Interview With Simon Phillips

Simon Phillips cut his teeth as an actor/producer on the infamous Jack Trilogy and has been a prolific figure in British film for the past few years. Now he is ready to step it up a gear, releasing 6 films in the next 6 months. Simon can be seen in Strippers vs. Werewolves, Riot and UFO as well as many others in the coming year, working alongside Hollywood legends such as Robert Englund, Mark Hammil and Jean-Claude Van Damme. Front Row Reviews checked in with Simon to see how he was holding up and find out his thoughts in this exciting time in his career

 

[Front Row Reviews] You’ve been a prominent player in the British film industry for a few years now, what do you think of the state of the national industry? Is there anyone who inspires you in the industry, past or present?

[Simon Phillips] We’re in very exciting times at the moment, the British Film industry is thriving with talent and the stakes are very high for exposure of your products, but they always have been. We’re still too American lead, in terms of what we watch, but as the quality of Brit flicks is on the rise so too are the audience numbers eager to digest our films. Nick Love and Danny Boyle inspire me as creative film makers that really did know how to break new ground, whilst Simon Pegg and Ricky Gervais are personal heroes in the comedic zone for me! I just wish that they would be supported by our British film industry a little more so that they wouldn’t have to go off to the US to make a living!

 

[FRR] You are perhaps most famous for the Jack trilogy right now. Did you enjoy making these films? Is there another in the pipeline?

[SP] The Jack Trilogy was amazing for me; it’s what I cut my teeth on as an actor and a producer. To be part of the first ever independent British feature film trilogy is very special to me and all those who were involved in all three films.  I loved seeing the whole thing through 3 films with a whole array of people, particularly Toby Meredith (Producer) and Paul Tanter (Writer/Director). I don’t know if we’ll do another one, it felt like we just hit our stride on the last one, and the story was kinda tied up – so it’d have to be the right script for us to get back behind it…but never say never!

 

 

[FRR] With so many films due for release last year and as many this year you seem to be a man on a mission, working extremely hard. Are you experiencing a bizarre mixture of fatigue and elation?

[SP] Yes we do like to keep busy for sure! And in this game being busy is actually the most you can ask for. Everyone is very thankful that people like what we do enough to allow us to keep doing it. I can’t stop now, I think if I stopped I’d die… wouldn’t know what to do with myself if there wasn’t some huge panic to shoot something! But we’re in one of those situations where the work keeps flowing in, so it’s very hard to say ‘no’ to anything that excites and motivates me.

 

[FRR] You have produced many of the films you have acted in, over half of them, what made you want to produce? What are the benefits/downsides of this extra role?

[SP] I always had a good head for business and I consider myself to have a good commercial mind for what the market may like in terms of product, so it was really about just combining those talents with my passion for performance. It allows you to put projects in the hands of people you’d like to work with, in the last 18 months I have been lucky enough to work with Richard E Grant, Mark Hamill, Steven Berkoff and Jean Claude Van Damme – all personal boyhood hero’s of mine – and fantastic actors. The downside is that it’s a lot more work and responsibility, but that’s OK – I genuinely love every project (you have to otherwise you’d burn the master tapes in the post production phase).

 

[FRR] You direct for the first time in Riot, released in September this year, what made you want to direct? Would you do it again?

[SP] Directing Riot was a first for me, and it was very exciting to be behind the camera. I will do it again, but not sure what that will be in the form of. I spent a great deal of time thinking about the actors that I’d like to direct and tell our story and ended up with the most wonderful cast, so I am very excited to show everyone the finished product and my first feature as director… which now I feel nervous about too!

 

[FRR] This year you are in Strippers vs Werewolves with Stephen Berkoff and Robert Englund, UFO with JC van Damme and Airborne with Mark Hamill. Is this your breakout year? What was it like working with the aforementioned actors?

[SP] Like I said before all these guys were amazing – found myself staring at them when I should have been working! And hopefully the next 12 months will be a very exciting journey for me as I have no less then 6 films coming into the market in the space of 6 months… so people are gonna love me or start saying ‘who the hell is this guy and where did he come from!’

 

[FRR] What does the future hold for you? A move to Hollywood or would you rather stay in Britain? Any more exciting projects to announce?

[SP] We’re about to start work on a project entitled Shame The Devil – which is a film set between London and New York written by my good friend Paul Tanter (Jack Trilogy) which I am very much looking forward to. I play the part of a detective trying to unravel a serial killers motives for elaborate killings of people that lie to people they love… very dark and disturbing – but it does mean a month in NYC which I think everyone is up for!

My business partner, Jonathan Sothcott, is also working up a new version of the Essex Boys story called Feral – which is a very exciting take on what may have happened that famous day in 1995. So stay tuned.

 

About The Author

Jonathan went back to university to study Film Journalism in Glasgow in 2012 and hasn't looked back since. Writing for the Edinburgh Internation Film Festival, The Birmingham Review, The Electrolyte Magazine as well as Front Row Reviews he enjoys working across media and if not lambasting folk about politics it's film on his agenda. Working in The Electric Cinema in Birmingham has allowed him to come closer to the medium he loves, his favourite filmmaker is Wong Kar-Wai.

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