With a Polish father, English mother, French relatives and many years in Spain, Peter Domankiewicz can justly claim to be a European filmmaker. But it was not ever thus. It has been a long and winding road that has led through singing and songwriting, playing in a band, being a radio presenter, doing experimental film, commercial video and award-winning independent theatre before finally getting his first TV commission in 1995 – a poetic short created from real home movies, MEMOIRS OF AN IMAGINARY CHILDHOOD, which went on to screen in many international festivals and tour with FARGO.
This was followed in 1996 by his first conventional narrative work, a fantasy folk tale, drawn from the Brothers Grimm, THE GIFT OF DEATH. Never one for doing things the easy way, it was an ambitiously long fantasy ‘short’ at 30 minutes, premiering at Encounters in Bristol and then shown around the UK with SHINE and screened on television. This led to his first TV drama commission, SUMMER OF LOVE, starring Jenny Agutter and Laura Fraser which he co-wrote, directed and produced for ITV – a combination of roles that rarely happens in television and never with a newcomer. It was developed into a series, but never made.
Over the ensuing years he produced television drama, commercials and short films for cinema, as well as directing another short, A QUIET NIGHT IN before starting to develop feature film projects. Then life took him to Madrid (in a manner quite remarkably similar to what happens to the protagonist of his first feature) and he stayed seven years. There he developed a series of feature film projects with different producers, including an adaptation of a J.G. Ballard novel. But, as is the way with most film projects, these did not come to fruition. Meanwhile, he stumbled into studying acting, quite literally by accident, and decided to see where it led.
When his script of TEA & SANGRIA did the rounds of Spain’s top producers, they all liked it but they all passed on it. Peter decided that it had now been too long since he last directed and took matters into his own hands. He formulated a reckless and, frankly, absurd plan to simply make the film on a miniscule budget, taking on the roles of writer, director and producer and working with new acting talent and a small, fresh-faced crew. Not having the resources to lure a suitable English actor (i.e. Simon Pegg) for the lead role, for what would be a very unpredictable shoot, he decided to also take that on. What should have resulted was filmic disaster, a nervous breakdown for its creator and complete financial ruin. Miraculously he is still sane, almost solvent and seems to have made a film that audiences warm to.
He’s already writing the next one. Will he never learn?