All stills taken from Joaquin & Lalou’s Fuck I Love New York
Mathew, how did your creative process change from commercial work to these passion projects?
Quarantine gave me time to start my own projects. I’m always working on my own projects or wanting to, but my schedule isn’t forgiving enough. I feel very fortunate to have this time.
You have a knack for highlighting the truth of a situation in your scripts – for instance despite everything life continues, the Rooster still crows. Did you write first and then find the material to fit?
Thank you. I write first. If I have an idea, I’ll pursue it by writing. Sometimes the idea isn’t realized, and it needs work. Not just to be executed but to be a full-rounded clear idea or script. For example, when I wrote Rooster it came together line by line. I didn’t know how to end it, or I didn’t think of the ending until I got to the end. It’s easy to give up on ideas, easy to think of things and not act on them and work at them, so I try to finish each idea I start.
Was it also a way of collaborating with photographers who you know through your commercial work?
I reached out to photographers I don’t know actually. There’s so much talent out there.
How much was ad libbed and scripted in Fuck I love New York, cleverly shot by Biscuit directors Joaquin and Lalou? Was the production relatively straight forward in spite of the restrictions?
Much of the script is ad libbed. For example there’s a shot of the French restaurant in Soho New York called Raouls in the film because in the script I had written a line “Fuck Raouls for saying Frites. They’re fucking fries” but the line didn’t end up making it in the film.
Work is best when it grows during production and I wanted Joaquin and Lalou to take the script and grow it. With the ad libs they directed the cast to talk about all things they find annoying to them, the things in their own lives, so it was more personal – and that’s a reason why the performances are all so good. More than just great ad libs, what Joaquin and Lalou added to the script was the idea that the word ‘fuck’ has two meanings: it can mean both hate and love. This idea unlocked the film. The ending has the cast saying ‘fuck’ as a term of endearment and affection, and this meant we didn’t have to say ‘Fuck I miss this and that’.
Fuck I love NY was a very lean production. It was essentially written, shot and cut by a total of 5-6 people (excluding cast). Joaquin and Lalou directed as well as produced and shot the cinematography themselves. Lalou’s daughter and her boyfriend held the Boom mic, and drove them around the city to all the locations. I think the editor cut at home also.
I’ve always been a big fan of Joaquin and Lalou’s work from my early days at Wieden + Kennedy so it was easy to streamline the process. No bid, no treatment, no layers, just a couple of great calls where we talked openly about the film’s direction where we all discussed the creative, including Rupert, their executive producer at Biscuit Filmworks. Btw Rupert runs Biscuit UK. I sent him the script and he engaged Joaqui and Lalou. So he effectively masterminded a film about New York from London. Maestro!
What have you learnt about yourself during lockdown?
I’ve learnt that I’m better and more suited to writing and initiating work myself. I’ve known this but I was able to prove it to myself. Leveraging our own personal creative communities can yield great results.
I’ve been thinking about initiative. I believe it’s underrated. Talent is important obviously but being proactive and hard working is as valuable. The creative development at agencies, as well as in and for marketing departments, is stifling with so many layers. Critiquing creative with layers is counter intuitive and creates creative fatigue. But the process and agency model is taken for granted as just being normal, it’s just the way it is (even the role of creative teams with a writer and an art director feel strange at times as I’m a designer / art director but I prefer to work alone as I also write). Traditional agency models are changing and I think a model that is streamlined and leaner is more relevant and akin to the times. I’m starting to work more directly with brands where many want to rid the superfluous layers also …but I’m just a little reluctant to call it an agency 😉
FUCK I LOVE NY
Directors: Joaquin & Lalou
Writer: Mat Jerrett
Production Company: Biscuit Filmworks
Executive Producer: Rupert Reynolds-Maclean
Producers: Joaquin & Lalou
Casting: Kathy Foronjy, Vitamin Enriched Casting
Editor: Avi Oron, Bikini Edit
Editorial Producer: Cary Flaum, Bikini Edit
Director of Photography: Joaquin Baca-Asay
Color: Lewis Crossfield, Time Based Arts
Color Assist: Max Ferguson Hook, Time Based Arts
Post Producer: Tom Johnson,Time Based Arts
Sound Design: Jim Stewart and Adam Smyth, String and Tins
Audio Executive Producer: Rachel Hough, String and Tins
Music: ‘Lady Catherine’s Dilemma’ Little Red Church