31st May2018

Interview: Director Evandro Rosolen & comedian Dave Griffiths on documentary ‘King Cnut’

by Philip Rogers

King Cnut is a new documentary from director Evandro Rosolen, which details how comedian Dave Griffiths fought against the fashion industry giants French Connections for the right to sell his own t-shirt brand Cnut. King Cnut was selected to play at the Southend Film Festival on Saturday 26th May and after the screening I got a chance to chat with Evandro Rosolen and Dave Griffiths about the film…


We are here today at the Southend Film Festival with the opening film King Cnut. How did the film first come about between the two of you?

Evandro – Dave is a stand-up comedian and turned what had happened to him into a show. I went to see him because I knew someone who was going to the show. He called me and said I am going to a new show did you want to see it. I had never heard of Dave, but I had heard of French Connection. So, I went to see it to support my friend really and I thought this was incredible. If you made it up It would be too good to be true. So, I got hold of Dave and I said we need to talk about making this into a film and you had conversation with people before, didn’t you?

Dave – Yeah, we had a few people who had shown interest and I had a couple of film companies, but they say a lot, but it takes year and you need to get the funding or whatever. People talk the talk, but Evandro just said right let’s get some crowdfunding, get that and see how that goes. People were very positive to it they liked the story and we would like to get this out there so people can see this David and Goliath fight, and here we are. We raised six thousand pounds

Evandro – A no budget film

Dave – Very low (laughs) we were expecting to get more, so we cut out make up we cut out every single light and just went and made it anyway.

Evandro – Everything we could cut out we did.

How long did it take to complete the documentary?

Evandro – 10 months

Dave – 10 months?

Evandro – We shot for 10 months. Obviously, there was a research period before that which went on for quite a few months. I think I wanted to learn more about Dave and the story. I think we wanted to get to know each other

Dave – You say 10 months, I thought it was about four years (laughs)

Evandro – Then I edited the film myself as a non-editor, but we couldn’t really afford an editor. Especially on a documentary where you have to get somebody involved really early on and they have to know the story as well as you do. So, I said look I am just going to learn to edit it myself.

Dave – He had to move back in with his mum, give up all work and do it, for three months, four months.

Evandro -I said I am not going to work for as long as it takes to cut the film, can I come back home. She was like absolutely, yeah, you have your room here waiting for you. It took 4 months editing the film

Dave – All the way back in Brazil

Evandro – Yeah, I went back to Brazil to edit the film

Did the documentary change at all during the filming process?

Evandro – It did change, obviously we had the show as the basis, so the concept was always the same; but for instance, the creator of FCUK concept, we didn’t know him. He heard about it, contacted us and said, “I heard you guys are making a film, I heard that this guy Dave has a show” and everything else. So, that was incorporated into the film. Also, Dave’s show doesn’t talk about his obsessive personality

Dave – I only do the positive bits obviously (Laughs)

Evandro – Obviously I felt that when I met Dave this really only happened because you have that element to you

Dave – I had a doctor specialist who came to one of my shows and he said, “If you had come to me years ago I would have diagnosed you with OCD and you would have needed some treatment.” So, I was like “Oh great, thank did you enjoy the show?”

Also, we filmed a lot more of other sections. We tried things, we did a thing about zombies. At one of my shows a woman came up to me and said, “Oh you would be great for a role in Band of Brothers (2001). I’ve got a cousin, I don’t know if you have heard of him Damien Lewis? He is the ginger haired bloke in Homeland (2011-2014). Well he is a third cousin, I always promote him, but I have never actually met him. I am hoping if I stalk him enough he will come and see me. So, he was in Band of Brothers, I knew this, and she wanted a role for Band of Brothers and she said, “You would be perfect”. I thought perfect, I will be a GI and I get to meet my cousin. She came up to me after the show and went, “I have this brilliant role, it’s as a prisoner of war in a concentration camp”. That was the role which she thought I looked good for, that was my role. Then she offered me a zombie role, because she thought I would look good as a zombie. We did bits and we done a whole thing on my bravery award, but that got cut out.

Evandro – Dave got a bravery award once. But the original cut was about 20 minutes longer, but we felt it was a bit too much Dave orientated. It was meant to be a film about his fight against French Connection, more so than about you [Dave], so we cut a lot out.

I do have one question about the t-shirts you collect for French Connection. How many t-shirts do you think you have got in your collection so far?

Dave – 200, at least! With ‘W.N.A.K’ there was a t-shirt, but there was a hoodie as well

Evandro – And a lot of repeats

Dave – A lot of repeats because I would forget that I bought them, so I would buy them again. Also, I have got different colours, then there are different types. I wanted everything! I did a law lecture at the University of Westminster and they want to do a little expedition of all the t-shirts in a room with the film playing in the background. Hopefully they will have some use, because I live at home and my mother is fed up because there is like 20 boxes

Evandro – No one has bought more from French Connection

Dave – Nobody has bought any more I am there best customer

Is the film playing to any more festivals or where can they see the film?

