Movies, music and mayhem

Luke Treadaway, Natalia Tena and Mat Baynton talk about filming You Instead.

by Susanna Krawczyk

You Instead is the story of two musicians who become attached to each other in more ways than one after an incident with a pair of handcuffs at leading Scottish music festival T in the Park. I met with its stars on a lovely spring day at Glasgow's FilmCity building, a sandstone former town hall with views of Glasgow's famous Science Tower.

I was first greeted by Natalia Tena who stars as Morello, who was bubbling over with festival energy and introduced herself as Nat. After a brief chat about the unusually nice weather and our respective outfits (both fabulous) we were joined by Luke Treadaway, looking cool and stubbly, and nerd- favourite Mat Baynton, who play Adam and Tyko respectively.

"I had a weird omelette for breakfast." Mat tells me. "It had a bit of soggy asparagus in it."

After digesting that information, I get started on the questions.

What was it like to shoot a film in such a short time?

Natalia: "Four and a half days! It was amazing!"

Luke: "Yeah, we had about three weeks here in this building working on the script, developing relationships and, you know, in the evenings trying to work out how to be two fictional bands that'd be capable of playing T in the Park. So we were working all hours doing that here for three weeks, then we got up to the festival and just had four and a half days to go through it all. The average call-sheet you'll see on a film has maybe four scenes up for the day. On this it was like 18."

Natalia:"Drinking so much Red Bull! And eating fudge bars. The thing is, you drink it and you're raring to go, then you crash."

Mat: "After a while though, just like being at a festival, you got into it. And when we stopped for an evening, you would kind of want to be back out there. This insane sort of... death wish."

Natalia is in a real-life band called Molotov Jukebox. Have Luke or Mat had any involvement in music before?

Luke: "Yeah, I played in bands when I was a teenager, and I still play guitar and write songs now. One of the songs that I wrote and played for the producers here when I came in for my audition - it's called You Instead - we ended up playing at the beginning and the end of the film. And bizarrely it became the title."

Mat: "I'm in a band called Special Benny! But I'm also in a band called Grosvenor who are a bit more accessible. We had just finished touring with Hot Chip when I did the audition. The first day at T in the Park - my character has this yellow mac which I fell in love with - and I looked out the window and saw Alexis from Hot Chip wearing an almost identical mac and glasses, and I just thought 'Oh God, I hope he doesn't see me and think I've based this character on him.' He's nothing like Tyko!"

Tena and Treadaway getting their groove on in You Instead
Tena and Treadaway getting their groove on in You Instead

This film is very different from director David MacKenzie's previous work. What was it like working with him?

Natalia: "It was amazing! Basically, I think he is amazing. He doesn't mess around. I love that because sometimes you can waste so much time with directors trying to be sensitive with you, and I actually then miss the point of the scene. 'So what's your character's inner..?' and I'm getting more and more confused until I realise they're trying to make a point. I loved the directness because of time - I was like 'This? This?' and he was like 'Yes!' Bang."

Mat: "I feel like we were lucky to get to work with him on this particular project, because there's a reason he wanted to do a film that's impossible to do and so we worked with him on a project that I think was really reinvigorating for him. He was completely wired and passionate and he had this sort of hunter's look in his eye. You could see he was just constantly looking for opportunities. He had his own camera to shoot extra stuff on and he was always just going 'Let's do this! That looks amazing! Run! Run!'"

Luke: "You couldn't switch off because he wasn't gonna switch off. Even walking from one scene to another. It became pretty clear after day one, don't bother thinking you've got a five or ten minute break, because David ain't taking one so why waste the time?"

Natalia: "We barely even had time to go to the loo. I had to get extras to help me because I was handcuffed to Luke."

Luke: "It's funny because there's a scene where we have to use the toilets handcuffed together, obviously you see a scene like that, you think it might have been embarrassing to film, but by that point we'd been handcuffed together so long that boundaries were broken!"

Natalia: "Smashed!"

So how did everyone get involved in a film like this?

Natalia: "I got sent the script and I just thought it was absolutely banging. And then I went to the audition, spiked my hair red, took my accordion and played one of my songs from my band. And then I was in Athens seeing one of my mates and having loads of fun, and I got an email from my agent, she was really pissed off I was in another country. She said 'Nat, you need to learn all these scenes and be in Glasgow in two days!' It was pretty surreal. I met Luke on the plane."

Luke laughs:"I was sat at the gate and I had been told I was meeting Natalia here, which is great, because we could run through things on the plane and stuff, and then she comes running in with an accordion on her back, so we had an hour on the plane and then the taxi ride here to try to run through these scenes together. We spent an afternoon with David, and that was like our audition together."

