New tune for director Michael Caton-Jones in Urban Hymn


Urban Hymn director Michael Caton-Jones.
Urban Hymn director Michael Caton-Jones.

NOT many directors like to talk about the dud films on their resume, but Michael Caton-Jones has always been open about his.

Caton-Jones disappeared from the big screen for 10 years after delivering 2005’s bomb Basic Instinct 2, which tanked at the box office and was mauled by critics.

He admitted the experience working on the studio film was “painful” and forced him to reassess his career, dabbling in television in the meantime before finding the right script.

Caton-Jones has hopped back on the horse with Urban Hymn, about a troubled teenage girl caught up in delinquency discovering her singing voice and place in the world during the 2011 UK riots.

Speaking to Community Newspaper Group from New York, where he was on location scouting for a new, unannounced film, Caton-Jones opened up about the ups and downs of his career.

“(Basic Instinct 2) was a painful experience; it was what it was (but) I didn’t want to do that anymore for a while,” he said.

“After a period of reflection, I still liked film, but not in the studio machine which is uncreative.

“What that gap did was point me in a direction of what I wanted to do.”

After creating predominantly masculine-driven films such as This Boy’s Life (1993), Rob Roy (1995) and The Jackal (1997), was it the feminine quality that drew him to Urban Hymn?

“Not necessarily. I am gender-blind; it makes no difference to me what the gender of the characters are,” he said.

“I come from Scotland which has strong capable women and can do the things that men can do, even better.”

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It was the challenge of the musical element that piqued his interest.

“My knowledge of music is as a fan; I don’t play any instruments,” Caton-Jones said.

“The film is about the power of music. This isn’t about winning X-Factor, so I believe everyone can relate to it.

“Unlike something like Moulin Rouge, I wanted the situation to be natural, people singing to themselves.

“The music was a technical challenge, having to find the music before we started filming. Usually you have the luxury of having the finished picture in front of you before you do the music.”

The experience could open the door to grander musical films.

“I would do a full-blown musical, I like the discipline,” he said.

“It is just like working a different muscle… being a director is like being a pentathlon, you don’t just focus on one thing.”

Urban Hymn screens as part of the British Film Festival at Cinema Paradiso, Luna SX and The Windsor from October 27 to November 16.