Happy 1st Birthday "The Interviewee"!

On September 30th last year my BBC funded short film ‘The Interviewee’ was shot, and to mark the first anniversary of this momentous day I will share a few details about the whole thing with the world.

The whole thing came about as a result of my student short film ‘Sensitivity’. As my first piece of work for my university film course, the brief was to make any film you liked so long as the dialogue was limited to twenty five words, designed to keep the films visual. Mine became a film about a young man (ably played by Anthony Crutch) desperate to finish his new book, but who would be thwarted by noisy people. When, in September 2008, I spied a BBC Blast Bursary competition, where if you were aged between 16 and 19 you could not only have the film shown on BBC TV, but receive a £3000 bursary to make a new short mentored by the Beeb, I leapt at the chance. And, bizarrely, I got it. The film was selected from hundreds of entries across the country by the judging panel including Radio 1 DJ Jemma G and Radio 1’s film critic James King.

‘Sensitivity’ was shown on BBC 2 in an edited form on Friday 28th November 2008, and projected on the big screen at the BFI Southbank’s National Film Theatre at the BBC Blast Future Film Festival on Friday 13th February 2009. I also received a very nice award made in glass with my name on it. Rather odd carrying such a thing back on the Tube network, but satisfying to be able to call myself ‘award winning’.

Next, the process of making the new short began. In April I visited BBC Television Centre and met with my mentor, Micheal Jacob, Creative Head of BBC College of Comedy and executive producer on shows such as ‘My Family’. For the next two or three months we discussed ideas until we came to the film that would become ‘The Interviewee’.

Inspired by a job interview I had in 2006 and Birmingham City’s St Andrews club superstore, it would tell of a man who becomes nervous at an important interview. I was put in touch with the fantastic team at BBC Birmingham’s Drama Village, who make ‘Doctors’ and ‘Land Girls’ for the BBC, and they helped turn the piece from a few pages of script into a proper film with a proper crew. Add to this professional comedy actors, including Fraser Ayres from ‘The Smoking Room’, Geraldine McNulty from ‘My Hero’, Anna Crilly from ‘Lead Balloon’ and Ed Weeks from the double act ‘Tommy and the Weeks’ and the properness increased substantially.

The film was shot in a vacant office at the Fort Dunlop complex in Birmingham, and the excellent location and fabulous production design, not to mention expert cinematography, made it all look marvellous. While initially daunting to have a proper crew waiting for you to tell them what to do, they were all extremely helpful and encouraging and made me seem like I knew what I was doing! It was a great experience and one that hopefully will not be a flash in the pan. The film subsequently received its premiere at BAFTA’s London Headquarters in October 2009 and was shown on BBC 2 on Friday 27th November 2009. I was described as having ‘more neuroses than Woody Allen’ by James King, which I chose to take as a compliment.

To celebrate this first anniversary you can now watch ‘The Interviewee’ in The Screening Room on studio279.co.uk. You can also watch ‘Sensitivity’, in almost its second year as a BBC award winning film. And be sure to let me know what you think of it.

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