An interview with David Evans Director of Fever Pitch (15)

We are re-showing Fever Pitch (15) at The Courtyard on Sunday 30 September & Monday 1 October and to celebrate we interviewed David Evans the Director.

How did Fever Pitch come about?
I was working at the BBC as a documentary producer in the music and arts department. I was making a film about the Royal Shakespeare Company, my Production Assistant said “your sense of humour really reminds me a lot of a book that my best friend let me read.” Her friend was a book editor and the book she was reading was the unpublished Fever Pitch. She thought I would like it so much that she gave it to me on pieces of A4 paper.

Of course I just completely loved it and it turned out that Nick Hornby (Writer) lived very close to me. I spoke to him to see if he was interested and then made a piece for a BBC documentary strand called ‘The Late show’ which was a 15 minute film that included dramatic reconstruction and readings from the book. We became very friendly and that is when I really thought ‘This would make a great feature film’. When the book was successful enough for people to start showing interest we just said lets go, let’s try and make it work.

How did Fever Pitch impact your career?
Not really at all if I am honest. I had just started making television drama and that was what carried on irrespectively. They are two quite different worlds.

What is the difference with working on TV to Film?
It was more the people are different and the production companies you are dealing with are different. Actually being on set is very similar, certainly for a low budget British film like Fever Pitch. The most costly thing is spending time getting something right. Fever Pitch was shot in just over 6 weeks so it is not that different to a TV production.

How has working on TV changed over time?
I think the biggest difference is there is so much of it now. In the 90’s, when we made Fever Pitch, I remember thinking with all the new technology that was coming on the screen and people having personal video cameras for the first time, would there really be drama like this made in 20 years? Am I really going to have a career out of this as surely everyone will be making their own films and nobody will be interested in turning on the telly and watching drama with a big budget? In fact the opposite has happened. With the likes of streaming websites, there is more drama now than anybody can actually watch.
Technically speaking the only change that would have made a difference to Fever Pitch would have been the ease of CGI and digitally manipulating images. On Fever Pitch the only thing we had to worry about were the composite shots where we were trying to make believe we were in Highbury in the flash back sequences, but of course, Highbury didn’t exist in that form even then. They were some computer assisted graphics that were hideously expensive to do at the time and now you can just do it without thinking.

Most television shows that I work on now have been more ambitious digitally than we ever were on Fever Pitch.

David Evans, Fever Pitch

How did you find people in general responded to a football film?

I don’t think people like football films that much. They are not really a very successful genre and if I were to describe the subject of Fever Pitch (it would be) as being more about fandom than football.

Simon remembers Colin Firth wasn’t the first choice for the leading role?
It wasn’t that he wasn’t the first choice it’s more that there were other people in the mix. Steve Coogan was considered instead of Colin and this was before Steve had done any straight acting roles, back when he was new to the scene. The likelihood is that it would have made it into a much broader comedy.
The thing about Nick’s writing, particularly Fever Pitch, is that as a writer he did a lot to rehabilitate the idea of a football fan to having more between their ears than the slightly thuggish caricature that there had been before. I think there is a general feeling that having Steve Coogan play the role could have undermined that romantic part of a romantic comedy. So we ended up going with someone like Colin who was coming hot off the success of Pride and Prejudice and was very much everyone’s idea of a romantic lead.

We are showing Fever Pitch in the lead up to our Production The Goal, do you remember Ronnie Radford’s Goal in 1972?
I think I remember seeing it on Match of the Day, I think if it’s not the first then it is one of the first commentary’s that John Motson did. I remember that as he got so over excited when the goal went in. I also remember that pitch was incredibly muddy. Beautiful stuff, great goal.

Is it true that your daughter was in Fever Pitch?
Yes she is the baby that Colin lifts up at the end. She’s 23 now and is a teacher so it has gone full circle, she’s like the teacher in Fever Pitch instead of the baby. There are quite a lot of my friends and family actually in it. My wife is in the scene where Colin sets light to the napkin in the restaurant and my oldest friend Neil was standing at the side of the football pitch during one of the school games.

David is currently working on a series for BBC 1 called Gold-digger.

FEVER PITCH (15) will be in The Courtyard’s Studio on Sunday 30 September and Monday 1 October. To book tickets for Fever Pitch click here, or for more information contact the Box Office on 01432 340555.

This is running along side our production The Goal on Monday 1 – Saturday 13 October. To book tickets to The Goal click here.