Interview with Mark Noyce


Below is an interview with director/writer/actor Mark Noyce about his career and new mockumentary film, On The Ropes:

When did you first get into film?

I was a martial arts competitor from the age of 6 but retired in the mid 90’s to focus on performing. I started with live Martial arts events and Theatre but eventually made the transition into stunt work and fight choreography for film and TV. In 2009 I was set to begin working as a stunt fighter on a feature film when one of the actors became ill and they had to look at recasting the role.  The opportunity to be considered came up and after reading the script and working closely with the director and producer I was offered the part.

The film was shot over a 4 month period and I had a great experience, after that I made the decision to focus on auditioning for speaking roles.

What is your favourite genre of film?

Within reason I’ll watch pretty much anything but my favourite is definitely horror and comedy. My film collection is made up mostly of comedies and I love some of the old 80’s stuff. I think I drive my Wife mad sometimes as I’ll often watch a film over and over again. I’m a huge ‘Tales from the Crypt fan’ and own every single episode on DVD. At home I have a life-size ornament of the crypt keeper coming through the wall. Guests hate it when they stay over; I’ve positioned it so it’s overlooking them. Whenever I’ve been over to the US I always come back with some ‘Tales from the Crypt’ merchandise, I really wish they’d make another series.

What is your favourite place to work on a film?

I love working over here in the UK. I like that I can be filming in central London and within an hour am doing another scene in the countryside. England has some lovely locations and I believe that’s proven by how many foreign films come over here.

How difficult can it get on set?

Well I’d be lying if I said it ran smoothly all the time, but I have been extremely lucky with having a good team supporting me. On a few occasions we had really tight shooting schedules, particularly when we had a lot of extras on set which meant filming could be very demanding.

What actors do you one day wish to work with?

I’d like to work with Ricky Gervais, I genuinely believe he should be recognised as a pioneer in comedy and the influence he has had around the world proves that. Thomas Lennon is also someone I have huge respect for as both a writer and actor, I was hooked on his US TV series Reno 911 and the entire cast of that are amazing.

My all-time favourite comedian was the late Benny Hill; he was way ahead of his time and an absolute master of his art. I would have loved the opportunity to have met him and I hope he will be remembered as the genius I believe he was.

What inspires you to write?

Any form of being creative appeals to me, competing and performing in martial arts used to be my outlet but after I retired writing slowly replaced it. I have a bit of an overactive imagination so always needed to be doing something with it. Inspiration for comedy tends to come from real life situations, not always funny situations but things I’ll look at and try to put a humorous spin on.

An ambition of mine is to be involved in a horror project, I’ve been writing some short horror stories which are heavily inspired by ‘Tales from the Crypt’. Also I like ‘Tales from the unexpected’ but the music freaks me out that much I have to mute it until it’s finished. I have memories as a kid laying upstairs in bed at night and hearing the music come on in the living room where my parents were watching it.

Can you tell us anything about your film, On the Ropes?

I originally wrote the story around three years ago, having been involved in the gym culture for most of my life I’ve met some fascinating people and have managed to get myself into some hilarious situations. Being a keen writer I’d written loads of little sketches loosely based on some of these characters and incidents. With the material I’d collected I started to work on a story and figuring out how I could piece them all together. Initially I had planned to do a short film but the script soon became a feature. We filmed over 24 hours of footage; some people have suggested it would make a good series.

When will it be released?

It’s scheduled for a nationwide release this autumn through cornerstone media international. We have also received a good deal of interest from the United States and are currently in negotiations to release over there. It would be good to see a release overseas as I think the humour would appeal to the American audience.

How was the experience working on it?

Demanding, but worth every minute of hard work we all put into it. I sat with Hamdy a few weeks ago and watched some of the out-takes and behind the scenes footage and it was great to see that even on the long and tiring days cast and crew were still having fun and enjoying the experience.

Is there anything about you that fans would be interested in knowing?

To be honest I’m a pretty normal guy, I like movies, I’m crazy about video games and am definitely at my happiest when I’m at home with Nikki (Wife) and my Dog Milo.  I’m a strict vegetarian and have a real soft spot for all animals. I’ve got a tattoo of Milo on my chest, much to the amusement of some of my friends. Milo actually makes an appearance in ‘On the Ropes’, I had a pocket full of treats so I could bribe him to behave on set. It worked for about 10 minutes.

How do you interact with your fans?

A fansite ( forward a lot of emails and to me and I always try to send personal replies wherever I can. It’s great receiving feedback from people who have an appreciation for what you do and occasionally I get to meet a few at various film events etc. Recently I’ve had some lovely letters expressing excitement for the release of ‘On the Ropes’ which is truly appreciated. I’m not into the social networking thing though; I don’t twitter which seems to be extremely popular. My friends continually give me grief for not being on Facebook but I’ve managed to avoid it so far.

What can you tell me about future projects?

I’ve some really good projects to look forward to and it’s a real privilege to be so busy. Next month I’m filming a pilot episode of a new comedy series called ‘This is Dover’ which has been written by Lindsay Honey. Lindsay sent me the script a while back and he is a very good writer and certainly excels with comedy.

I’m also working on a new movie called ‘Shaniqua’ which I wrote the screenplay for, the concept was created nearly a year ago and Emma Louise Cargill plays the lead role. Emma is a very talented actress and this will be a great showcase for her. Alongside that I’m working on ‘Gangs of Belgravia’ which I’m really excited about and the initial feedback from the script is extremely positive. Hamdy Taha will be co-directing ‘Shaniqua’ and ‘Gangs of Belgravia’ with me so it’s exciting to be working with him again. We built up a good relationship while working on ‘On the Ropes’ and his Frozen Echo Production team are all very hard working.

What can one do to become involved in one of your films?

With ‘On the Ropes’ we put out casting calls on various sites and through several agencies so the best way is to keep a look out and have a good show reel available. Most of the main cast were people I’d worked with on previous projects or recommended to me through people I trusted. For example, Raymond Griffiths was introduced through Warwick Davis who is a mutual friend.

We’ve built up a great team of both actors and crew and plan to working closely with each other on future projects. That doesn’t mean we’re not on the lookout for new talent though and welcoming new people to the team.

As an actor, what roles do you wish to portray?

For some reason I’m drawn to quirky roles which people wouldn’t expect me to play. For example, my role as Keith Kraft in ‘On the Ropes’ is so far removed from my real personality that getting into character was so much fun. When some of my family first spotted the trailer they couldn’t believe it was me.

For ‘Gangs of Belgravia’ and ‘Shaniqua’ my roles are very different again so it is going to raise new challenges but for me that is what makes performing so exciting. I’ve actually got to learn to dance for ‘Shaniqua’ so I’m well out of my comfort zone with that, also my Wife is a trained dancer so I’m certainly going to be getting some stick from her.

As a director, how difficult is it to manage a film?

It certainly has its challenges but is also very rewarding. Both as a director and producer the important part is working through the difficult times and putting in that extra effort when it probably isn’t as enjoyable. Occasionally it will feel like a real struggle to get anything done, but then you’ll suddenly turn a corner and it all feels worthwhile again. Unfortunately, some people give up at this point and this is why a lot of projects never get completed or see the light of day.

Many thanks for taking the time to interview me; it’s been a pleasure speaking with you.

Check out On The Ropes – click here

Interview by Kale Slade