“So what we are talking about here,” I said to David McGillivray in the Soho Theatre Bar yesterday afternoon, “is a script that you filmed – a sleazy, gay, hardcore porn film and you have conned some very respectable performers like Nigel Havers and Barry Cryer and Julian Clary into appearing in this filth.”
“Yes,” said David McGillivray. “Mea culpa. Up until very recently, I did maintain that this was a gay, hardcore porn film and it got us a lot of publicity, for which I’m very grateful. I have subsequently admitted that it could now be passed with a U certificate.”
“Was that always the case?” I asked. “Or have you edited it?”
“The script that I saw ,” replied David, “did not have any indication that the author wanted unsimulated sex in it and therefore we didn’t have any. The possibility is that, when the unknown author saw Peter de Rome’s films, a lot of them would also have been soft core. So this is the kind of film we think that the unknown author would have wanted to be made.”
“And can you confirm,” I asked, “that the unknown author was Sir John Gielgud?”
“Of course I can’t,” replied David. “The author is unknown.”
“Can you confirm,” I asked, “that the author was NOT Sir John Gielgud?”.
“I can’t,” said David. “No. I have to accede to the Trust’s demands not only that Sir John Gielgud, for example, did not write the script but also that the script in all likelihood does not exist.”
David and I talked about the film for a blog last October headlined:
“People are perfectly at liberty,” David McGillivray said yesterday, “to conjecture who the author may be, but I couldn’t possibly comment.”
“As I understand it,” I said, “last year the John Gielgud Trust were saying that the script they saw was one you could not legally film because they owned copyright on it. But now they are saying that the script they saw did not exist.”
“We are getting,” said David, “into the realms of Alice in Wonderland because, when we spoke last for your blog, I assumed that the film would never be shown, because the Trust had accused me of infringing their copyright.”
“And,” I checked, “at that point, they had seen the script.”
“They saw the script in 2012,” said David.
“This is the script that they say doesn’t exist?” I asked.
“Yes. And I can prove that they saw it, because it’s all in writing. But then, after you and I spoke last year, there was a most extraordinary volte-face. After a considerable silence and having seen the film, the Trust maintained that Sir John did not write the script and that it did not exist.
“My lawyer wrote back and immediately conceded everything and told them that the film would be released unattributed. We re-edited it – we put a caption on the front, we removed all references to the author who was previously alleged to have written the script and…”
“What does the new caption at the front say?” I asked.
“It says that this film is being distributed on the condition that its screenplay is unattributed. It is now credited to ‘a gentleman’… and that is the version that will be screened in London this Sunday at NFT1 if we do not get an injunction served on us.”
“You feel,” I asked, “that you might get an injunction for illegally making a film from a script that does not exist?”
“Anything is possible, John. Every time I switch on my computer I expect another surprise.”
“Why have you not credited the script to Alan Smithee?” I asked.
“It’s probably a copyright name, isn’t it?” asked David. “There were lots of possibilities of who this film could be credited to.”
“The Sunday screening,” I asked, “is during a gay film festival at the NFT?”
“Yes. And I want you to be the first to say that it is so appropriate that a film called Trouser Bar is playing at a festival called Flare. We will also be screening one of (director) Peter de Rome’s shorts – one of his most beautiful, called Encounters – and we will be showing an extract from a film I made about Peter in which he talks about the script that doesn’t exist. The film will then go on tour in the UK in the Spring and I have just had a request from San Francisco. Ultimately, it will come out on DVD.”
“Will some of the cast be at the screening on Sunday?” I asked.
“Barry Cryer has said he will come.”
“Steady,” I said. “Steady.”
“I am very grateful to the Trust,” said David. “Although they have caused me so much stress, if it had not been for them, I would have been faced with trying to sell a soft core sex film written by somebody today’s audience has never heard of. But, thanks to the Trust, thousands of people now know who the alleged author is and they want to see the film. It is what is known as the Streisand Effect.
“If the Trust had done what I wanted, which was to support me, I would have paid a substantial amount for the rights and there would have been no controversy. Now it is a scandal and I think I have been very lucky.”