Interview Patrick Myles: It’s about a quest for the ultimate belonging

The Overcoat, the latest film from director Patrick Myles is a brilliant film which is based on the work of the Russian/Ukrainian writer Nikolai Gogol. A fantastic film whose cast includes the legendary Jason Watkins, we got the opportunity to talk to Patrick Myles about his film, how he managed to cast Jason for the role of Christopher, his upcoming projects and when he first knew that he wanted to be a filmmaker.

Hi Patrick, how are you?

I’m very well, thank you for asking. What a lovely opening question.

Congrats on The Overcoat. It’s a very funny, witty but at the same time also dark and sinister film. Where did the idea for this come from?

It came from someone else! Nikolai Gogol, to be exact, who was a Russian/Ukrainian writer in the mid 19th. It’s based on his short story with the same name, although in our adaptation the action is transposed from Imperial Russia to a sort of parallel universe England.

The Overcoat is all about Christopher and the love for his coat, so the casting of the character was incredibly important for this movie. Jason Watkins is great as Christopher. How did you cast him for that role?

He’s wonderful in the part, isn’t he? I think he has such pathos as an actor and is so immediately likable – which is a rare and treasured gift for an actor. On top of all that, he’s so intelligent and knew the original text inside out, so the character really was an amalgamation of Gogol’s intentions and Jason’s interpretation. I had prepared concept art, mood boards, vision statements and the like so I approached his agent armed with those and the script, he read it and liked it, we met up for coffee and he agreed to do it. I was over the moon, and as soon as he was involved, lots of other wonderful people wanted to be involved too, which always helps.

How would you describe this movie in just one sentence?

It’s about a quest for the ultimate belonging.

If there’s one item of clothing that should be in every man’s wardrobe, what would it be for you? An overcoat as well or something different?

I’m a scarf man. I love a good scarf. Any self-respecting artist should be able to wear a scarf that is absurdly long and cumbersome with great aplomb.

With this film, you’ve been to different film festivals such as DC Shorts festival and Palm Springs Shortfest. Are there any more festivals you will be attending?

Yes, in two weeks we’ll be at Dinard Film Festival in Brittany, which I’m really looking forward to as it’s a beautiful place and they have some other great films screening (plus Monica Bellucci and Tim Spall are on the jury!), and in November we’ll be at Norwich Film Festival and Aesthetica Film Festival in York.

These days, people watch movies on their small computer screen. Why do you think that people should go to film festivals and watch this movie (and others) on big screens instead of staying at home?

For me it’s a couple of things: as an aesthetic experience, watching a film in dark room on a massive screen that fills your vision, with speakers that surround you, is a truly immersive experience and it means you can truly watch a film, and not get distracted by your phone, commercials or errant children. Also, the communality of watching a film is part of the attraction because you’re going on this journey alongside a room full of people who are experiencing it for the first time with you. It’s the same reason that the fundamentals of theatre hasn’t changed for two thousand years, it’s because human beings like to experience storytelling communally – it makes you feel less alone in the vastness of the universe.

What was it in life that made you want to become a filmmaker?

I started off as an actor, so I was already in the world, and it kind of grew from that as I became more aware that I wanted to express myself and tell the stories that were important to me, rather than just be a conduit for someone else’s stories.

One more last question: Do you have any other upcoming projects soon?

Hopefully, yes. I’m currently writing what I hope will be my first feature film, a comedy heist film, which is a genre I love, so it should be a fun ride if we can manage to pull it all together.

Liselotte Vanophem, Film and Celebrity Reporter – Just Celebrity Magazine

Trailer for THE OVERCOAT, adapted from Nikolai Gogol’s short story from New Division Films on Vimeo.

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