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LOCKE

Constructing Locke
Writer-director Steven Knight began considering the nature of filmmaking when he was putting the finishing touches to his directorial debut Hummingbird at the end of 2012. "I wondered if I could strip the whole process down to the basics," Knight explains. "The idea is to get a load of people in a room, turn the lights off and persuade them to look at a screen and engage with whatever is there.

"People talk about the journey and the arc and all that stuff. LOCKE boils all that down," continues Knight, who received an Oscar nomination for his script Dirty Pretty Things in 2004. "In this film, the journey is a real journey and the arc is a real arc. Someone begins with a job and a family and a wife and by the end of the journey, pretty much in real time, he's got nothing left."

LOCKE, starring Tom Hardy as Ivan Locke, is set almost entirely in a car. Ivan's is the only face we see; the other characters are the voices at the other end of his sometimes angry, sometimes funny, often shattering telephone calls. The backdrop is a hypnotic vista of motorway lights, illuminating Ivan's face as well as the demons he is battling and the choices he is making.

The concept was inspired by a series of camera tests Knight had done for Hummingbird in which he had shot the view from a moving car using an Alexa camera. "It was mesmerising," recalls Knight of the footage. "Cities and roads at night are beautiful, I could look at them for hours. And so I started thinking about whether you could tell a story that all takes place within a vehicle."

Knight, whose writing credits also include the 2007 crime thriller Eastern Promises, directed by David Cronenberg, has a reputation in the industry as a very likeable and supremely talented writer. He took his idea for LOCKE to Shoebox Films, the emerging new UK company also producing Hummingbird, in November 2012.

Shoebox is comprised of a troika of renowned film-makers: leading film executive Paul Webster, first assistant director-turned-producer Guy Heeley and acclaimed director Joe Wright, whose credits include a startling, innovative take on Anna Karenina (produced by Webster). Their interest was piqued by Knight's simple pitch. "Steve said, 'I'm thinking about doing a movie and it's not going to be a movie. It's going to be like an installation piece, something you might see in a gallery'," says Webster with a smile. "As a producer you remain impervious to all kinds of shocks, so Guy and I said, 'OK, fine'. You think about how you would achieve that. You think, "OK, he wants to make a movie, we like him, we love his talent, and it will be good because everything Steve does is good. But how the hell do you pull this off?'" Knight and the Shoebox producers knew to make it work they needed a world-class film star. "In my opinion, the best actor around is Tom Hardy," says Knight of the british actor who has most recently starred in Christopher Nolan's blockbusters Inception and The Dark Knight Rises.

Neither Knight nor the producers had worked with Hardy. However Hardy had been close to playing both Joey in Hummingbird and Mr Darcy in Joe Wright's Pride And Prejudice, also produced by Webster, a role for which he was ultimately considered too young at the time.

"We asked Steve how he was going to get Tom Hardy, who is the busiest actor in the world, to commit to this," says Webster. "Steve said, 'I'm having a drink with him tomorrow at the Groucho Club and I'm going to talk him into it'. We said, "OK, well call us after that", and sure enough Steve did and said, "Tom's in". We didn't believe it for a second and followed up with his agents, both here and in America. They said, "Yeah he likes this, so once there is a script, he'll do it, and he'll give you a window to do it in. And that window was two weeks."

Hardy's wafer-thin availability in early 2013 presented the filmmakers with an enormous but appealing creative challenge.

"The conversation became, 'can we make a film in two weeks?' " says producer Guy Heeley. "We decided we could. We could if we were absolutely sure it would work technically and we had all our ducks in a row. I was a first assistant director for 15 years so this is my area of expertise."

The team decided to rehearse for a week and shoot for a week. Stuart Ford's Los Angeles-based sales and financing company IM Global, which had also backed Hummingbird, agreed to finance the project in December 2012 on the strength of Knight's two-page outline. Knight then wrote the script over Christmas 2012.

LOCKE is a compelling human drama about how one man's life is irrecoverably altered one night as he drives from Birmingham to London. While driving, Ivan makes a series of devastating phone calls to his wife Katrina (Ruth Wilson) and young sons (Tom Holland and Bill Milner). Ivan also has to handle the calls from Bethan, the woman who was his assistant on a job site months ago, as well as a series of work-related telephone calls, including from his boss Gareth (Ben Daniels), who reluctantly fires him, and his scatter-brained but loyal colleague Donal (Andrew Scott), who Ivan needs to help him finish the job and oversee a vital delivery of concrete.

"I wanted it to be what I think of as an ordinary tragedy," says Knight. "It's an ordinary man to whom an ordinary thing has happened. It's not a car chase or an alien invasion. But to everyone involved it is a massive tragedy."

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