Five Fun Facts About Come To Daddy
Come to Daddy, a darkly comedic thriller starring Elijah Wood, marks the directorial debut of acclaimed producer Ant Timpson (The ABCs of Death 1 &2, The Greasy Strangler, Deathgasm, Housebound). The film has been a festival circuit favorite and will celebrate its Texas premiere at Fantastic Fest in the coming weeks.
It’s definitely one we’re very eager to check out, so we’re celebrating the upcoming premiere by delivering a few fun facts about the film and its production, which we’ve pulled from its meaty press kit.
Film Synopsis: ”A sincere invitation sends 30-something Norval to his estranged father’s remote coastal cabin with hopes of reconciliation. Hope turns to panic, as he uncovers his father’s shady past and is forced to face his inherited demons.”
The story has bizarre origins.
“I don’t think I would have jumped into the [director’s] seat on any other project,” Ant Timpson says, “because it was kind of initiated from my father’s passing. So it wasn’t like I was sitting around reading a bunch of scripts, deciding on which one to pursue. It was really driven by an epiphany after Dad dying, and just thinking, ‘Oh my God, life’s short. Get your act together.’”
The passing of a parent is already life-changing enough under normal circumstances, but Timpson experienced the loss in a rather more unusual way. “My dad’s partner thought it’d be a good idea to bring the body back after embalmment to spend some time with the grieving family,” Timpson recalls. “And then I ended up living with my father’s corpse for a week in his house.” For much of the week, Timpson was alone in the house with the body resting in an open coffin, as he slept in his father’s bed and wore his clothes. Strangers came and went, paying their respects to a man who sounded nothing like the man Timpson knew. “They spoke about their shared past with him and mentioned faraway places and strange anecdotes – stories from people I had never heard of. It seemed to me like they were talking about someone else.”
“As sons, we always have unfinished business with our fathers. So I thought, ‘What would happen if that unfinished business came looking for us?’”
It’s a tribute to 70s cinema.
Psychologically-driven chamber piece films, often out of the UK in the ‘60s and ‘70s, are all part of the film’s narrative DNA, including Sleuth (“for the cat & mouse twists), Glazer’s 2000 film Sexy Beast (“for the jarring lead antagonist and turns from comedy to violence”), Losey’s 1963 thriller The Servant (“for the mindgames with those we’re inavoidably [sic] linked with”), Friedkin’s 1968 adaptation of Harold Pinter’s The Birthday Party (“for the pitch-black comedy of menace”), and Peckinpah’s 1971 masterpiece Straw Dogs (“for the simmering violence awakened in the lead”).
“The film is a tribute to the type of cinema I loved and watched with my father, growing up in the 1970s,” Timpson explains. “Gritty, character-based thrillers that were literate and laced with pitch-black humor, films driven by tough-guy actors like Gene Hackman, Robert Shaw and Oliver Reed. Toby [Harvard, the screenwriter] created a Pinter-esque tale that will immediately draw in viewers, but then playfully keeps switching gears on them. Just when they have a handle on everything, we chicane again.”
Its straightforward narrative allowed editor Dan Kircher to “light a few fires.”
As this would be Timpson’s first time in the director’s chair, he “definitely didn’t want a film that I needed to create or find in the edit. I knew I’d feel more comfortable with a simple, linear narrative as pretty much the finished film.”
When it came time to cut the film, Timpson's desire for a "simple, linear narrative" made editor Dan Kircher's job a little easier – and a lot more fun.
"This was actually the first film I’ve cut where they truly shot the script,” Kircher says. “There was no 'finding it on the day' – it was shot methodically, classically, beautifully. As a result, there wasn’t really any 'finding it' in the edit, either. The movie was always resolutely itself. This was a revelation. It meant we never had to spend days or weeks trying to fill plot holes or repurpose scenes. Instead, we were very quickly into the subtleties, the minute, intricate, intangible touches – the fun stuff. Sometimes cutting a movie means every iota of your energy goes into reinventing, finding it, putting out fires; this time around I could use that energy to light a few fires, instead.”
Due to an accident that happened on set, Ant Timpson has to direct like Cecil B. DeMille for awhile.
The film’s location was surrounded by rocky terrain, and both Wood and Timpson managed to injure themselves during the course of the production.
“Elijah [Wood] and I both broke our ankles during the shoot, which is not recommended,” Timpson says. “So for quite a while, I was in a chair with a megaphone, actually. The sound department gave me a mic and put speakers on the camera, so I’d be communicating to the actors like that, which for a first-time director, that’s like going back to the Cecil B. DeMille days, yelling through the old megaphone.”
There was a lot of serendipity that touched the production.
Come to Daddy was filmed in a stunning, stilted house overlooking the sea and backdropped by forest and beach in the tiny town of Tofino, on the west coast of Vancouver Island. The home and adjacent hotel, the Wickannish Inn, are owned by the McDiarmid family, which producer Mette-Marie Kongsved discovered had an emotional backstory that made it even more perfect for the film.
“We went and met with [the McDiarmids] and learned a little bit more about the history of that cabin, which actually turned out to be a father and son cabin.” McDiarmid had built the cabin with his father after moving to the area in 1955. “They built it together, with their bare hands, designed to be a place where father and son and family could go be together,” Kongsved says. “So when we pitched him the movie, we of course let him know that this was very much a father and son story, and even though it draws pretty freely on what actually happened, that the very core of our movie came from a son’s love for his dad, and their relationship, and everything that entails. So there was just a connection there immediately.”
And there was one more small bit of kismet that touched the production:
“So I wanted a chess set in the film,” Timpson says. When he was a child, his father gave him one, and Timpson wanted Brian and Norval to share a chess set in COME TO DADDY. He sent the production design department hunting across Vancouver to find a set, giving them no more detailed instructions than “nothing boring, please.” The night before the shoot began, Timpson surveyed the set, and “it looks incredible. I then see the chess set. My brain pulls a handbrake. It’s the same chess set my dad had bought me when I was a kid. Like exactly the same.” Timpson avers that this is no ordinary chess set, one that you’d expect to find at any game store. “I’ve never seen another one like it,” he says.
“I’m the biggest skeptic around, but I got chills about this – but then it turned from chilly to warmth, and it felt like a sign from my pops that all was going to be okay.”
What do you think? Are you stoked for the film? We want to know. Share your thoughts and feelings in the comments section below, and as always, remember to viddy well!