Interview with ASFF Filmmaker Chris Smith, Writer of Tea Time in Haworth

Six weeks remain until the opening of ASFF 2014, with the programme being released later this week. Ahead of the festival’s fourth edition, it has been awarded BAFTA Qualifying status – championing its aim to showcase outstanding independent film from the UK and internationally. We speak to Chris Smith, writer of Tea Time in Haworth which features in this year’s Official Selection as part of the Comedy category.

A: As the writer of this film, where did your inspiration come from for the story?
CS: I’m a huge fan of low key sit coms like Roger and Val have Just Got In or Him and Her and I’ve always been interested in small scale stories and how drama and comedy can be found in the everyday. I love comic dialogue too and I’m interested in how relationships grow and how couples in long-term relationships talk to and relate to each other – how they put up with each other’s idiosyncrasies and create a world around themselves. I also appear to like writing warm comedies about old people, although I have no idea where that came from.

A: What was your input during the transition from script to screen?
CS: Tea Time in Haworth came about through me winning a scriptwriting competition with COFILMIC – the prize being to make it into a film. This is my first film and making it was a huge learning experience for me both in terms of developing the script itself and translating it to the screen. I was very flattered that the film’s director Mark Davenport wanted to be so faithful to the script and wanted me involved in the whole process. I also had the excellent help of script editor Micheal Jacob (Smoking Room, Birds of a Feather, My Family) who helped me to understand what elements of the story would and would not work for screen.

A: How does participation in film festivals raise awareness of your film?
CS: I think film festivals like Aesthetica’s ASFF are a great way to get your work seen by people who really like short film, which is always handy, and to make contacts with other writers and filmmakers. Networking is very important to me as I’m a first-time scriptwriter with no real background in the film or TV industry. Having a film shown at a festival can be a great calling card for a writer as it immediately demonstrates you can write, develop ideas and get something off the ground.

A: Where would you like to see your films screened in the future?
CS: We’re aiming to go to a number of other UK film festivals this year (fingers crossed) and perhaps even be picked up by some festivals abroad – although I’m not convinced the humour in the film will always translate! Once we’ve done the festival circuit then it would be amazing to find a distributor and for it to be used as a trailer.

A: Are you working on any current or upcoming film projects?
CS: Yes! My rather overly-ambitious aim at the moment is to write a sitcom using the same two characters from Tea Time in Haworth but in a wider, family setting. I have written a 30 minute pilot script and developed a broad structure for the first series. Again, I am being generously helped and mentored by Micheal Jacob who has many contacts and keeps me writing when I feel like jumping off the roof. I have absolutely no idea how any of this will pan out but it’s certainly an exciting journey!

Watch the trailer for Tea Time in Haworth here.

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1. Mark Davenport and Chris Smith, Tea Time in Haworth. ASFF 2014, Comedy.