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Marc Munden, Film Director

Stepping out of the cutting room for editing The Crimson Petal and the White, Marc Munden took the time to talk the The Global Herald about film, writing and shopping in Manchester.

Marc Munden never studied film as a subject but instead made films with friend John Mathieson (cinematographer on Gladiator) and started out as an assistant for Mike Lee, Derek Jarman and Terence Davies, whom Munden describes as a “genius”.

His first documentary about a professional gambler came to the attention of Paul Watson, director of the 1974 TV series “The Family”, who put Munden on to making one of the “Forty Minutes” documentaries for the BBC.

Munden’s first  full-length film was “Christmas” for Channel 4, written by Jez and Tom Butterworth which hit the screens in 1996 and was followed by a string of quality productions for TV and film including:

  • 1997 Arthouse: Rebel with a Cause (TV documentary)
  • 1997 Touching Evil (TV series)
  • 1998 Vanity Fair (TV mini-series)
  • 2000 The Secret World of Michael Fry (TV mini-series)
  • 2002 Miranda
  • 2003 The Canterbury Tales: Knight’s Tale (TV mini-series)
  • 2004 Conviction (TV series)
  • 2006 Shiny Shiny Bright New Hole in My Heart (TV movie)
  • 2007 The Mark of Cain
  • 2008 The Devil’s Whore (TV mini-series)
  • 2010 Some Dogs Bite (TV movie)

Arthouse: Rebel with a Cause is 52-minute documentary shot in Los Angeles about Renegade artist and commercials director, Tony Kaye.

Munden’s 1998 production of Vanity Fair adapted by Andrew Davies for BBC1 won three FIPA D’Or prizes, the BANFF Special Jury Prize, as well as being nominated for six BAFTAs including Best Serial and two Royal Television Society Awards.

His police thriller Touching Evil starring Robson Green, Claire Rushbrook and Sean Gallagher was also nominated for three BAFTAs including Best Series and four Royal Television Society Awards including Best Series.

Conviction won the Nymphe d’Or at the Monte Carlo TV Festival. The full-length film, Miranda, which starred Christina Ricci, Kyle MacLachlan, John Hurt and John Simm was in selection at the Sundance Film Festival in 2002 and won the Audience Award at the Raindance Film Festival in 2003.

The Mark of Cain which told the story of two young soldiers in the Iraqi invasion of 2003 and their involvement with, and torture of, Iraqi detainees. The drama starring Gerard Kearns, Matthew McNulty and Leo Gregory, won a BAFTA for Best Single Drama and the South Bank Show Award for Best TV Drama. Other awards include the Rotterdam Film Festival Amnesty International Prize, the Nymphe d’Or at the Monte Carlo TV Festival with Munden being nominated for a BAFTA as Best Director and the Royal Television Society nominating the feature as Best Single Drama.

The English Civil War drama The Devil’s Whore starred Andrea Riseborough, Michael Fassbender, Dominic West and John Simm and won four Royal Television Society Awards including Best Serial, two Broadcasting Press Guild Awards again including Best Serial, as well as the South Bank Show Award for Best TV Drama and the Chicago Film and TV Festival Silver Hugo Award. The series was also nominated for four BAFTAs including Best Serial.

Marc Munden is mainly based in London but has done four projects in Manchester. Whilst he was working there, he was moved to write a story based on “Madam Bovary” syndrome or shopping addiction, based on his observations of the spending habits of Mancunians in the city centre. “Shiny Shiny Bright New Hole in My Heart” was the result and portrayed the tragic story of an addict, who could “just as easily have been addicted to heroin” says Munden.

Marc Munden will write again and has already begun work on a script dealing with Münchausen’s Syndrome. He is in the enviable position of being able to select new projects “purely on the quality of the writing” and gets to choose rich and powerful new stories from a variety of genres for production. He is particularly awed by writers such as Paul Abbott (Shameless, The Secret World of Michael Fry, Touching Evil) and Tony Marchant (The Mark of Cain, Great Expectations).

Some Dogs Bite is Marc Munden’s latest project to hit the small screen. The excellent film takes Love Actually’s Thomas Brodie Sangster and tells the tale of three half brothers avoiding the care system. Munden says:

“Some Dogs Bite is a film that can only have been made now – when adults are children and children are expected to be adults, when adults are no longer able to take on the burden of parenting, so infantilized have they become, so dependent on escaping through drugs and drink. And children have to take on that burden instead.”

Munden’s latest project muses on social ills once more with the trials and travails of a Victorian prostitute brought into focus. On production of The Crimson Petal and the White for BBC2, Munden admits to having being demanding of the cast, saying that he insists that the work is taken very seriously and that rehearsals for scenes are assiduous and purposeful.

Despite this studious atmosphere, Munden deliberately chose to work with Chris O’Dowd (IT Crowd, Gulliver’s Travels) for his comic ability. Saying that the Irish actor has a “great command of drama” Munden goes on to say “I can see him do bigger classically straight roles.”

The film covers the story of Sugar (Romola Garai), an alluring and well read young prostitute whose ambitions are close to being realised when she meets wealthy businessman William Rackham (Chris O’Dowd). Hoping to break out of the brothel controlled by Mrs Castaway (Gillian Anderson), Sugar escapes within herself by penning a secret novel where she writes of prostitutes murdering their clients:

Sugar is a thrilling antidote to William’s life, saddled with a pious brother, Henry Rackham (Mark Gatiss) and fragile wife Agnes Rackham (Amanda Hale.) Agnes regularly endures visits from the invasive physician Doctor Curlew (Richard E Grant) leaving her unable to perform her wifely duties.

William ensconces Sugar as his mistress and she soon grows accustomed to her new life. Yet unbeknownst to William, Sugar begins to hatch a plan which sets a series of events in motion that will change their lives forever…

Munden praises Anderson for her “fantastic” work playing the role of a much older woman. He also speaks highly of the book as “the novel that Dickens never wrote”. The four-part series is “very true to the book”, written by Michel Faber, which is a “meticulously researched” and “very funny” look at life in 1874 in London.

The Crimson Petal and the White will air on BBC2 in March 2011.

About Linda Scott

Linda Scott
Linda Scott is Editor in Chief, and a founder of, The Global Herald.

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