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20th January 2014
Heat in the kitchen
Title of film: Javeon, Give Up
Director: Ben Strebel
Production Company: Somesuch & Co
Somesuch & Co director Ben Strebel follows up his Javeon track Lovesong (see in Related Content) with this latest intrigue Give Up

Love your follow-up to the earlier Javeon track Lovesong which you directed, is this going to be a continuing series of a narrative developing?

The idea stems from a conversation I had with Javeon after our first collaboration, Lovesong. We always knew we wanted to continue with telling Katy’s story and we both found a mutual appreciation for roadside cafes! So we thought that could be great place for Katy to run away to and start a new life after the traumatic experience in Lovesong.

There are three more to come that make up the Javeon quintology. Give Up is slightly separate to the rest of them. It’s more of a self-contained narrative on the side. I wanted it to be more like a short that proceeds the main a film. I wanted to create a simple, intimate story surrounding two characters that exist in the same world that Katy inhabits. A moment in time in a sticky, hot, sweaty kitchen.

Please tell us about the shoot – where was the location?

Without giving away too much, the kitchen is actually part of the roadside cafe where some of the other videos play. I always imagined shooting the videos in a Little Chef somewhere in the sticks. I love these places and the stories they tell and characters they attract – real, eccentric people from all walks of life. When we first went to recce this place it was exactly how I imagined it – gritty and dirty with lots of charm.

What were the main challenges of the production and how did you resolve them?

We shot four videos in four days. Because of the complicated schedule of the other three videos we only had four and a half hours to complete Give Up. I met Joseph and Sarah two hours before starting. I didn’t have a script, just a rough outline of the beats I wanted to hit and the arc of the narrative I wanted to tell. So the three of us sat in a booth in the cafe together and thrashed it out. Pretty much everything was ad-libbed. It felt like a real collaboration. Although it was quite nerve racking to not have a script it gave us an incredible freedom and spontaneity that inspired us all.

During the first few takes we refined the dialogue and actions until it was spot on and flowed seamlessly. Joseph and Sarah’s chemistry was amazing and they hit every beat each time and with the help of Ben Todd’s speedy, yet uncompromised handheld camera work we were able to run it a dozen or so times.

The cast is spot on, where did you find them?

I’ve wanted to work with Joseph Altin (Game of Thrones, Misfits) and Sarah Smart (Wallander, Funland) for a while now. They’re amazing characters with an incredible range. I wanted to create two opposing characters – Joseph a charming, slightly annoying, happy-go-lucky guy with little to lose, while Sarah his peer, is more serious, keeps her head down and just tries to get through the day by keeping herself to herself.

I think they perfectly fit the location and world I wanted to create. Joseph looks a bit like a young Vincent Cassel with plenty of charm. The chemistry between them is strong and together they move from the tense and irritable dynamic at the start, building to the explosive moment in the middle and then resolving the story with an exchange of tender, loving looks. Joseph uses his irresistible charm to break her and win her over. I wanted it to feel real. It was such a pleasure to work with actors of this calibre, they were able to effortlessly keep it so subtle and believable.

Director: Ben Strebel
Production company: Somesuch & Co
Producer: Adam Farley
Co-Producer: Giles Maunsell
Exec Producer: Tash Tan
DP: Ben Todd
Production Designer: Kate Evenden
Stylist: Sara Sensoy
Editor: St.John O’Rorke
Production Manager: Sarah Aranda-Garzon
1st AD: Jim Imber
Steadicam: Andrew Fletcher
Colourist: Houmam Abdallah at Electric Theatre Collective
SFX: Dave Lightfoot at Wave Studios
Commissioner: Caroline Clayton