Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Adam Simcox's "The Dying Squad"

Adam Simcox is a London-based filmmaker who’s shot commercials for brands such as McLaren, Primark and Vice, and music videos for Britpop veterans as well as fresh on the scene alt-country stars. He began his film career by writing and directing three features: the first sold to Netflix; the second and third won awards and critical acclaim at festivals worldwide. He is a graduate of the Curtis Brown Creative novel writing course.

Here Simcox dreamcasts an adaptation of his debut novel, The Dying Squad:
My background is in film – it’s how I’ve earned my misbegotten living, up until now — so when it came to writing The Dying Squad, casting choices were always lurking, flicking my ears and tweaking my nose. I’ve written and directed three films before, and when working in those micro-budget terms, casting was always a challenge. Now I’m here, with my fantasy film selection, it’s time to splash that cash.

Our hero, Joe Lazarus, is a no-nonsense copper with a big problem: he’s dead. That state of being has left him with a swiss-cheese memory, so we need an actor that can portray this sense of confusion, but also get across his intelligence and silent steel too. Let’s go for Paul Bettany. Half tempted to have him in his vision costume just for kicks, but cooler producing heads will probably prevail.

Daisy-May, Joe’s also-dead 16-year-old partner, is the real star of the show. She’s sarky, she’s gobby, and she’s not afraid to call you on your bullshit. She’s also the moral compass and beating heart of the book, and we’ll need an actor of substance to play the role. Let’s go for Anya Taylor-Joy – she’s got just the right measure of insolence and face-down-the-odds nerve.

The Duchess is the governor of The Dying Squad, the spectral police force Joe’s recruited to, all cut-glass cheek bones, steely reserve, and kick ass presence. Let’s not mess around here; let’s get Helen Mirren and Emma Thompson in a knife fight, and the winner stays on as Warden, ruler of the Pen. A controversial means of auditioning, perhaps, but we’re shooting for greatness here, damn it.

Mabel is the Duchess’s sister, and sort of the Q of purgatory. Seen it, done it, killed it. We’ll need someone uncompromising, but also someone capable of getting across heart and sensitivity. We’ll give Judi Dench’s agent a call, but under the strict proviso she doesn’t wear her Cats costume.

Pete was Joe’s flesh and blood partner before Joe was murdered. In the book he’s described as a rugby player gone slightly to seed, but I’m going to go a different way with casting for the film – Stephen Graham’s our man. I want that no-nonsense, ultra-violence bubbling slightly under the surface Graham brings. Plus, the man’s an absolute magician of an actor.

That just leaves one major role to fill – that of director. Am I allowed to nominate myself? Is that too egotistical? Well tough. It’s my fantasy list, and I’ll self-indulge if I want to. If I’m locked out of the director's chair, I might see if Ben Wheatley fancies it. I’m a big fan, and I’d love to see what he does with it.
Follow Adam Simcox on Twitter.

--Marshal Zeringue