A common phrase used in screenwriting is “write what you know”. It’s innate to take from your own experiences when creating new stories. This is exactly what Mark A.C Brown employs in his debut feature film Guardians.
From a very young age, Brown remembers wanting to be a filmmaker. He was heavily influenced by the 1939 film, The Wizard of OZ and it was this film that made him want to become a director. At age 16, he took an interest in Quentin Tarantino films- specifically due to Tarantino’s credits as a writer and director. Soon, Brown began pursuing screenwriting.
Impatience is the word that comes to mind when looking at Brown’s filmmaking. Brown himself claims it was his most significant inspiration in the creation of Guardians. After spending a portion of his time writing scripts for other people that either had major delays in production or, worse, were never made, Brown became fed up and decided to make his own film.
Guardians is Brown’s debut as a feature film director. Brown previously resided at a substantial five-story house in east London and claims its eccentricity gave him the idea for Guardian’s overall concept. The writing process overall took about 6 weeks to write and Brown credits this speedy progress to his close friends who were able to give him trustworthy, yet honest advice on potential areas of improvement.
Brown seems to depend heavily on the support of his friends. More specifically, it appears that having a good, collaborative team assists him as a filmmaker. This is evident in his execution of Guardians. The acting doesn’t seem forced. It maintains a steady flow and the rapid, dry humor bounces between characters effortlessly.
One distinct aspect of Guardians is its use of eclectic characters. I found some of these characters, particularly Lavender, to be interesting but rather aberrant from my own, very American perspective. The reason for this became clear after Brown explained that his characters are based on the different people that can be found around London.
The protagonist, Carlson, is mostly based on Brown himself. Specifically – Brown when he first arrived in London. At this time, Brown was still reeling from a tough breakup and found London to be rather lonely without the comfort of his friends. He places these characteristics onto Carlson and his character is really meant to represent the lonely side of London.
The unconventional Lavender is based on a “Soho Bohemian”. In Brown’s words, the type to talk and tell elaborate made-up stories at the pub to get free drinks out of people. A fun person to be around at some times and then not so fun at others. Lavender’s purpose is meant to represent the staple weirdo character who brings you out of your comfort zone. While this specific character is not one I’m familiar with in my day to day life – as I am not a native Londoner – this underlying trope is something that many can relate to.
Bruxton, Mrs. Fox, and the various politicians represent the developers and “sex pervs” of London aiming to exploit with elaborate money-making schemes. The villains, or the robbers near the end of the film, aren’t even really considered villains as they are the ones suffering from the greedy real estate investors.
Brown talks of London with a great deal of fondness and Guardians is a strong manifestation of that affection. It is a film that is truly a tribute to the city and a large portion of the film was taken from common everyday experiences in the British capital. Brown speaks passionately about his intentions of his film and admirably values the importance of screenwriting. His take on London life and symbolic characters has caught my attention and I genuinely look forward to his next steps as a filmmaker.