of this project that you couldn’t have written it, you couldn’t have wished for better that when she signed up I was like of course she did.
Check out the Scannain podcast below for the full unfiltered interview where I go even more in-depth with Lisa, Glenn, and Brian and be sure to stay tuned to Scannain for our full review of Ordinary Love.