Natalia: "The audition was a bit like how it was then done. We did the scene over and over again and he filmed from different angles. We met Ruta (Gedmintas) who plays Lake, Adam's girlfriend, and it was basically..." Good preparation? "Yeah!"

Mat: "David showed me that tape when I arrived. I think he was trying to work out how... how do you possibly make this film in such a short space of time? It was really impressive, that tape, even though there was no crowd. It helped us work out how to deal with the problems."

Luke: "I think one of the things that helped take the pressure off is that David said he was as much trying to work out how to shoot these scenes quickly and how to cut them together as we were trying to work out how to act them. We were doing like an hour a scene."

Mat: "Any extra time we did have, we weren't using to find more in existing scenes, we were adding. It wasn't 'Go back and try that moment again,' it was 'What else can we come up with while we're standing in front of the sunset?' Opportunities would present themselves to David - even when we were travelling between locations he'd come up behind you and say 'I'm filming!', so we just kind of wended our way through the festival, jumping and titting about and thinking 'Who knows? Some of this might get used.'"

"The fairground sequence!" yell Natalia and Luke simultaneously.

"Was that in the script?"

Natalia: "No, it wasn't."

Luke: "The script was more a jumping off point. It was like, the ingredients."

Natalia: "Which we then massively cooked!"

Luke: "I think it was a great way to work. It was a very live environment so we wouldn't know exactly what we were going to see when we were up there. David said 'Here's a fiver, go on some rides.' So we went on the whirlers and we went and got candyfloss."

"The whirlers!" says Natalia rapturously.

Was it something I said...?
Was it something I said...?

Luke: "It was brilliant, because as an actor it can become very sterile, shooting and standing on marks on a set doing one scene all day, and you've got to re-light and then have lunch and come back to the same scene and it becomes about trying to re-find that first way of doing it. Whereas a lot of this film is us doing it for the first time. It is us getting that candyfloss the first and only time! So it was kind of like, joyously brilliant. You wouldn't want to shoot every film that way, but for this I think it worked."

So the film captures the atmosphere of a festival like T?

Natalia: "Yeah!"

Did you feel you could absorb any of the atmosphere of T in the Park or was it more like work?

Mat: "I don't think we had any choice! We were so immersed in it. The amazing thing about it - if you were to try to stage that, in order to set a film at a festival, it would cost the earth and it would be so hard to direct the crowd. It would take days and days to do tiny little sequences. And you would still, after all that, not end up with something that feels as vibrant as the truth. So it was worth occasionally being jumped on by drunk, mad revellers."

Did anyone recognise any of you? Did you have to fend off autograph hunters in the middle of scenes?

Natalia: "No, but afterwards - after we were on stage in handcuffs - people started saying 'Oh you're those weird people security had to remove!'"

Luke "80,000 people had seen that scene so we were bound to then pass people who recognised us walking around handcuffed together."

Mat: "Also, the beginning of the film is us driving through the festival playing a song in the back of a little car, and if you see people driving through the festival playing in front of a camera you're going to assume they're a band. So people just looked a bit curious, thinking we must be someone, they just didn't know who!"

Luke: "It was quite an ego trip walking around pretending to be a rockstar and things like that really help you, like a camera crew following you."

Natalia: "They had extras round the tent when Luke was doing the signing, and all the people were to be screaming, and at that point they knew the songs, and they were singing and - who was on stage at that point?"

Luke: "Jay-Z!"

Natalia: "Jay-Z was on stage and people were walking past to get a beer, and I was waiting for them to finish the scene, and they'd say 'Who's that?' and I'd say 'It's The Make!' and people started to queue, wanting to find out."

Luke: "That's where it crossed over for me into performance art territory. Like an experiment both in how you can make films, because you would never get 80,000 extras to really do that, and also how make-believing something in an environment like that can sort of start to make it become a bit true. It really helped me to believe in it."

Mat: "Those extras were particularly wonderful. Because you can encourage people, and say 'we'd like you to do that', but that will only get you so far. So in that scene David and Danny told them, you know, 'you really love this band, and you want an autograph, and maybe you can shout out the names of a few songs' and they just instantly started singing at the top of their voices and then, it wasn't directed at all, but they picked us up and crowd-surfed us, they were just caught up in the fantasy of it."

Luke: "They were with us the whole time, they were camping with us. Some of them knew each other, but it was like a meeting-friends-on-holiday type vibe, and they came with us to be our stock crowd. They would get called out at four in the morning to come over to sit by a campfire. Their committment to it really helped make it what it is."

I suppose that's a traditional part of the festival - the cameraderie, the getting to know people?

Natalia: "Through the mud and mayhem, just getting on with it."

Mat: "The feeling that that time is its own thing."

You instead is out on Friday September 16th.

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