U .S. sitcom director Andy Cadiff found it easy to tune into the outsider vibe when shooting “A Bunch of Amateurs,” a comedy about a washed-up American action star (played by Burt Reynolds) who is stranded in a rural English village.
Cadiff came to shoot the movie in the Isle of Man and the picturesque Oxfordshire village of Hambledon.
“I was looking for all the little touches and details that would deliver that charm and quaintness that I am drawn to in British films, and hoping that it wouldn’t feel cliched,” he explains. “But if you’re doing a film about an American fish out of water in the boonies, you can’t shy away from that stuff.”
Yet Cadiff says his British colleagues were equally entranced by the bucolic English surroundings into which he was plunged.
“Sometimes I would stop and say, ‘Am I the only one that finds this so cute and charming?’ and they would say, ‘No, we do too.’ I mean, the actors and the crew don’t live in a village like Hambledon either.”
The biggest difference he found from working in the U.S. was the sense of teamwork.
“It’s a union thing,” he says. “There’s much more of a feeling of cooperation and selflessness in the U.K. If a job needs to be done, whoever is nearby will step in and do it. There isn’t that thing of ‘don’t touch my props, don’t touch my light, don’t touch my camera.’ The feeling is, we’re making this film together.”
He ascribes that sense of cooperation partly to the fact British crews don’t get paid overtime, which concentrates their minds on getting things done as efficiently as possible: “In the U.S., it’s almost a given that you’ll go into overtime, and many U.S. crews look forward to it. But in the U.K., it’s really not preferable to do it. It means that from the time you get on set, the crew works their tail off.
“I had nothing but good experiences in Britain,” Cadiff concludes. “The work experience, the work ethic, the cooperation, the good nature, the fun.”
There was only one drawback. “There are a lot of restrictions on locations,” he says. “You can’t stop traffic; you can only ask traffic to stop. Everything is done out of courtesy. It’s very hard to shoot in London — we shot in Bond Street, and it was catch as catch can; it was guerrilla filmmaking.”
But why was he in Bond Street at all? Because London’s ritziest parade of designer shops was doubling for a scene in Beverly Hills, where Cadiff couldn’t afford to shoot. So Blighty is not that far from home after all.