Extremely Dangerous - Production Notes (1)

Last Update: 03 December 1999
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From Script to Screen

Extremely Dangerous was filmed in the summer of 1999 on locations Manchester and London. Producer Michael Foster explains the process of bringing the project from script to screen.

"I was approached by Nick Marston, Murray Smith's agent. I was a big fan because I know Murray's work from when he did Bulman and Strangers for Granada, and London Weekend Television' s Frederick Forsyth projects, and I knew that he was a man who really understood structure and plot.

"Nick gave me a five page synopsis that I kind of read there and then, which was the opening sequence of the programme - a train travelling through the night, a man on it, under guard, who jumps from the train, and became a fugitive from justice, trying to seek to clear his name from the brutal murder of his wife and child.

"I found it intriguing, and I talked with Murray straight away. We both agreed that it was a perfect vehicle for Sean, and a perfect vehicle for ITV. And because I had a good working relationship with Nick Elliott, as did Murray, we went to him and he asked us to write the first script.

"It was always going to be a finite four-part television series. In terms of what we are delivering, and what it's about, it would make a feature film and it could have been done that way. But I wanted to make a TV feature rather than a cinematic feature because I'd very much like my first venture as a producer to be seen by as wide an audience as possible, and, believe it or not, it's easier to gain an audience of 10 million people watching TV than it is to get them in cinemas."

And producer Malcolm Craddock adds:

"Well this is very much a project that Michael started off with Murray. As Michael hadn't been involved directly in production before, he asked me to come on board, to be his partner to make it together, and it's all worked out very well. After all, we've worked together a lot over the years, particularly over Sharpe, as Michael was Sean's agent for the five years that we made it.

"And it was quiet fun to initiate Michael a little bit into the joys of producing, now that he's not on the other end of representing the leading actor! He's an exciting and dynamic person to work with, while I'm a pretty steady influence. I think both of us have enjoyed ourselves and made a pretty good team.

"I think Sallie is a star! We're all delighted at how the production looks, at the style of it, the pace of it. Sallie has brought a lot of energy and pace to it. I don't think we ever thought of this as a feature film. We just told Sallie to go for it, and make it cinematic and wide-screen. I do think Extremely Dangerous has a lot of filmic quality to it, but it also has time to get to know the characters, because you can't expect audiences to sit in a cinema for four straight hours."

Director Sallie Aprahamian described working with the co-producers:

"I think they're both very different, but very complementary. I have to say that above all they were a very empowering pair of producers to work with, and as individuals too. They wouldn't hold back from telling me what they felt, but there's never a 'You must' or 'Don't!' from either. It was an active collaboration, with a huge learning curve for Michael, as a first time producer, and a huge learning curve for me - I've never done a project like this. They were both very supportive and let me get on with my bits.

"There was a sense of pragmatism in my approach. I wanted it to feel like it belonged in the Nineties, and not in the Seventies, which it could have, with the type of humour in it. I also know that we had to be pragmatic from the word go, as we had to film it in a very short period of time. I also like to use a lot of long-lens shooting - which I think that if you want to get into the actor's personal space, very tight in, you use. Long lens gives an enormous feeling of edginess, not only because it's such a challenge to the focus puller! And I'm not someone who likes to rehearse a scene 800 times before you shoot it because I think you lose some of the spontaneity in the shot. And we didn't have that sort of time! So I immediately knew that would be an aspect of the style."

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