You wrote, directed, and starred in Special Correspondents. What’s your secret to staying sane while doing everything?
I don’t think I am sane. I’ve reached the point now where I don’t care if I’m sane or not, because as long as I’m happy it doesn’t matter. I see lots of mad people that seem really happy [laughs]. I remember once, Christopher Guest said, “How will we know whether we’ve lost it or not?” And I said, “Who cares?” And he laughed.
How do you keep from stressing out then?
You don’t. You get stressed out of your head with all the pressures and can’t wait for it to be over. Last year was the maddest year I’ve ever had in my career. I’ve been working on that film for two or three years, but I was going to do the David Brent movie first. Then suddenly, after three years of puttering around doing Derek and writing two films in various states of production, we get the call to make Special Correspondents. I had to film it, and I had to deliver it on the 9th of November, but I started filming Brent on the 6th of November so as to finish it before Christmas for the BBC. It’s just crazy finishing one movie whilst another is in preproduction. Doing two movies at once is proper mental.
How did you enjoy working with Netflix on the movie?
It’s very interesting, I think, how it’s going to change the genre. Up to know, all they’ve done is pander to the way people watch stuff, i.e., binge-watching. But I think an unseen upshot of this will be the return of the auteur.
How do you mean?
Originally Special Correspondents was a studio film. When I sent the script out, we had lots of offers and we actually went with someone. Then Netflix heard about it and said, “We’ll buy it out. We’ll buy them out. We’ll buy you out. We’ll give you a guaranteed backend of what it might make at the cinema.” It was a crazy no-brainer for me. I get final edit, but then I don’t have to worry about keeping it in cinemas.
I’m sure that’s easier with Netflix than with a studio.
At the moment, Hollywood is superhero films and franchises, Marvel comics, things I’ve never heard of. What was Hollywood is now Sundance and Tribeca. I think Netflix is going to be an alternative to that. You make the film you want. It doesn’t get a week in the cinema and then no one sees it; it gets two years on Netflix and everyone might as well watch it, because they’ve paid for it and it’s a new movie. They like it or they don’t, but that’s a lot of people.
What are your thoughts on The Office now that you’ve had a decade to move on from it and do other things?
Oh, I’ve got a fondness for it for many reasons. I’m very proud of it, because it’s certainly the thing that made my career easier. Once I demanded final edit for that, and the awards came in, I was left alone forever [by producers]. I have nothing but affection for it.