Iain Morris is the co-creator of TV sitcom The Inbetweeners together with his writing partner Damon Beesley. The pair also directed the two wildly successful Inbetweeners spin-off movies. Morris returns with feature film comedy The Festival, starring Joe Thomas as Nick, a post-grad who endures a rite-of-passage as he goes with his friend Shane (Hammed Animashaun) to a music festival.
ASFF: What appealed about the idea of a festival-set comedy?
IM: It was that thing of feeling like a modern youth British rite-of-passage in the same way as some of the stuff we’ve done with The Inbetweeners. The first Inbetweeners film was the lads’ holiday; the second was the gap year. It felt like this is another thing with a rich seam of comedy for the youth audience. Initially, Damon and I were going to direct it together but he was doing his TV show [White Gold] so I took it on myself really.
ASFF: How do you set out to approach the film stylistically?
IM: One of the things we tried to do with both the Inbetweeners films is make a British low-budget film but with a sense of scale. The Festival has scale in the same way, [like] shooting at Leeds [music festival]. Kasabian very kindly allowed me to use their crowd. We also went to Bestival to shoot crowds.
ASFF: So the ambition of the project was part of the appeal?
IM: Definitely. Of course. I really love cinema and I love going to the cinema to watch things, but I particularly enjoy going to watch things with ambition. Comedies can do that particularly well. There’s nothing else – apart from going to a stand-up – where you can go to a room and laugh with 300 other people.
ASFF: Did you think about bringing Joe Thomas in for the lead as soon as you read the script?
IM: We had a read-through and as a favour he came in to read the part of Nick. At the time the part of Nick was a little bit moany; he had a little bit of a negative vibe to him. But Joe was brilliant and hilarious and sweet, rather than moany, which would’ve got tiring for the character. He’s such a good friend of mine, I’m a little bit biased. I was almost trying not to cast him, but everyone else said he’s perfect.
ASFF: What’s been your own experience of festivals?
IM: I went to Glastonbury years ago and performed in a comedy tent. I remember getting there the first night and thought it was incredible; it was like a city with music, dance, food and people. I thought it was the most incredible place I’d ever been. And then I woke up in the morning and it really stank! And The Levellers were the headline band and I thought, This is not for me.’ And I spent twenty years avoiding it. But then I went to Glastonbury last year and thought it was the best.
The Festival in now open in cinemas. Find out more here.
1. Still from The Festival.