Filmmaker Jim Marquand _320
GROWING UP on Hollywood film sets gave Jim Marquand a top-class education in the extraordinary.
Whether it was being drafted-in by his director dad Richard to do stunts for a primadona teenage actor, or playing three different extras in one film, it was all just an average day during school holidays.
But it was when his dad was chosen to direct one of the biggest films of all time, Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi, that his education went into over-drive.
Now Jim, who followed in his father’s directorial footsteps, is in Liverpool – his adopted home for 15 years – to make his second film set in the city.
And the 43-year-old is confident his new project is going to be unforgettable, starting with its title...
Whores With Guns is a comedy which was written by award-winning Scouse comic John Bishop.
Ex-footballer John was approached to write the script for a film competition run by North West Digital Departures.
And he quickly agreed to go ahead when he realised it would mean working with Jim.
Jim, a father of two boys – Tom, nine, and Dan, four – made his directorial debut with Dead Man’s Cards, also filmed in Liverpool.
It so impressed legendary Star Wars creator George Lucas, that he asked Jim to direct episodes of the eagerly-anticipated Star Wars television show next year.
"I’ve got so many vivid memories of the five months I spent on the set of Return Of The Jedi," recalls Jim. "I was about 18 and spent five fantastic months with dad while he filmed the movie in North California and Pinewood studios.
"I can remember walking onto one set which was the Ewok village, during a break in shooting. All these midget actors who were playing Ewoks had taken their costume heads off and were sat around smoking, drinking tea and reading newspapers. It was surreal.
"I got to know all the cast, too, and can remember Harrison Ford talking about being a carpenter before he got into acting. He was a very down-to-earth bloke."
Richard Marquand died 10 years ago, but along with his talent behind the camera he passed on a love of Liverpool to his son.
"My dad was from Wales but he was a big fan of Liverpool," says Jim. "I first came to the city a long time ago from North Wales.
"I just loved it and stayed during the late 80s and 90s. I was born in London and then moved to Boston in the US when I was seven, but I just felt right in Liverpool.
"My dad had his feet firmly on the ground too and never lived in Hollywood permanently, even when he was doing Star Wars
"I’m very excited about the film and things are gathering a real pace now. We will be looking at filming it as soon as possible."
Jim has relished working with John on the script for Whores With Guns, a satirical comedy about two slacker film fanatics’ desperate plan to screen their movie to a jaded film reviewer, which goes horribly wrong when they are mistaken for international terrorists.
"I met Jim at a viewing for his first film which proved to me the kind of quality you can achieve on a relatively small budget," says John.
"But it also dawned on me how vital it is to get a smaller film reviewed and into the public eye, and I joked that we could kidnap someone like Jonathan Ross and make him watch it.
"That sparked the idea for this film’s plot and it went from there.
"The main characters are three mates who work in a cinema and one of them has written a film script. He thinks he has written an anti-gun film about the way gun culture is subverting women in society and together they borrow the money to make it.
"But the film ends up being a terrible movie with girls in bikinis and stilettos, who carry machine guns and blow away loads of bad guys. The title is a reflection of those films like Snakes On A Plane and Debbie Does Dallas where you know what you’re getting.
"Everything has gone wrong for the lads, but they have borrowed the money to make it from investors, including a couple of gangsters, and they’ve got to make the film a success or else."
"Our sales agent in LA rang to say he loved the script and was really keen," says John who wrote the script in his own Scouse dialect. "The dialogue is all very much in my intonation but it has gone down well and we are in the final stages now."
The multi-talented comic wrote himself a part in the feature, playing cinema manager (and TA sergeant), Mr Franks, a character who should have audiences in stitches.
"The storyline is partly about how misunderstandings and irrational worries over things like terrorism can snow-ball. The lads don’t intend to but somehow they end up hi-jacking their cinema and the police think they are holding the critic hostage.
"There is a lot of Scouse sarcasm in it and I would like us to use local actors and sets. I want to use people who may not necessarily have made films before. We are hoping to use a great young actress called Ashley Hyland who was in Dead Man’s Cards and gave a brilliant read-through of this script.
"I’m just glad Jim and our producer, Phil Evers, liked the script. I was going to write something called Being Jamie Carragher with me as the main man, but they didn’t buy that!"