Suzanne Baum talks to film producer Gary Sinyor about his latest movie, United We Fall, which is released this week in cinemas nationwide.
Living in a household of four boys, there’s no getting away from the world of football.
However, as much as I have absolutely no interest in the sport, there was something rather amusing in suggesting that the five of us sit down together to watch a film about football… all in the name of work of course!
For someone who has no understanding of the game, the fact I sat through and enjoyed the film will no doubt be good news for producer Gary Sinyor, who hopes women won’t be put off by the storyline.
“It’s not a film just about football,” Sinyor is keen to point out. “It is a light-hearted improvised comedy poking fun at the game and everything else that comes with it; politics, Wags, match fixing, affairs and so on. I hope it is going to appeal to everyone.”
United We Fall is 52-year-old Sinyor’s eighth movie and one he hopes will be even more successful than his debut film, Leon the Pig Farmer.
“When I made Leon over 20 years ago it was great to see the success that came with it. But two decades on the industry is just as tough to work in,” he reflects.
“What has a made a significant difference with this film is that having great young actors and an excellent editing team makes the entire process a lot easier. Unlike Leon, which was quite an English film, I hope this will be universally accepted. Hopefully everyone is going to enjoy a movie that pokes fun at footballers.”
Inspired by last year’s much-acclaimed film Class of 92 – that chronicled the meteoric rise of Manchester United footballers David Beckham, Nicky Butt, Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes and Phil and Gary Neville – Sinyor felt there was another side to the story that needed to be told.
“I’m friends with the guys who made Class of 92, but after watching it I thought, ‘hang on a minute, there is a whole other world that comes with the sport that needs to be written about’. It’s not all about the rich lifestyles and beautiful women. We all know about the ugly side of football so I wanted to put that across in a humorous way.”
The film focuses on five ex-Manchester United players who failed to make history in their final three games of the season.
“It looks at how their failure occurred and brings the five former friends back together, to try to pinpoint exactly where it all went wrong.”
After approaching a few actors that he knew, Sinyor – a Manchester City fan – held several meetings at his Finchley home to brainstorm the idea.
“The film just snowballed from there,” he explained. “I had a great cast who I gave ‘stereotypical’ characters too and then I gave walk-on parts to my 13-year-old son Jonathan and baby Daniel, who was just eight months at the time; What other baby could I easily stick a tattoo on!”
Funding the film was easier than Sinyor imagined, with friends and contacts willing to support the £150,000 budget. “It only took me three weeks to raise the money so I’m very grateful to those who invested,” said Sinyor. “It’s rather amusing that they just so happen to be made up of Liverpool and Manchester City fans.”
Sinyor is the first to admit this is not a highbrow film, suggesting it is the type of movie that could be screened on a short-haul flight.
“I purposely made it 90 minutes long as I didn’t want to draw the story out. It’s just a very easy film to go and see and have a laugh at. There aren’t many funny films on release in cinemas at the moment so hopefully this will be well received.”
The movie, which took Sinyor just six days to film, is shot in houses in north London, including the actors’ homes.
One of the most memorable scenes takes place on a boat in Spain. Sinyor recalls: “Spending a day in Spain with the cast was amazing as they are such a laugh to work with. They don’t take themselves too seriously, which is why they suit their characters so well.”
Creating an improvised film proved quite a challenge for Sinyor, as he wasn’t sure how the characters would interpret the scenes.
He needn’t have worried, as the characters and their personalities shine through on the screen.
“The hardest part of the filming was the reunion lunch, which takes place towards the the end of the film,” explained Sinyor.
“Being a work of improvisation, having 10 people in a scene was tricky as I didn’t want them talking over each other but it made it all the more real.
“There is lots of bickering and fighting as secrets get revealed around the dining room table, affairs are admitted and all hell breaks loose.
“By this point in the story I hope the audience will have engaged with the characters so they can enjoy watching what happens to them as the story evolves.”
With the film released nationwide this week, it is an exciting time for Sinyor, who is a member of Kinloss Synagogue, as well as the New North London.
His footballers may be portrayed as failures in the film, but Sinyor himself is most certainly on a winning streak.
• United We Fall is being released in cinemas around the country on 17 October