Cherie Blair recently came to the Principality to discuss her role as an executive producer in the upcoming film, The Rock Pile, at the Monaco Streaming Film Festival. The English barrister, campaigner for women’s equality and wife of former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, sat down with HelloMonaco to talk about her idea to change the script and give the film a female protagonist.
The Rock Pile, which has experienced delays due to COVID, will be directed by John Deery and follow a Time magazine correspondent in Jerusalem as she uncovers a story about three boys, with different faiths, who have been brought together through football.
The film is due to be released in December 2022.
HelloMonaco: When you saw the script, how long it take for you to get engaged with the story and decide for yourself ‘I’m in’?
Cherie Blair: It didn’t take me long to realize the potential of the script. But I felt that they were missing something in having a male journalist. In the beginning, it was a male journalist and I felt that it wasn’t quite clear to me, particularly the relationship, the friendship that develops between the male journalist and the Palestinian barrister. How realistic is that? Not really, I think. I thought, ‘That doesn’t make sense.’ Why do we assume that a foreign correspondent has to be male when, in fact, there are plenty of examples of female ones? Including someone like Marie Colvin, who was actually killed when she was on tour as a foreign correspondent. So I thought that by turning the journalist into a woman, you put a whole new dimension into the story. And I was very interested in playing a part in that.
HelloMonaco: So who offered to switch the male journalist for a female one?
Cherie Blair: Well, I said it to John, and then some other women in the project also said it. And, as he said, ‘COVID’s coming’ which was absolutely true. And you couldn’t just change ‘he’ to ‘she’. Because that’s not the way things work. Making the journalist a woman changed quite a bit of the emphasis of the story and some of the storylines. So that took time to do. But when it was rewritten and came back, I thought, ‘wow, it really works’. I was very pleased. I don’t know anything about how to make a film, but I love stories and I’ve always read, from a child. Fiction, the arts, are very important to me.
HelloMonaco: Is this the first time you’ve worked as a producer?
Cherie Blair: Yes! Maybe the last as well! (laughs). There’s a lot more in it than I thought.
HelloMonaco: Do you have a vision of what’s going to be your responsibility for this movie? Do you have to be present during the production in Jerusalem, where it’s going to be filmed?
Cherie Blair: If it would be helpful for me to go over, of course, I’d like to. I’m quite curious about the process. My father, of course, was an actor and was in a number of films. And one film he was in, my ten year old son played his ten year old son in the film. But even then, I didn’t actually go to any of the filming. I did go see my father when he was being filmed doing a television show. It would be quite interesting to be there. But, I think, what’s important is the ideas and the authenticity of the project.