Is it true this film started with a bet?
I was not directly involved with the bet. It was between Charlie Cattrall, an actor in the film and Nico Mensiga, the writer. They produced it as well. Nico came to Charlie and said that he would write a script in a week and if he didn’t, he would give us 500 pounds. Within a week, we had the script. And it just came out of Nico’s mind. Maybe it has to do with the isolation of being a writer, spending a lot of time in cafes watching people and perhaps wondering what would happen if something came into your life in that moment and presented itself to you. It also has to do with where we are in our lives. Pretty much everything in the film is word for word from the original script, which was written under pressure. It’s quite an amazing story.
What’s the trick to a great short film?
I think it’s when a simple, but strong, idea is executed well. I’ve watched lots of short films and have been to lots of film festivals. I think the short films fall down when they are overly complicated or they try to do too many things or the story is too convoluted. You almost get a feeling that someone is trying to make a feature film in 15 minutes. I think it’s always good to get into the story quickly and then leave the audience wanting more.
How did you get the lead actor, Ian Hart?
He is great, isn’t he? Ben Hilton, the producer, found him. He is such an interesting actor. The fact that he comes from the North and is quite inscrutable lends an edge to him, dark and cheeky at the same time. It’s layered. Anyway, we all slowly, but surely, started to get a feeling that he should be the one to play that character. He was very interested in the character and in the script and was very excited to be part of it. He was ultimately the best person for the job. He is so interesting on screen. You believe him 100%. And it’s important because the film is about somebody controlling someone else and manipulating time almost. Ian Hart is able to shape and slow down time. Great musicians and athletes and also great artists have this ability to work in their own time zone.
Was Watching a one-day shoot?
It was two days. The café that we shot at is now closed down for renovation. It was a weird place, because it’s a huge space in the middle of Brick Lane, which is a quite famous street in London, but there is hardly anyone there during the day.
What was the budget?
Ultimately, about 10,000 pounds.
It seemed like it was a lot of fun to shoot it. Is that correct?
Yes and that’s how we live, really. You can’t do a film on your own. You have to do it with a certain amount of people, so hopefully you are going to have a great time together. And that’s regardless of the content of the film. I’ve worked on a dark film before and the set had to be light, so you could go to those places. I believe working on a film should have this feeling of joy and ecstasy surrounding it, because that’s what it’s about. Ultimately, that’s what you are trying to give to an audience. You are asking people spend 14 minutes or so of their life in a dark room and you are asking them engage in a world you are creating. If it’s not interesting or attractive, then you are wasting their time.
What advice would you give to a person who is thinking about making a short film?
Just do it. There is no reason not to as the technology now is relatively cheap. I would say: get a good idea together and just do it. Get your friends in it if you have to. And part of the fun is there is no expectation. Everything is open. You are not burdened by the pressure of the form or the feeling you have to live up to anything. With a first short, people can just start an exploration into the film world. They don’t know any of the rules, so they are breaking them all and that can be incredibly exciting. And it often comes out great. I don’t think you have to go to film school. The technology is there and it’s just a question of not being scared. It’s so interesting to see films that come from very different geographical places around the world and experience the authenticity of those places, the lives people lead, and things specific to those places that you might never visit or imagine otherwise. And obviously, the universal classic themes, like love or hate, death, sex, whatever--they resonate from all over the world.