How did the film initially come about? What was your starting point?

As with any short film, the starting point was budget. What was the most interesting thing we could film with the smallest amount of money? I don't know if I'm a masochist, but I love figuring out problems like that. It often leads to more creative ideas. 

That said, if anyone reading this wants to give me a blank cheque to prove me wrong, be my guest.

What were the first steps involved in its production? What was the first thing to get right?

How to make it look like someone was being hit when they weren't. I initially thought I'd use wire work, but that is slow and expensive. 

This is a fight, so it needed to be kinetic.

In the end, I worked with a fantastic stunt co-ordinator, Jean-Paul Ly, who made the actors' movements really convincing.

Did you have any stylistic influences? How did they influence the creative process?

I always feel style should follow on from the idea. 

This is a fight, so it needed to be kinetic and the protagonists are young Londoners, so the setting and filming style leaned into that.

David Dearlove – Fighting Talk

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How did you cast the film? How did you assemble your crew?

I've worked with a lot of the crew before – David Bird, DoP, Sam Hopkins, editor, Phil Bolland, sound designer, and Tom Mangham, colourist – and knew they were great, so asking them was a no-brainer. 

The same is true of Crocodile Casting. I could have cast half a dozen people from the options they gave me.

How was the shoot? Did you run into any issues?

Trying to find an uninhabited street in London is much harder than you'd think. 

I wanted to do something I hadn't done before – in this case, a fight scene.

This was shot on one of the last remaining streets in Hackney Wick with no flats. I went by the other day and saw they're close to completing a huge block on it. Another location gone!

Tonally, this is quite different from many of the films you'd be associated with. Was that a conscious decision on your part? Does it affect your shooting process?

Yes. I often wonder whether, commercially, it's better to stick rigidly to one genre. Be the 'funny' director or the 'car' director. However, for better or worse, I wanted to do something I hadn't done before – in this case, a fight scene.

It forced me to think a lot harder about camera movement and the edit, which was technically challenging, but very satisfying.

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The edit and audio post were obviously important elements in putting across the concept - what did you look for in the post process in order to make it clear and witty?

I knew it needed to almost feel cartoonish for it to be funny. Two people swearing could easily get heavy. So that meant avoiding a naturalistic edit and sound design. Lots of post-zooms and SFX to enhance the action. Getting the right 'weight' of the punches, for example, was critical. 

Getting the right 'weight' of the punches was critical. 

Finally, a great track, found for us by Major Tom, sealed the deal. Slightly Western-influenced that spoke of duelling, but also not what you'd expect on an ad set in East London.

What are you doing with the film? Aside from featuring it in shots, natch.

The usual. Putting it into film festivals and showing it to anyone and everyone. 

If the Amazon delivery driver even vaguely looks like they're into film, I'll drag them into the house to watch it. 

If you could have a word to weaponize, what would it be and why?


Whenever that turns up in the middle of a sentence, you always know what's coming next is going to hurt.