Evandro – The film has been picked up for distribution a little while ago, so it is available on platforms such as iTunes, Amazon, Steam, Google Play, Microsoft. In the US, because the distributors are American it is on a few cable tv networks. You can get it online in a few different places

Dave – We’ve done Tallinn which is the Estonia Film Festival. We done all the big ones, Streatham, Southend-on-Sea, we have done four, what the other one?

Evandro -We met Southend-on-Sea people at an industry only event called the London Screenings and we were the only documentary there.

Dave – The London Screenings were great for us, because it was the one place where suddenly we got a distributor because it was at the BFI and they were American. So, seeing something at the British Film Institute they suddenly went ah! It was sent it out before, no one was interested, and they didn’t even want to watch it, but once you had BFI, they suddenly went we will look at this.

Evandro – And we met Paul [Cotgrove] from the Southend Film Festival.

Dave – That right, also Evandro you put it forward to loads of places.

Evandro – That’s right, when you are looking you go everywhere. It’s a lot of no’s and then one yes! We got a lot of offers in the end, we had to choose.

Dave – They don’t pay us any money yet, but you get a commission on how many downloads when they watch it. Also, if someone doesn’t watch the whole thing on something like Amazon they know, so you only get that amount of commission, it is very carefully regulated.

Evandro – Currently we have no festivals, so anyone who wants to see the film you have to go online to watch it, although it is easy to find. The website lists where the film is available in the UK.

Obviously, you went through this process taking on French Connection UK, that was your goal at the time have you now move onto anything else?

Dave – All I am doing now, people have seen the film or read about it and they contact me as a trademark expert. So, I have been going to the IPO office in London several times helping a chap who has Bentley Clothing against Bentley Motors. They’re saying that they own the clothing even though he has the trademark for the clothing, they realised that it’s a huge marketing thing. They are making huge money now these companies from other aspects. Like Family Guy (1998 -) which was brought back because people were buying products. That’s what Bentley see, so they have been bullying Bentley Clothing which is a very established, damaging their reputation and trying to get the trademark back. I am also helping No Fixed Abode against Versace, they have a trademark of the knocker with the lion. I am advising quite a lot of people all the time.

Evandro – Even before the film people were approaching you already, because you have become an expert.

Dave – I can give quite good advice. I have written a letter to Zara Clothing against a woman called Zara Creations. It was a silversmith and the only product that she had ever sold was to Zara to check whether she used her own name on the letter. Then said stop because you are using your own name. When you see all these, I could be doing it full time, but of course these people have got no money. So, my time is free to anybody that needs help, because I know what its like being in that situation when you have no money fighting. If I see there is an underdog I am happy to help

Dave – Call Dave! Because my time is not free (Laughs)

For yourself [Evandro] following the documentary do you have anything else going forwards?

Evandro – Yes, I am not a documentarian first of all, it just happened.

Dave – You were making music videos before

Evandro – I was going down that route, music videos and short films, promo’s and things like that, but you are always looking for your first feature. So, Dave happened. I saw it and I got obsessed about it. I got obsessed about the story and I felt that I needed to learn more, so here we are. Now that the film has opened a few doors here and there in the US I am in conversations with the companies about what I am going to do next, hopefully I will be shooting next year.

One final question, if someone is looking to make their own documentary, what advice would you give them?

Evandro – Don’t! (laughs)

Dave – Yeah it is hard work! The funny think is, we were at the London Screenings, at the BFI. There were three other really good film, which were narrative. They all came to us and said “Jesus we will never make a documentary. Because they have got a plan which goes from the beginning to the end, with the documentary you have to be very organised. You are going all over the place and people don’t turn up.

Evandro – Anyone working in film, whatever it is you want to do in film, you have to be obsessed about it one way or the other. Otherwise what’s the point.

Dave – Also, the biggest tip is making people feel comfortable, because once you ask a question it is quite nerve racking and they close up, so you really want to make people feel comfortable and relaxed. Like you done today I am glad to say. (laughs) Because as soon as you put the pressure, because they have a soundman, a camera and at least one of each. The main thing is to organise it, so if you are going to Southend and you have someone on the way, organise it all the time so you do the interviews on route.

Evandro – I think it starts with finding a story that you understand and can connect with people. I would like to say you have to be a bit pragmatic about it, does this connect with people? Does this work? Does it have a market? Are people actually going to want to see this? So, if you have got that and you are obsessed about it, this is something I can’t stop thinking about, you just have to be as organised as you possibly can.

The one about McDonalds, Supersize Me (2004). That was kind of made like that (clicks his fingers), it wasn’t properly organised. It was one chap, but it was spontaneous, it was entertaining, I really felt for that. I have watched nearly every documentary on Netflix and Amazon Prime. It is interesting how they keep you going, you need to keep going and try not dip, get that story across with crescendos at the end and go hooray! Hopefully.

You can find out more about King Cnut and where to watch the film on the website: https://www.kingcnutmovie.com/



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