Brit finds fast funds to support challenging pic project
Name: Mark Herber
Breakthrough pics: “My Wrongs,” “Dead Man’s Shoes.”
What I learned the hard way: “If you want to make a lot of money in movies, don’t be a producer, get in as a gaffer. Have you seen the kind of cars they drive?”
There was no script, not even a clear idea what the film would be about, and maverick auteur Shane Meadows was coming off a couple of commercial flops.
But it took rookie producer Mark Herbert just two days to raise the $1.4 million Meadows needed to make his next movie.
Starring Paddy Considine, this turned out to be “Dead Man’s Shoes,” a pitch-black take of revenge and brotherly love that was created through workshops and only settled on its final storyline during shooting.
“We knew where we were going to be and who was going to be in each scene. We just
didn’t have the dialogue,” Herbert says.
If being a producer is about hooking up with extraordinary talent and making difficult things happen for them, then Herbert, managing director of Sheffield-based Warp Films, has what it takes.
“Mark Herbert has got more energy for filmmaking than a Tasmanian devil,” testifies Meadows. “He is the first producer I have worked with that has given his creative input without ever treading on my very small feet. He is a wonderful producer and a great friend.”
Warp Films is an offshoot of the achingly hip music label Warp Records. Its cultish, experimental slate includes movie projects with superstar musicvid helmer Chris Cunningham and subversive satirist Chris Morris, plus more from Meadows and his co-writer Paul Fraser. Warp’s first production, the surreal short “My Wrongs” directed by Morris and starring Considine, won a BAFTA last year.
“The ambition isn’t to make conventional projects,” Herbert says. “I’m interested in more authored pieces of work. It’s not commercially driven. If you start to make things you think will pull people in, I think you’re losing people from day one.”
Warp’s base in northern England gives it access to regional funding and helps maintain a certain clarity of vision. “You’re seeing things on their merits, not influenced by what other people like, what’s fashionable,” Herbert says.
His regular visits to London are dedicated to getting things done. “He does nothing by the book,” says Jodi Shields, who reps Meadows. “At first we thought he was off the wall, but 48 hours later he had a film financed for Shane.
“He’s so personable, you just completely trust him to deliver, and he’s very well connected,” Shields adds.
Prior to joining Warp two years ago, Herbert produced Peter Kay’s ground-breaking sitcom “Phoenix Nights.”
He started out as a location manager on Northern movies including “Brassed Off” and “Little Voice.”