The Diary: Michael Fassbender; Upstairs Downstairs; Jeremy Deller; Clybourne Park

 

No shame in short

Poor Michael Fassbender. The actor's scintillating turn in Shame was overlooked at the Baftas, but he didn't leave entirely empty-handed on Sunday. Pitch Black Heist, a black-and-white movie which he co-wrote and in which he stars, won the Best Short Film award. In the 13-minute caper, Fassbender plays a criminal who plots to break into a safe whose alarm is triggered by light. In a unique twist, the climactic heist unfolds in three minutes of total darkness. "Someone told me that the rule is never have more than 30 seconds of black in a film," says director John Maclean. "I thought, 'that's a good rule to break'." The scene was filmed "at a friend's house, with the lights switched off". The rest of the film, made for under £30,000, was shot in three days at The Dolphin pub in Hackney.

Maclean, keyboardist with defunct Scottish folk-rockers The Beta Band, started out making his own music videos. A friend passed his work on to Fassbender and in 2009 they teamed up on Man on a Motorcycle, a short about a day in the life of a courier shot entirely on a mobile phone. Fassbender filmed his part on a day off from Inglourious Basterds. "I thought he'd be sick of hanging around waiting for big set-ups so I made it a quick, guerrilla-style shoot," says Maclean. "We had a lot of fun running around Soho, on the bike". Maclean is now writing his first full feature for Film4, which he hopes will feature Fassbender. For now, they're still celebrating. "He was very, very pleased. The main-actor thing really didn't seem to bother him."

Down on Downton

Sunday evenings just aren't the same unless one can watch a servant ironing a newspaper. This weekend Upstairs Downstairs returns to BBC1, filling the period vacuum left when the second series of Downton Abbey finished at Christmas. The BBC and ITV launched their rival dramas within months of each other last winter. Are the denizens of Eaton Place jealous of the more-hyped Downtonians? "Not really", says Claire Foy, who plays Lady Persie. "I was more scared of people who loved its pedigree saying, 'you've ruined it!' than of someone saying 'there's a similar programme on ITV'. Eastenders is similar to Coronation Street. They're the same beast but but you don't compare them. They're so different in their approach." Not that different, surely? "In ours, the upstairs and the downstairs are far more separate. They're in the same house but they're living different lives. That's why it's so interesting", says Foy. "And there's something really nice about Upstairs... being in London. There's so much more going on." Over to you, Lady Mary!

Deller's art of the busker

What do Jeremy Deller and Simon Cowell have in common? More than you might think. The Turner Prize-winning artist has produced a record with his favourite busker. It features two cover versions – of "Folsom Prison Blues" and "Island in the Sun" – by Chuck, who performs on the South Bank and Kingston High Street most days with an acoustic guitar and home-made percussion strapped to his shoes. "Not every busker can stop you in your tracks like Chuck can", says Deller. "He sounds like Willie Nelson – laid-back, jazzy, simple". The limited-edition vinyl will go on sale next week to coincide with the opening of the artist's new exhibition at the Hayward Gallery.

A drama in many acts

The searing arguments on stage in Clybourne Park have been eclipsed by far more colourful discord behind the scenes. The Broadway transfer of Bruce Norris's satire about race was thrown into jeopardy this month when it was suddenly left without a producer. Scott Rudin pulled out in retaliation when Norris, who is also an actor, withdrew from a lead part in Rudin's upcoming HBO adaptation of Jonathan Franzen's The Corrections. According to Rudin, Norris pulled out of the show at the very last minute, having made a series of outrageous demands, "in the hope that we would turn him down, and that he would not have to face the responsibility of reneging on a commitment he made. He's a wonderful playwright, and an equally wonderful actor, but I am unwilling to support or de facto condone this behaviour." Rudin has also binned productions of A Parallelogram and another new play he had commissioned from the writer. Clybourne Park has now been bailed out by Broadway theatre-owner Jordan Roth, and will open at the Walter Kerr, a week later than planned, in April. The spat, though, looks set to run and run.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
The Great British Bake Off contestants line-up behind Sue and Mel in the Bake Off tent

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Mitch Winehouse is releasing a new album

music
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Beast would strip to his underpants and take to the stage with a slogan scrawled on his bare chest whilst fans shouted “you fat bastard” at him

music
Arts and Entertainment
On set of the Secret Cinema's Back to the Future event

film
Arts and Entertainment
Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman

film
Arts and Entertainment
Pedro Pascal gives a weird look at the camera in the blooper reel

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Public vote: Art Everywhere poster in a bus shelter featuring John Hoyland
art
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Griffin holds forth in The Simpsons Family Guy crossover episode

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Judd Apatow’s make-it-up-as-you-go-along approach is ideal for comedies about stoners and slackers slouching towards adulthood
filmWith comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
Arts and Entertainment
booksForget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Arts and Entertainment
Off set: Bab El Hara
tvTV series are being filmed outside the country, but the influence of the regime is still being felt
Arts and Entertainment
Red Bastard: Where self-realisation is delivered through monstrous clowning and audience interaction
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
O'Shaughnessy pictured at the Unicorn Theatre in London
tvFiona O'Shaughnessy explains where she ends and her strange and wonderful character begins
Arts and Entertainment
The new characters were announced yesterday at San Diego Comic Con

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Rhino Doodle by Jim Carter (Downton Abbey)

TV
Arts and Entertainment
No Devotion's Geoff Rickly and Stuart Richardson
musicReview: No Devotion, O2 Academy Islington, London
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film

film
Arts and Entertainment
Comedian 'Weird Al' Yankovic

Is the comedy album making a comeback?

comedy
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
film
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

    The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

    With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
    Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

    Acting in video games gets a makeover

    David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices
    Could our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?

    Could smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases?

    Health Kit and Google Fit have been described as "the beginning of a health revolution"
    Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

    The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

    The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
    A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

    A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

    Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
    Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

    Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

    How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
    Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

    From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

    He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
    How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

    How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

    Broadcasting plays and exhibitions to cinemas is a sure-fire box office smash
    Shipping container hotels: Pop-up hotels filling a niche

    Pop-up hotels filling a niche

    Spending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but these mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
    Native American headdresses are not fashion accessories

    Feather dust-up

    A Canadian festival has banned Native American headwear. Haven't we been here before?
    Boris Johnson's war on diesel

    Boris Johnson's war on diesel

    11m cars here run on diesel. It's seen as a greener alternative to unleaded petrol. So why is London's mayor on a crusade against the black pump?
    5 best waterproof cameras

    Splash and flash: 5 best waterproof cameras

    Don't let water stop you taking snaps with one of these machines that will take you from the sand to meters deep
    Louis van Gaal interview: Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era

    Louis van Gaal interview

    Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era
    Will Gore: The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series

    Will Gore: Outside Edge

    The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series
    The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

    The air strikes were tragically real

    The children were playing in the street with toy guns