The Inbetweeners end their journey Down Under
The Inbetweeners started life as a sitcom on E4 about a group of misfit schoolboys and their cringe-worthy escapades.
While the creative team had the foresight to believe the characters could have a life on the big screen, even they were taken by surprise at the success of the first Inbetweeners movie, which raked in £45m at the box office.
After some persuading, the cast and crew have returned for a second cinema outing - imaginatively titled The Inbetweeners 2 - moving the action from the brash nightclubs of Malia to the rugged Australian Outback.
And, after directing the final episode of the sitcom, creators Damon Beesley and Iain Morris make their cinematic directorial debut on the sequel.
The cast - Simon Bird (Will), James Buckley (Jay), Joe Thomas (Simon) and Blake Harrison (Neil) - are clearly as great friends off screen as on.
Interviewing them therefore is as tricky as getting sensible answers out of a gaggle of teenage boys, despite the actors being at least in their late 20s (Joe Thomas is the oldest at 30).
Here we try and pin them down on the experience of working in the extreme heat of Oz, and ask the directors how they manage to get anything shot with four actors who try and make each other laugh all the time.
Did it take much persuasion to write a second film?
Damon (writer/director): We said we weren't going to make another film; we didn't know how successful it would be and that it would have a life on screen. But they did translate to big-screen characters, people did care about them and did go back and see it more than once - and that's very rare in cinema.
The idea of not following that up seemed insane to most people who weren't us, and eventually we felt the huge weight of that responsibility.
Were the cast keen?
Joe (Simon): None of us were keen, we were very reluctant to follow it up.
Blake (Neil): We knew it had a fan-base because the third series did really well on E4 but we never expected the film to go anywhere near as well as it did, and I think that's one of the reasons we treated that film as the end of The Inbetweeners. But the fact that film did incredibly well and people for two-and-a-bit years were going on at us "Can you please do another one?" was a huge impact on our decision to actually do a bit of a U-turn and do a sequel.
James (Jay): The success of the first film put us off doing another one.
Simon (Will): It would be nice to go out on top. We only considered doing the script because the script was as funny, if not funnier, than the first one.
Blake: They wrote it without letting us know and once it had been written they said "Come in and read". We started saying "We don't think we're going to do this", but they had done us such a huge favour by letting us be in their brilliant sitcom that we were like "We'll read it" and then after that we were like "This is brilliant - we would be stupid not to do it".
Was it strange having Iain and Damon direct the film?
Joe: They have always been quite present, to be honest. Often the writers are strangely absent from comedy sets and from shows in general. Scripts just arrive and you assume they have come from somewhere but you don't really know. But Damon and Iain have always been there on set. In a way they are the energy of the show, it's their sense of humour that has literally infected the whole group.
Simon: Originally we were gutted because we loved Ben (Palmer) who directed the first film, he was a lovely man. Then we were worried as Iain and Damon have never directed before and we didn't want them to mess it up. And then we were excited, we could just sniff an opportunity to get our own back because they spent six years winding us up from their safe position of being writers on set.
Did it feel like a professional movie set?
Simon: It's never felt that professional, to be honest. The vibe on set was always one of total and committed unprofessionalism.
James: It's the most fun. When we work with other people, and I mean this in the nicest way, they are professional. As great as that is, it's still not singing songs like "wigglyblake".
Blake: We've known each other for seven years now, and it's very rare - especially for me - that you do a show that goes on for more than one season! You don't get that kind of comfortable feeling that you get on this set. The professionalism does slightly go out the window and it's like family - you're messing around with your brothers during their takes and you make them laugh. It's very different to any other set but clearly there's something about it that comes through on screen and there's something slightly infectious about it. I kind of feel the audience knows we are just mucking about.
Damon and Iain, how difficult was it to maintain discipline?
Iain (writer/director): The standard on set was very, very low and it has been all the way through the series. And we created that at the beginning. We wanted them to muck around and enjoy themselves. It does tip over the edge but in general it's good fun to watch and to be around. They know when they are supposed to be acting and allowed to muck about.
Damon: It's integral to the success of the show. They just enjoy each other's company, to the point where filming is a distraction sometimes.
Is The Inbetweeners popular in Australia?
Blake: We were massively surprised at how popular it was over there. My expectations were that it would be like in America, where a few Anglophiles or comedy nuts will have seen it and it will be a huge thing for them to see you. But over there it seemed like the show was very popular and we got noticed all the time.
Simon: There was a real crossover in humour. It's really suited to them; they like the banter, the blue talk and the swearing.
What were the challenges of filming in the Outback?
James: The worst thing was the flies...
Joe: ...and the 50 degree heat. The flies in the end were exasperating, just infuriating. These flies just would not listen to reason!
Simon: We do have to say the challenges are all relative.
Joe: It's an awesome job, and the challenges are trying to make a good job of it, and trying to be funny. It's a delicate thing trying to be funny and it can just go away.
This is the one we've been waiting for, filming in Australia. It's always winter when we film, even in Magaluf (which doubled as Malia) it was cold. The main direction was "Act warm".
What were the technical challenges?
Iain: I recced South Africa as a shoot because it's notably cheaper than Australia, as is England. The dollar is incredibly strong, wages are incredibly high and so it costs more money to shoot in Australia than to shoot anywhere else in the world. What that meant was, weirdly, stuff we had taken for granted in Spain, we didn't have in Australia. Like instant playback of rushes, which are industry standard, we couldn't afford in Australia. Despite the fact the budget was bigger, in terms of materials to work with we had less than before.
Damon: It was relentless - it was the maniac's choice of a film to be your first film.
Iain: Although Maguluf was a two-hour flight, once we got there everything was within 10 minutes walk from the hotel; we even shot in the hotel. Perfect for low-budget film-making. In Australia, two of our locations were a three-hour plane journey and a nine-hour car ride away.
Damon: When we were in the Outback, I think all our Australian crew assumed that the heat would be quite problematic for the British element that was out there. There were two medics and 40 litres of IV fluid on hand, but we didn't wilt to the point where we had to stop filming.
Although, one lunchtime, James thought he was having a heart attack - whereas I was convinced it was that he'd just eaten the biggest bowl of chips and drunk a pint of lager in 40 seconds. So the medic had to come over and he just said "No, you've got indigestion".
Would you return for a third film?
Joe: The writers have been very adamant they are not going to do any more, and we are in their hands. Clearly, we can't organise anything!
I'm sure we will see [and] work together in some capacity. There is a bond there that I think would be a stupid thing to waste. You don't get that bond very often with other performers and we do have it and it's a valuable thing... Sorry, was that a bit emotional?
James: We are sort of addicted to each other, so even if we haven't seen each other for a couple of months we've been texting or emailing. We'll have an email with all of us in that goes on for tens of pages long that are just going on about the same joke!
Is it a definitive 'no' from the writers, too?
Iain: I think the time is right. After the first film, I wanted to hear more from Jay, Will, Neil and Simon. But this time I feel there is enough. There is more than enough Jay in this world.
Damon: The end of the story has always felt like the time where they go off and start living their adult life. And I think this film takes us up to that point.
The Inbetweeners 2 is out in the UK and Ireland on 6 August.