What, you think we’d show up at a public event with Doug Naylor in attendance and not stick a microphone under his nose? Short but sweet, here’s what the main man himself had to say to John Hoare and guest interviewer Jonsmad about Back to Earth – and The Future Of Red Dwarf – at the Berkeley Square event yesterday…
Are you happy with how the shows have turned out?
I’m… you’re never truly happy because you always see things that you would have done differently. And you always wish there was more time. But just being realistic, from the cards that we were dealt at the time – hardly any time to do it, a fourteen day shoot, and the budget was really tiny, and because we’ve used brand new technology and so many people have done the show for next to no money. In fact, one of the guys – the guy who’s done the skutters, they’re CGI, but they don’t look it – he did that for a signed copy of the script! So when you’ve got that, people out there who are prepared to work their heart out – and you know, everyone worked incredibly long hours, the dubbing guy was starting at 10 in the morning and an early day for him would be quitting at midnight. But he was really enjoying what he was doing. Everyone worked so hard. There’s a chase sequence in there that looks like a night shoot, but it wasn’t, we shot it during the day! And it was kind of a very difficult scenario personally for me, because I had start writing the script much later than I intended to for personal reasons – I started it on November the 17th.
So with that kind of turn around period and with the small budget, we’ve delivered something that I think no-one expected us to deliver. Certainly in terms of production quality.
And in terms of story?
The story… well, I am confident that everyone will despise me on Saturday! I’m really, really confident. And they will be hurling things at the television, and just going “We hate him so much!” But hopefully by Sunday… they won’t!
What about the future of Red Dwarf? Are you looking to make something off the back of this? Or is this a wrap up?
We genuinely don’t know. It depends… I mean, as we stand here now, nothing else is commissioned. If it was absolutely the last show, I think it’s a much better way to go out than the end of season eight – which we never intended to go out that way. So it’s a much better “out”.
But… the guys want to do more. We have to see if anyone else wants to do more. You know, it depends. If no-one watches this… well, we need to get good ratings. I’m slightly worried that everyone is just going to watch it on the internet, and so they won’t be able to quantify the actual number of people who have actually watched it! And that is my only worry – if we do then get low ratings, and you think “Well, hang on, this isn’t right, loads of people have seen this, but we can’t quantify it!” And because quite a large percentage of the money is put in depending on DVD sales, then it depends on what the DVDs do, as well.
It’s a really difficult time for making TV shows anyway, because of the “credit crunch” and all those things. And Red Dwarf is particularly hard, because it’s not easy to make cheap shows – even with a show based seemingly on Earth, we can’t just sit in a cafe all day and pass that off as Red Dwarf! And I know people who’ve seen bits already are going “Oh, it looks like a fan film” – you know, there was a thing in the Guardian – and it’s just because they’ve seen it out of context. They haven’t seen that bit and they haven’t seen this bit, so they think we’re just going to be driving around in Carbug going “Ermmm” and having an adventure.
And yet you’re still the first show to be using the Red camera, and on such a small budget!
Yeah, I have had incredible backing, because people were extremely nervous. Even people who had previously worked on the show were writing in going “He’s mad, he doesn’t know what he’s doing, the Red One cameras don’t work in post production, the workflow doesn’t work, it’s too scary, you’ll really fall on your face…” And you know, we haven’t. And it’s worked out really well. But it was still tough for people to trust me, because this is the first show I’ve directed on my own, so there’d be another reason not to go down that route – but I wanted to use really cutting edge technology, and do it in a completely different way to how we’d ever done it. So our vis FX team was based in Sydney, Ukraine, Chicago, Manchester, London… all sending stuff in. And if you’re not used to that, it’s a lot of people to keep track of!
How did you find directing by yourself for the first time?
Oh, loved it. Absolutely loved it. You don’t have to explain so much to everyone, and I’m not saying I didn’t make mistakes, there’s no question I made mistakes, but I wasn’t arriving at the back of a truck and thinking “This plastic crocodile, this is obviously for eye lines. This isn’t actually the plastic crocodile we’re going to be using, obviously. Where’s the real animatronic crocodile?” I didn’t have that. And we were better prepared than we have ever been prepared. And that’s why we are able to have as many vis FX shots as we did.
There are a lot in it, aren’t there?
Well, Mike did 250. And some of them… most of them you hopefully won’t be aware of. It’s things being comped into TVs, where you think “that’s just stuff that’s on the telly”. And then there are more complex things, virtual sets, and other things too. And there’s a foreground miniature in there. Which I was dying to do, using an old technique as well as all the new techniques. And Mike wasn’t involved with that – in fact, he didn’t know we were doing that, he’d left the shoot a couple of days earlier to go back to Australia and start the post. And when he saw that he was just really delighted with the fact that we were using old-school techniques as well as the new.
It’s a complete mix, is it, of old and new?
Yeah. It’s basically every technique I knew, to try and be able to tell the story. Because a lot of the time we don’t have walls! We don’t have walls because we can’t afford walls! Now if you notice that a lot, then it’s big trouble, but if you actually go through it and look, some walls are greenscreen, some are plastic sheets, some are black drapes – but hopefully you won’t notice that because of the way it’s lit and what-have-you.
Doug Naylor, thank you very much, and good luck with the specials!
Thank you, thanks very much indeed. And thanks for all the support!