Meet the Norfolk filmmaker who helped bring Paddington Bear to the big screen
PUBLISHED: 13:04 22 November 2017 | UPDATED: 13:04 22 November 2017
The nation’s favourite marmalade-loving bear is back on the big screen and one of the creative team who helped craft the hit movie Paddington 2 first found his love of film while growing up in Norfolk.
Mark Everson, a former City College Norwich student from Great Yarmouth, was one of the editors of the film which has received rave reviews and sees Paddington and the Brown family fight for freedom and justice as Paddington embarks on a quest to give his Aunt Lucy the perfect birthday present.
Big names like Hugh Grant, Hugh Bonneville and Brendan Gleeson star in the movie directed by Paul King, meanwhile among those working behind the scenes was 42-year-old Mr Everson who spent a year editing the film.
And he said the ultimate highlight was seeing the wonderful reaction from audiences since Paddington 2 was released in cinemas.
“It’s always exciting when a film comes out and everyone likes it, because when you are making it there are no guarantees,” said Mr Everson, who also worked on the first Paddington film.
“For people to say it is better than the first one is amazing.”
Mr Everson, who now lives in London, began working on Paddington 2 in October 2016 and spent 12 months in the edit suite.
“You start off with all the rushes, and editing is where it becomes something else. It is the first time it becomes what it is meant to be,” he said.
He added the surreal thing about working on the Paddington films was when they first started editing the scenes the star of the show was actually nowhere to be seen.
“There’s no bear, there’s a ping pong ball on a stick at best. The actors are acting to nothing and they film empty shots where Paddington should be,” he said.
“We get that back and cut that scene as if he is there. We put in a rough 2D bear to start off with and we send it to the animators who slowly build it up, then we re-edit as the bear forms.”
Paying tribute to the amazing work of the animators, he said: “Even I, watching it now, cannot believe the bear doesn’t exist! It’s just incredible what the animators do. It takes so long, every sequence takes a number of months, there’s lots of stages...it takes a long while before he even gets his fur...and in the very last stage Paddington has a spark in his eye.”
He said one of the interesting things about working with an animated character was it offered the chance to be even more creative during the editing process.
“Because the bear is not there, you can rewrite the script. If you come up with an idea in the edit that can be quite fun, and also there’s lots of visual effects reviews where you are tweaking things. You have input into the bear, how he moves, his timing. We spent a lot of time with the animators talking about what he is doing.”
During the editing process Mr Everson also enlisted the help of an expert consultant - his six-year-old son Oliver - and said one of the most nerve-wracking moments was waiting for the reactions of children in the test screenings.
“It’s quite a tough crowd - you know if you lose them they are not going to laugh out of politeness. It’s quite stressful - but they all laughed so that was a relief!”
On his own favourite scenes in the film, he said: “I don’t want to give anything away. There are some really magical flights of fantasy...Paul [King, the director] often does some very magical moments that are quite surreal and take you out of the real world for a moment and bring you back in nicely.”
And he said Hugh Grant was “electric” as the villain - the ageing, cravat-wearing actor Phoenix Buchanan.
“I just loved watching Hugh Grant’s performance. He was just hilarious,” he said.
The Paddington movies are the latest in a long line of impressive film and TV credits for Mr Everson. He has worked on Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa, Peep Show and The Mighty Boosh - and one of his very first movies was a murder mystery for GCSE art at Lynn Grove High School.
“It was called Who’s Killed Keenan? and my friends were in the cast,” recalled Mr Everson, who went on to study media at City College Norwich and the then University College Salford.
“City College was where I touched an edit suite for the first time,” he said, adding it was also where he remembers being inspired by a visit by songwriter Peter Buchanan who penned the hit My Old Man’s A Dustman and worked on countless TV series.
“I remember him saying, the thing is you can do it if you put your mind to it, you can make it in this industry.”
Now Mr Everson hopes to inspire future filmmakers to follow their dreams, and he has some wise words to share.
“I had years and years without getting a break but you have just got to stick at it and keep working hard. There was a Robert Evans quote and he said ‘Luck is when opportunity meets preparation.’ What he is saying is be prepared for opportunity.”