INTERVIEW WITH 2022 FALL SHORT FILM FUND FALL SEASON'S GRAND PRIZE WINNERS
LAURA SPINI & LAURENCE BROOK
A sedentary pensioner must find the inner fire to fight his local council before he is turned into a coffee shop.
The 2022 Short Film Fund Fall Season’s grand prize winners Laura and Laurence share their plans for filming their winning short film script and their aspirations for the film. Laura and Laurence, founders of Butthead Films, previously produced YOU ARE WHOLE and A DISAPPEARANCE. Their winning short film script, HE WOKE UP TO DEFLATING NEWS, is a Comedy that features deadpan stand-up legend Michael Redmond (Father Ted, Brass Eye, Stewart Lee’s Comedy Vehicle.)
Firstly, can you tell us a little about your short film? What it’s about and how did you come up with the idea?
Put simply, our short is about a pensioner being turned into a coffee shop, very much against his will. The idea started at the Edinburgh Fringe after seeing comedian Michael Redmond perform his excellent deadpan stand-up routine. On the journey home, we encountered a very well-known coffee shop and a few steps later we saw that another branch of the same well-known coffee shop was being built. That’s when one of us said “What if…”, and the other one of us completed that sentence. We like to write what we see, sometimes literally.
What made you want to enter it into the Short Film Fund?
Greed and a lust for industry power. More seriously, we saw it as a great opportunity not just to reach the production stage, but to receive incredible support offered from development to delivering the film to audiences at festivals and beyond.
How did you feel when you found out that you won?
Laurence phoned me saying we had won 10 grand and I thought he’d just casually strolled into a casino in the thirty minutes he was gone from the home. It was a pretty wild and absurd event to sink in, and we’re still pinching ourselves now every morning (which has left bruises, to be fair.)
Are you looking to direct your short film?
Yes – we have been living with the film for quite some time, and have had early discussions on the costume/transformation, how we would shoot it, and who we would cast, so we would love the opportunity to direct.
Do you want to develop the script further? If so, what will you look to change?
We’d love to really hone the script so that it’s as sharp and punchy as it can be. We are very keen that the film is the right length so that it doesn’t overstay its welcome, and we want to pack as much visual humor into that timeframe as possible.
What do you feel will be your biggest challenge in terms of getting your script off the paper and onto film?
Turning a man into a shop is going to be a pretty big challenge, but one that we have been preparing for our whole lives.
Do you think about the practicalities of filming when you write? If so, how has that changed your writing process, or have you always thought that way?
As Writers/Directors, we always try and keep in mind the boundaries of our budget given the absurdist spaces we like to create. One-half of the two of us works as an Editor, which means we try and keep things contained to what is absolutely necessary for the character and the story.
I know it’s early stages, but do you have any thoughts/preferences on camera format, aspect ratio, crew, location, and anything else for the production?
It’s always been our dream to shoot this project on 16mm, 4:3. We feel that the texture of 16mm film is the perfect medium to tell this particular story of a well-worn gentleman being even further worn down by crushing bureaucracy. In terms of crew, we have a wonderful pool of collaborators we’ve worked with before and we’re planning to assemble this Avengers gang back together.
Where, in an ideal world, would you like to shoot your short film?
In an ideal world, we would probably work on a mixture of set and location. A lot of the film is interiors of the pensioner’s dusty home, or in sterile bureaucratic environments, so we don’t have a specific shooting location in the world in mind, as long as it represents modern-day Britain.
What are your aspirations for the film once it’s completed? Certain film festivals? Help with getting a feature off the ground, etc.
We’d love to hit the festival circuit and revisit some of the amazing festivals we’ve had the honor of being invited to in the past – we’d also love the film to have the longest shelf life possible, so finding a new life online after the festival circuit would be fantastic. We are actively working on a TV pilot and a debut feature of a similar mood and tone, and we hope this short can help open a few doors for us.
Do you have any advice for upcoming screenwriters who are either looking to direct their own material, or find a producer/director for their short script?
Watch as many short films as you can, and try to identify directors and producers who work in your country and whose work you feel ties into your own. Establish long-term relationships, perhaps when you don’t even have a project on, to make sure you have that real-life connection that goes beyond your project. That will serve you well in the more pressured environment of a short film shoot.
Are there any lessons you’ve learned from your previous projects that will help you going forward with making your short film?
Gut feeling about the crew, cast, and shots that might work very well and not work at all is something that you can learn to trust and use to your advantage. Feed your crew and feed them well!
You can see the one-pager for HE WOKE UP TO DEFLATING NEWS here. Find out more about the current season of our Short Film Fund here. To learn more about Laura, Laurence, and their past and current projects, visit www.buttheadfilms.com.