Page last updated at 09:10 GMT, Monday, 26 April 2010 10:10 UK

Alice Creed gives kidnap genre a twist

Gemma Arterton in The Disappearance of Alice Creed
Gemma Arterton made Alice Creed after action adventure Prince of Persia

By Tim Masters
Entertainment correspondent, BBC News

The Disappearance of Alice Creed is not the most obvious film that one would expect Gemma Arterton to pick after her roles in blockbusters like Quantum of Solace and Clash of the Titans.

The low-budget thriller, shot entirely on the Isle of Man, has only three characters and most of the action takes place within two rooms.

Arterton plays a millionaire's daughter who is kidnapped and kept bound and gagged in an apartment that has been converted into a prison cell.

In the opening minutes, Arterton is stripped and handcuffed to a bed, with a hood over her head. In one scene, her character has to urinate into bottle while still tied up.

It's a role Arterton describes as a "10" on the scale of acting challenges.

Eddie Marsan (left) with director J Blakeson (right)
Alice Creed is director J Blakeson's (right) feature film debut

Alice Creed's abductors are ex-cons Vic (Eddie Marsan) and Danny (Martin Compston) who intend to extract a large ransom but not everything goes as planned.

Alice Creed was written and directed by first-time filmmaker J Blakeson.

North Yorkshire-born Blakeson studied film at Warwick University and sold his first feature screenplay, aged 24.

Blakeson, who co-wrote last year's horror sequel The Descent Part 2, put a polite note on the production notes to Alice Creed asking reviewers not to reveal the plot twists.

Here, he reveals the challenges of shooting Alice Creed's harrowing scenes, and how he found inspiration in some other movie classics.

You made a plea for secrecy over the plot twists - how are people sticking to it?

Mostly people are being quite gentlemanly about it. They are keeping things under wraps. Hopefully, the people who have seen it have enjoyed it.

Gemma Arterton in The Disappearance of Alice Creed
Arterton says her nude scenes were "completely appropriate in this film"

The BBFC rating says the film "contains very strong language, strong sex, violence and threat". That's some debut!

If you're going to come out of the gates you might as well come out of the gates full on. My mother's very proud of me.

The nudity, Gemma Arterton gagged and bound - were those daunting scenes for a first-time director?

When you write a script, you don't really think about the making of it - you're just in the story. And then you start thinking 'oh God, I'm going to have to film this!'

When we had the cast on board I could talk to them about how we were going to shoot it. They very much became collaborators rather than pawns to be moved around.

I was a bit daunted in casting the role of Alice because I didn't know why anyone would want to do it - it is a tough, very intense role.

So when Gemma walked in and read the script and loved it, it was an absolute gift.

Eddie Marsan (left) with Martin Compston (right)
The kidnappers are played by Eddie Marsan (left) and Martin Compston (right)

Did Gemma go with it from the word go? Did any scenes get toned down?

Oh yes, she threw herself at it. I never wanted it to feel like an exploitation movie. I didn't want to linger on anything any longer than I had to.

The way we've done it is quite stylistic, not gritty realism - which would have been even more intense. No, we didn't tone anything down at all.

Gemma and Martin and Eddie have all worked with experienced directors. How was it working with them?

It was my first feature, so I learnt a lot from all of them.

I was slightly daunted by working with Eddie because he'd worked with Martin Scorsese and Michael Mann, but he's a very professional actor and he had a lot of questions and I had all the answers.

If you're a director who knows what he wants and you've got actors who are very good, you have a good working relationship.

Did you seek inspiration from other movies set in one location?

I watched films like Panic Room and Repulsion by Polanski to see how people had treated the single set.

Some go for impressionistic, some for bold cinematic camera moves. But you absorb and forget them, because when you're there with a cinematographer in the room you just have to get the shot that's right for the script.

But I'm informed by all the films I watch, because I watch a lot of films.

What's next for you - writing or directing?

I'm writing another script for myself to direct at the moment. And I'm reading a lot of script that are landing in my inbox - to see if I can find anything that excites me.

What kind of thing are you writing?

I'm remaining very tight-lipped about it. Something a little bit bigger than this one!

The Disappearance of Alice Creed is out on 30 April.

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