Lewes Cinema - A Guide to Recognizing your Saints
After Sunday night’s screening of the Sundance award-winning independent movie A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints, the Associate Producer of the film, Lewes resident Alex Francis, will be doing a Q&A session about this remarkable film. It would be a mistake to miss out on it, because the making of the movie, which he was intimately involved in from pre to post production, is quite a story.
Alex, by birth Canadian, tells me about it as we sit in the CasBah café on the High Street on Friday afternoon. The film is based on a novel by New Yorker Dito Montiel about his tough life on the streets of Queens, and the conflict caused by his attempts to escape it. “The book was practically self-published,” says Alex. “They’d printed a few hundred. It was in a Jack Kerouac-like style. Robert Downey Junior somehow got hold of it back in 2002, and thought it had filmic potential. He handed it to Trudie Styler, head of Xingu Films, where I was working as a script developer at the time. She handed it to me.”
The story gets more bizarre. “I was instructed to fly to Trudie’s husband Sting’s apartment in New York, where I was basically shut in a room with Robert Downey Junior and Dito Montiel for a week, thrashing out script ideas for an adaptation. It was quite a week. Sometimes I didn’t think that we all three would come out alive.” They did, with the radical decision that, not only was Montiel asked to develop the script; he was in the running to direct the movie, too. “I thought he had potential,” says Alex. Downey, an executive producer of the film, would play Montiel as an adult. “Dito wanted to do that, too, but we weren’t prepared to go that far.”