HollyShorts 2021 Day 6 (Sept. 28th) Highlights + Q&A with Jason Merrells, Jamie Glover and Jonathan Kerrigan

It’s time for day 6 of the festival, and there are so many great films for us to take a look at today. This is a fantastic schedule of projects from some very talented people, including the team from Fellow Creatures (Jason Merrells, Jamie Glover, Jon Kerrigan and Shelley Conn) who will join us for our “5 Questions With” series. With that, let’s get to some highlights!

Fellow Creatures – A film based on a thought experiment, this film shows a man pushing his luck when he gets an unexpected knock on the door from a woman who offers him money for opening an envelope. It takes off from there, where morality begins to gray, and unexpected consequences take hold. This is a very fun film that is lifted by some stellar acting from the cast.

Beyond The Line – While only a few minutes, this animated film tells the delightful story of a wheelchair that wants to help out the person using it by becoming a fast as a race car. It’s fun, fast paced and a wonderful watch.

It’s What She Would Have Wanted – As a group of friends make a pact to get rid of each other’s secrets when they pass, that post has to be enacted when one of them dies. This unleashes a trove of secrets from the member of the group no longer alive, some of which holds more weight than others. It’s really fun, and the cast is very funny.

A Tiny Tale – With an wonderful animated style, this short treks the story of the connection between a young aspiring astronaut, an abandoned dog and a cyclist. In it’s short runtime, it has a lot to the story, but tells it in a terrific way.

The Downpour – When a couple’s car breaks down in rural America, the circumstances get tense when, in order to make a phone call for car service, the woman is forced to make the decision to remove her hijab or risk a dire situation. It’s an anxiety producing film that was incredibly well acted, and something that could do well with a feature length version.

Along with getting a chance to check out their incredible film, we also got a talk with the Fellow Creatures team for our “5 Questions With” series. Take a look!

Q: Tell us more about your film. How did it come to be? 

Having worked together extensively before, Jamie, Jonathan and I had been talking for a  long time about formalizing that collaboration into a production company or collective.  We wanted to begin that new journey with a short film, we’d all had experience making  shorts before, both separately and together with my previous film Le Petit Mort which Jamie had starred in, and Jonathan had composed the music for.  So, we began thinking about a story.  We had a meeting to pitch potential scripts to each other and that’s when Fellow  Creatures came into being.  Of all the ideas it seemed the best & most manageable as a ‘first’ project. Jonathan had always been interested in the age-old philosophical conundrum posed by  Chateubriand’s 1802 quote which opens the film.  

Q: What was your budget?  

Roughly, 8k Stirling.  We crowdfunded this budget via the brilliant Film crowdfunding platform ‘Greenlit’,  reaching our target in a matter of five days!  We believe this was a record for them.  We were blown away by this, it felt like such an affirmation of what we were doing.  We were determined that we would pay everyone involved something.  Our ‘daily rate’ wouldn’t have got anywhere close to a normal rate for most of the people  we managed to get involved.  But it was very important to us that everyone took home a  wage, however small. All the people that agreed to work with us on the film are professionals, not amateurs,  and professionals need paying.  I think this was appreciated and contributed to the  mood on the floor.  I should add that many pulled in massive favours for us, including  our brilliant DOP Richard Mott, with the hiring of equipment and other extras. 

Q: What was the biggest takeaway from making the film?  

That we were absolutely right to do this!  Also, that it’s vital to get the script watertight before you turn over.  We had all  experienced the cameras rolling when scripts are still a couple of drafts away, leaving it  to the director and the actors to ‘refine’ things on the day.  It can waste a lot of time.  So  much better to be confident in your script before you begin, because then any changes  that arise during shooting are creative rather than being a sticking plaster. It went through many drafts and a couple of incarnations, but by the time we came to  shoot, we were very confident in the quality and tightness of the script. And it was that script that the people we asked to work with us responded to and  wanted to be a part of.  

Q: What was the biggest challenge in making this film?  

COVID was huge. For everyone, everywhere of course, but for the film industry in the  UK, it had been a very sudden total shut down.  All 3 of us were involved in other projects as actors, that had suddenly stopped.  As we all came blinking tentatively out of that first complete lockdown in the spring of  2020, we knew that this was the window of opportunity we had to make this film.  We were among the first productions to try and go back to work in this new  environment. As such we had to invent the rules a little, ourselves. We made sure one of  the crew was Covid safety officer, we enforced mask wearing, social distancing where  possible and regular temperature checks. We were filming in an empty school in London during the 3 hottest days of that summer,  so these covid protocols were not easy to stick to!  But everyone was SO glad to be back working on a set again after such an uncertain time  that the spirit among the crew during the shoot was very positive. 

Q: What is next for you? 

As actors we all have projects coming out and work coming up:  Shelley is filming “Bridgerton” series 2 for Netflix,  Jonathan has been working on Irvine Welch’s “Crime” for Britbox,  Jamie has been filming on “the Crown” and he and I are both in “Agatha Raisin”, the 4th  season of which airs in December.  Jamie is also directing Harold Pinter’s “the Homecoming” In theatre next year. As the Shotley collective, Jonathan is working on a TV pilot, and I am developing a  feature film screenplay.  We are committed to working with as diverse a group of creatives as possible and look  forward to The Shotley Collective increasing its network of collaborators with every  project.  We hope that this though not strictly ‘the beginning’, this is certainly ‘the continuation of  a beautiful friendship…’

Thanks to all the filmmakers for their work! You can get tickets for all of the screenings for today, as well as any other blocks for the festival through BitPix and HollyShorts.

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