Interview with ASFF 2013 Filmmaker Cullum Carver-Jones

One of the highlights of the Aesthetica Short Film Festival this year was the ingenious black comedy Evil Urges, directed and produced by partners Cullum Carver-Jones and Natasha Rosewell of production company Chaos. The film follows a young couple’s domestic routine at Christmas time with a delightfully dark twist, in a hilarious alternative to traditional festive cinema. We chat to Caver-Jones about the inspiration for the film, the duo’s plans for Christmas and what we can expect from them in 2014.

Readers of the December/ January issue of Aesthetica Magazine receive free online access to Evil Urges, along with a selection of other films taken from ASFF 2013. Visit www.aestheticamagazine.com/subscribe for more information.

ASFF: Evil Urges is a wonderfully wicked comedy. What is it about this genre that particularly appeals to you?
CCJ: Even though comedy is so popular, we still feel that it’s quite an underrated genre. It’s a great achievement and skill to be able to create satisfying and clever comedy that truly makes people laugh. This is something we really admire when it is done particularly well and we wanted to continue to practice and develop our own standing within the genre.

We really enjoy watching black comedy films and chose to adopt it for Evil Urges because we felt it worked for the story we wanted to tell. It also enabled us to have a go at practicing two genres in one film: drama and comedy. That’s not to say that we don’t intend to try out other genres, however, such as horror, documentary, and animation, to name a few!

ASFF: Christmas time creates the perfect backdrop to juxtapose with the wonderfully macabre content of your film. Did the festive season inspire your original idea?
CCJ: Actually, the Christmas setting came quite late to the concept. My producer, Natasha, and I had read a grizzly article about the great number of domestic disturbances that occur during the festive period and we thought that it would fit perfectly with our concept. The fact that we were also filming a week before Christmas made us want to surround ourselves with festive decorations even more! I’ve always wanted to make a Christmas movie, I just never thought it would end up to be so gruesome! Maybe one day I’ll be able to make a truly gory, Christmas feature…

ASFF: Each scene concentrates on an all too relatable domestic irritations. If you could pick one which infuriates you the most, which would it be?
CCJ: Definitely tea slurping! Fortunately it’s a pet peeve Natasha and I both share, so instead of fantasizing about killing each other, we fantasize about killing others who do it … just joking! One of the best things that we’ve gained from Evil Urges is an insurmountable list of annoying habits that have been suggested to us by people who have seen the film. We’ve also had a few people describe the intricate ways in which they themselves would prefer to handle their partners’ habits – some of which are far more brutal than our ideas!

ASFF: Which other festive film favourites will you be watching this year?
CCJ: It’s a tradition of ours to watch the extended edition of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and all the behind-the-scenes for it, twice a year – so we’re definitely going to make time for that in between our other festive favourites: Elf, The Grinch, Home Alone, It’s A Wonderful Life, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Die Hard, and Miracle On 34th Street – we like to celebrate with the classics!

ASFF: What are you looking forward to most over the holidays?
CCJ: Pretty much watching all our favourite Christmas movies and getting some serious scriptwriting done. We’ve also got the final drafts of our dissertations due in January so we guess we’ll have to make time for those as well! Having said that, we are really enjoying researching and writing our dissertations. I’m trying to see if there is a comparison between the declines of the Hollywood major studios in the 1960s and 1990s and whether or not our current industry is heading in the same direction. Meanwhile, Natasha is analysing the significance of today’s surge of superhero movies and whether or not they could be considered to be the fairy tales of our time.

ASFF: What can we expect from Chaos in the New Year, and will you be entering ASFF 2014?
CCJ: I recently produced a documentary called The Wolf, The Ship, and The Little Green Bag, directed by Kathryn MacCorgarry Gray, which is about three senior, female friends and their coming of age stories which we brought to life through animation. We’ll be submitting it to ASFF 2014 so hopefully you’ll see it there!

For Chaos itself, we’re currently finalising several scripts and will be getting ready to appeal for funding, crews, and investors early next year, before eventually filming them in the summer. On top of that, we graduate from the Westminster Film School in July so we’re preparing to fully dedicate ourselves and our time to building our film production company and its content.

Credits:
1. Image taken from Evil Urges Cullum Carver-Jones (Chaos) UK, 2012/ 2013