For writer-director duo Charles and Thomas Guard, making movies is a family affair.
The brothers’ second feature film, Dead Shot, hit theaters on Friday. Set in 1970s London, it stars Charles’ wife, Oscar-nominated actress Felicity Jones, alongside Aml Ameen as SAS officer Tempest and Colin Morgan as the former IRA member who has vowed to kill him to avenge the murder of his wife.
Dead Shot is the follow-up to their first feature film, 2009’s The Uninvited. But the Guard brothers have been making films together since they were young.
How The Guard Brothers Got Their Start
“We started making films as kids mucking around with video cameras and friends of our younger brother’s,” Thomas Guard tells MovieMaker. “Our films always seem to involve some psychopath on the loose or something, so they’re always had to be lots of victims,” he laughed. “But I guess it kicked off our collaboration, our relationship working relationship really kicked off when we were at university.”
The brothers studied together at the University of Cambridge, where they befriended members of the school’s famous comedy group The Cambridge Footlights including comedians David Mitchell, Robert Webb, and future Oscar-winning actress Olivia Colman, who they cast in their first short film, “One Color White.”
“It was the first time that we really worked on a film together in a sort of semi-professional capacity,” Charles Guard says. “We realized, as we were sort of making this film as students that it was very much an extension of what we had been doing as children. We hadn’t really ever intended to work together, but it suddenly struck us that it worked really well and it was really fun — why couldn’t we continue to have fun doing what we had always done together? So we did.”
Making Dead Shot
On Dead Shot, the production became even more of a family affair than usual. No less than four Guard family members were a part of it — not only Charles, Thomas, and Felicity, but another Guard brother as well.
“Having that prior relationship takes the edges off some of the discussions in a really useful way,” Thomas Guard said. “Our brother Ted was the editor on it, and he actually did some second unit directing as well.”
Thomas Guard says their brother Ted was “an incredibly important part of the process.”
“He was really engaged with where were and what we’d shot — we would constantly be talking about new scenes, and in the end, he ended up really helping us out and shooting some other stuff for us, because it was such a time crunch and such a budget challenge with many aspects of the shoot. So that was another really great relationship that made the process that much more satisfying and productive.”
Charles Guard says working with his wife Felicty Jones — who has starred in films like The Theory of Everything, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, and The Last Letter From Your Lover, and was MovieMaker‘s Summer 2021 cover star — and was a dream.
“I’ve been incredibly lucky,” he says. “With Felicity’s involvement as an executive producer, we were incredibly fortunate that we were able to shape the story around things that she liked and how she would respond to the direction we were taking [her character] Catherine in and really having her involvement. It was amazing.”
He adds: “It felt like we were back as children kind of making films with our friends and stuff. It was that particular feeling when we were shooting the scene in the darkroom when [Jones’ character] is developing the photograph after Tempest, and it really did strike me then that it was kind of like a dream come true that we were back as children kind of making a movie again.”
Dead Shot is now playing in theaters.
Main Image: Felicity Jones and Colin Morgan in Dead Shot. Photo Courtesy of Mark Mainz