Submarine In New York

May 2011 saw the New York screening of Richard Ayoade‘s Submarine at Y Tribeca, as well as a Q&A with the director. TVO was lucky enough to have a couple of peelers who attended the event and reported back to us.

© Gina R Snape

Gina R Snape:

On Saturday I went to the film screening and Q&A for Submarine, Richard Ayoade’s feature length film debut.  The venue holds 70 seats, so it was an intimate affair. Peelers may recall that Noel Fielding, Julian Barratt and Oliver Ralfe came to the same venue for a showing and Q&A for Journey of the Childmen.

Submarine was delightful, as was Ayoade who is equal parts shy, unassuming, and polite but also funny and quick-witted.  The film itself was a brilliant way for Ayoade to broadcast his screenwriting and directing talents. And Arctic Monkeys fans will enjoy the soundtrack with original songs written for the film by Alex Turner.

Ostensibly a coming of age tale, he weaves comedy and drama expertly and uses a variety of cinematic styles and techniques to tell the tale from the perspective of Oliver Tate (Craig Roberts). Although it’s very funny, its poignancy and mixed tone lead Ayoade to declare “it’s not funny enough to be a comedy.” I don’t want to spoil all the details of the film, and there are loads of synopses and reviews online [including our own (ed.)]. Instead I’ll focus on highlights of the event.

After the film showing, Ayoade came out for the Q&A. Standing in the corner full of shyness, he’s brought over to a chair and interviewed first by one person. He jokes that he’ll make eye contact in 10 minutes, clearly to become comfortable in front of the audience. After a few minutes, questions were taken from the audience. Boosh fans should take note that Ayoade did not participate in any of the recording for the as yet to be released album.

Among the questions he answered:

You want to make a splash with your feature debut. Why was this the one you could do the best with, perhaps?

“Well, you don’t sort of presume this is the first of many . . . you just hope to make something. And, em, I just really liked the book.”

Amusingly, his mobile rings at one point and he fumbles and confesses not really knowing how to shut it off. Clearly there’s a difference between Ayoade and Moss!

I was curious how you got started going from writing to acting to the directing of music videos. How did that happen?

“Just like, er, a crisis of confidence probably. I’ve always wanted to do music videos . . . and partly like, when we did the show Garth Merenghi and partly it was just trying to be sabotage . . . I suppose directing was more from writing. Just trying to make it turn out right . . . so I could personally screw it up.”

About his influences in making this film:

The main influence on it was Taxi Driver. Yes, it’s true. Just because it’s so internal – Taxi Driver – and very subjective.”

Are you doing any personal writing that you want to turn into a screenplay?

“Erm, as opposed to adapting? Er, yeah. It wouldn’t sound like anything if I said it. It’s some stuff . . . that I’m writing. Yeah. That’s my pitch.”

After the film, Ayoade stood outside in the hallway and graciously shook hands, stood for photographs, and accepted a generous flow of compliments from attendees. It was a lovely event and I can’t speak highly enough of either Richard Ayoade or the film! If you get a chance to see it – GO!

© SashaM


The audience response to the film was extremely enthusiastic. When Richard first sat down he joked to the moderator that it would be ten minutes before he would be able to make eye contact! He added that he could hardly believe anyone had been to see the film then turned to us and said, “I can’t even believe that you’ve just seen it.”

Someone noted that Submarine reminded them of Harold and Maude (something my friend and I had also thought). Richard said that he wasn’t familiar with the movie until someone else had mentioned it to him, and generally he wasn’t a big fan of Hal Ashby (he said, apologetically, that he didn’t like ‘Shampoo’). Then he added that Submarine was actually based on ‘Taxi Driver’ which got a big laugh from the crowd.

It was a great evening and I feel lucky to have been one of about 50 people in attendance.


Someone asked Richard if the striking colour palate in the film had any relevance. He explained that the colours each character wore were meant to represent their personalities: Oliver in blue, Jordana in bright red, Oliver’s Mum in white and off-white, his Dad in brown. That said, he denied that he was a particularly visual thinker and explained that Oliver is meant to be directing the film, so the camera work is purposefully grandiose to reflect that.

Richard came across as extremely softly spoken and humble, speaking in rambling sentences dotted with self-deprecating humour. After the screening my friend and I had a photo taken with him which I proudly call ‘The 3 Most Awkward People in Existence.’

© Warp

In other ‘Ayoade in NY’ news, this week he was interviewed by the New York Times. Like most of his interviews much is made of his reticence as an interviewee, but there are plenty of interesting insights into his work both behind and in front of the camera. As interviewer Johan Weiner says, “What unites Mr. Ayoade’s performances is the abiding warmth he demonstrates toward his characters, despite their flaws and shortcomings — an empathetic quality that comes in handy as a director too.”

Remember that you can buy Submarine from our The Velvet Onion Amazon Store in DVD or Blu-Ray format!

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