Jonathan Schey’s The Entertainer screens at ASFF 2017 as part of the Drama strand. The story follows Paul (Toby Jones) as he drives up and down the county in a cheap tuxedo entertaining at parties. Tonight, it’s Charlotte’s Bat Mitzvah – and it’s set to be the best night of her life. Until Paul starts drinking.
ASFF: What do you think is the importance of film festivals in today’s cinematic landscape?
JS: What I love about film festivals is that for ten days (or however long the festival runs for) small films become big films. They’re given a platform, an audience, and get this exciting opportunity to make a mark and create some buzz. That’s what’s so important and essential about film festivals. It creates a space where people can discover.
ASFF: What does it mean to have your film in ASFF’s Official Selection?
JS: ASFF has a fantastic reputation so I’m chuffed! Also it’ll be my first time in York and I love the energy of a city when there’s a festival on.
ASFF: Where do you get your inspiration?
JS: I’m inspired by the extraordinary moments in ordinary life. Looking at the mundane and figuring out how to make it cinematic. The hair and makeup designer on The Entertainer, Cassi Brookes, said this great thing after reading the script, she said it felt “gloriously normal” and that really hit the nail on the head for me. It became the motto of the whole shoot.
ASFF: How did you begin the process of making your film, where did the idea come from?
JS: 13 years ago, at my own Bar-Mitzvah, we had this Cuban band playing. And I remember noticing how depressed the lead singer looked. All the guests were having a laugh, dancing away, and there, on the stage, was this man dressed in this camp outfit looking miserable. That image has just stayed in my mind for years and I wanted to find a story for it.
ASFF: How does this film in particular differ or relate to your previous works?
JS: I’d made two shorts before this one. Both deal with a similar themes. They’re all about failed dreams. Characters who are stuck in a mundane routine they can’t break out of, those who are seeing the extraordinary in their ordinary lives.
ASFF: How do you think that short film creates connections between people?
JS: This could sound mad but here goes. I think the best shorts are like a succinct, well delivered joke. A great stand-up comic can tell a joke about life and everyone in the audience laughs because it taps into a human truth we’ve all thought but never articulated. And then suddenly, as an audience member, you’re less alone. The best shorts do just that. They tell a succinct, well delivered truth.
ASFF runs 8-12 November. To find out more or to book your ticket: www.asff.co.uk/tickets
1. Trailer for The Entertainer. Courtesy of Jonathan Schey.