Four months since its UK cinematic release, director Stevan Riley reflects on the success and reception of the 007 documentary 'Everything or Nothing'
Which was the first Bond film you can remember seeing?
The first film I remember seeing was "The Spy Who Loved Me" when it was on T.V. but I don't remember the first one I saw in the cinema. Although, I remember seeing "GoldenEye" in the cinema and the anticipation before it came out. I remember the buzz and the excitement of going to see Pierce's first one, and I saw that when I was a student at university. It was quite a big deal at the time, and perhaps I didn't really understand the strength of that anticipation until I was researching the film, and the fact that Bond had been off the screen for six years.
What was the first thing you did when you learnt that you'd landed the job?
Actually, the first thing I did was read, in fact. I just started reading and watching the films slowly. In the break between my reading, I'd watch the odd Bond film. To read all the key texts and watch all the films took me about three weeks. Then I started writing the proposal, which took a further three weeks. So, in all, it was about six weeks of just doing pre-production and prepping the story, trying to find a way into the narrative.
There have been numerous books written on the subject of James Bond. When you were researching the film, which of the books proved to be the most useful?
I read absolutely everything I could. I read a good number of the key texts that were out there. "The Battle For Bond" was obviously very useful for researching the McClory story; "Licence to Thrill: A Cultural History of the James Bond Films", which was great for the politics of Bond; "James Bond: The Legacy" by John Cork... I mean I had a stack of something like fifteen to twenty books, underlined and annotated that I would go to alternately. I had to rely on visual memory, to remember what book I'd seen something in and then dart to it, rather than concerning myself with what the author's opinion was. It was more a way of just collating my facts. Suffice to say I read a good amount!
Who was your favourite interviewee during the making of the documentary?
I really enjoyed the vibe and the honesty and the interaction that I had with all the interviewees. George Lazenby was obviously really interesting, I thought Pierce Brosnan was great as well, I mean I really engaged with Pierce. But some of the less well-known names, such as "Jerry" Juroe, David Picker and Eric Pleskow, gave a very different perspective on the world of Bond - an honest, brash, businesslike approach to things. They saw things as they were and didn't try to dress it up. They told you the real deal and what was happening behind the scenes, and how Bond managed to be an ongoing business concern, which is crucial, really. I mean, without Bond bringing in the audiences and bringing in the money, it wasn't going to survive.
You make some interesting and unconventional choices with the music in this film. For instance, using instrumental theme from "A View To A Kill" to underscore the drama of Harry Saltzman's death.
I suppose I ordered the songs in my own head in terms of the importance of mood. So, when I was assembling them within the edit I just had to ask myself what mood I was conveying. I listened to the soundtracks over and over until it got to the point when I determined what mood and feel I wanted for a scene and the tune would just pop itself into my head, because I knew it all back-to-front. But obviously you start with a theme, you start with a mood you want to achieve, and then it's just a case of what best fits. Sometimes that choice is obvious, at other times not, but I was listening to the Bond scores back-to-back over the course of the edit.
You must be very pleased with the way in which Everything Or Nothing has been received?
It's been fantastic, but I tell you genuinely the nicest buzz has been getting the thumbs up from the fans, because those are the people I expected to be my harshest critics. So, for them to come out and say things like "this film has really justified my interest in Bond" or "this has really explained it to my family members. Now people who aren't fans of Bond can understand why I'm a fan." I think that really means that I managed to achieve what I really set out to do, which is to make a film that would be as interesting to non-Bond fans, as the most hardcore Bond fans.
How does it feel to know that the film will get it's own DVD release?
I'm obviously over the moon with that. I always hoped and presumed it would have its own release, but you never quite know what the distributor has intended for it. I heard rumors that it might not get its own release, but that said, the studios obviously considered it worthy of a release in its own right and that the film has merit.