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Goal! 2: Living The Dream... - Mike Jefferies interview

David Beckham in Goal! 2: Live The Dream...

Interview by Rob Carnevale

MIKE Jefferies, screenwriter and producer of Goal! 2: Living The Dream… talks about some of the challenges involved in the sequel and his hopes for the third and final part of the trilogy…

Q. What was the carrot that you dangled in order to get this co-operation from one of the world’s biggest football club?
A. Anna Friel [laughs]. When they knew that she was going to be a part of it and over in Madrid extensively, they were all very excited. Underpinning the entire project was Fifa’s support. They made it possible to feature real teams, real competitions and real players in the movie.

Liverpool didn’t want to do Goal 1, whereas Newcastle jumped in and seized the opportunity very passionately. At the premiere last night, for instance, I explained to the audience that I was recently driving down Sunset Boulevard and there were two landscapers pushing lawnmowers and wearing Newcastle United FC football shirts. I pulled over and asked them why on earth they were wearing them and it was because of the movie. They loved Kuno Becker and Santiago’s character.

So, in that respect Newcastle had a vision that this would do a huge amount of incremental marketing support for their brand in markets such as America and Asia. Real Madrid are as savvy as you can get in marketing terms and I went across to meet them and literally within half an hour of them hearing what we were doing we shook hands and an Aladdin’s Cave opened up in that regard.

Q. What makes you think the scenes in this film are as good, or better, than any other football film?
A: It really is a film that’s worthy of watching on the big screen. The DVD for Goal! did terrifically well. But Kuno’s character only really plays for Newcastle United in the last 10 minutes, so the action was fairly limited, as was the access. But in Goal! 2 he’s involved in the Real Madrid first team from the beginning and consequently because of the access that we got and because of the participation of the Real players Jaume [Collet-Serra, director] and the DP did the most incredible job in terms of the football action. I think as a sports movie it’ll stand up to any sports film made, from Raging Bull to Ali.

Q. How do you think Arsenal fans will react to the final scenes?
A. Well, I think Arsenal were fantastic. Even though what happens happens in the film, I think they’re represented in a very, very positive way. They’re shown to have a very honest, very exciting commitment to attacking football which is what they’re known for. So we were really delighted and privileged to have them participate in the way they did.

Q. How difficult is it to make a film when a lot of the crucial scenes aren’t actors?
A: We played to their strengths where we could. Most of the representation of the footballers is on the training pitch or the football pitch playing football. Quite often in that situation, particularly during the training ground scenes, we just let the cameras roll. Nobody gave anyone any brief. We just asked Kuno and Alessandro to get in there and become part of the team. And because the players loved Kuno and Alessandro very much they were just very happy to embrace them very warmly and include them.

Some of the footage we have of Kuno in the locker room kicking the ball around with Zidane, Roberto Carlos and David Beckham is just mind-blowingly incredible for me on a production value. I guess the main trick when they’re doing lines is to get them to do it in a responsive, driven fashion so they’re waiting for a cue. They were all tremendous.

Q. In Goal! 3 will David Beckham get to speak?
A: David was amazing. He had a cameo in Goal! 1 and in Goal! 2 he’s featured very extensively. I think the entire cast and crew owe him an enormous debt for bringing us such a degree of authenticity. He came back to the stadium in the wee hours in the freezing cold and enthusiastically did take after take. We were able to represent football in such an authentic way because he was involved. We’re very grateful to him.

Q. It seemed like the ink was barely dry on David Beckham’s new contract when a press release came round informing us that Santiago was going to be following in his footsteps… How fluid was that of the situation? And how easy was it to secure that deal?
A: We were very lucky. The plan was to have Goal 3 begin – certainly the first act – in the US, set against the backdrop of the MLS (Major League Soccer) and LA Galaxy was the team that we decided to go with because the landscape upon which the drama of Goal 3 flows is basically moving from Los Angeles to the World Cup in Germany. So it was like manner from heaven when we found out that David was in fact going to be joining the LA Galaxy and he was going to be there playing for them when we’d be filming. So it was great timing and a lot of luck.

Q. When is the third film going into production? And will there be some more new faces?
A: There’s definitely some new faces. One or two that are pretty integral to driving the plot, so I best not say too much. We’re in the process of finishing off the script for Goal! 3. But in terms of production we’ll be hoping to get shooting around July, August and September and it’ll be split between Los Angeles and the UK, rather like Goal! 1.

We’ve obviously shot a huge amount of footage already. We were really very privileged to get some unprecedented access to the World Cup Finals. I think we had nine cameras at 24 games, so we’ve got a huge amount of footage thanks to the Fifa president. But there’s a couple of really exciting new characters that emerge in Goal! 3 to keep the story fresh and driving forward. But that’s all I’m going to say…

Q. People remember Escape To Victory for all the wrong reasons. Have things like that made it difficult for people to get into the idea of a football movie?
A. I think maybe we suffered theatrically on Goal! 1 because there was an inherent suspicion that football doesn’t translate to the big screen. So, the theatrical performance of Goal! 1 was OK.

But we’ve been absolutely blown away by what’s happened in terms of DVDs because it’s sold coming up towards two million. Goal! is one of the only 20 films a year that’s released in China and it’s done tremendously well on many, many levels. I think what it’s done through the DVD, and TV screenings and even airline screenings, it’s built an audience for Goal! 2 theatrically that we expect to capitalise on.