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Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Aesthetica Short Film Festival | Online Exclusives | James Keaton | Lost Connection

Incorporating creative programming and alternative venues, the Aesthetica Short Film Festival (ASFF) is the latest addition to the film festival circuit. To celebrate the launch of ASFF, we are running a series of interviews with the filmmakers throughout October. Here you can find out more about what motivates our filmmakers, and ASFF will give you the opportunity to experience their short films first hand. To watch these films, visit the Aesthetica Short Film Festival (ASFF) website to purchase your ticket. We have a limited number of Early-Bird weekend tickets available for £15. Don't miss your opportunity to experience short film in the historic city of York.

James Keaton, Producer of Lost Connection, a film about a young man who obsesses over a Hollywood star during the build-up to his father's funeral, spoke to Aesthetica about the challenges of making a short film and his future projects. You can see Lost Connection for yourself at the following venues:

Friday 4 November at Mansion House at 16:30
Saturday 5 November at Mansion House at 16:30
Sunday 6 November at 1331 at 16:30

Firstly, congratulations on being in the Official ASFF Selection! What impact do you think this screening will have on your career?

Thank you. That's not really a question I can answer yet. I think that a lot of success stories in the film industry are serendipitous. If the right person sees the right film under the right circumstances then that's when careers are born. All I can say is that I am forever optimistic and realistic about my chances.

How do you describe your work? Do you see it falling into the genre of Drama?

I feel that I am still at an early stage of my film career and I am trying to do different things and try different styles. You learn so much by making films that I hope my technique will evolve and grow and therefore improve with every new project that I take on. I like to think that my films so far are thoughtful and have heart.

Could you tell me a little about your film Lost Connection and how it came about?

The film is about a young man who becomes obsessed with a Hollywood star during the build-up to his father's funeral. I had been a runner in the film industry and due to me taking one job, another passed me by, and an opportunity that may have changed the course of my career was now just a memory. A 'what if' moment if you like. I thought about that a lot and ended up turning that idea into a half hour script. I wanted to make a longer form drama to prove to myself (and others) that I could.

What were some of the challenges involved in making the film?

Oh God, what wasn't a challenge more like! First of all I spent several months on the phone to a Hollywood agent, pitching him the idea and trying to get permission from his client. When that fell through, I did a little re-write on the script and had to pay for a lawyer to give the script the once over. After that I applied for funding, when that fell through, it was a case of trying to figure out how to shoot the film with the money I had. My idea was to shoot the film in little chunks. I had a half hour script, multiple locations, a named cast, and an 8 day shooting schedule, so it couldn't possibly be done in one go. We also had an accident with the camera on the day that Stephen Fry came to film his segment, and we didn't complete all the shots I'd had planned - which was very painful. I ended up fully-funding the film myself and the debt that I am still in is quite debilitating. And then the post-production problems as well... Don't get me started.

What is your all time favourite short?

A short film which won some prize on the BBC back in 1998. It's called I Just Want To Kiss You and is directed by Jamie Thraves. I was utterly mesmerised by the performance of the lead actor who played it edgily and comically, and I thought about how I'd love to work with him. I ended up following his career; from a Pot Noodle commercial, to a late night BBC2 sketch show, and as a rapist in an ITV drama, but his big break was in a sitcom called The Office. It was Martin Freeman and he is now the Hobbit. And I did end up working with him; he was the voice of a talking soft-toy pig that gives dating advice in my second independent short film, Lonely Hearts.

What are you working on next?

I have three feature scripts I'm working on. One is very dark but could actually be shot with a fairly low budget. The second is more of an exercise at an adaptation and the third, I'm about to start researching and is ridiculously ambitious. I also have some other ideas for low-budget shorts but my biggest project at the moment is trying to pay off the credit cards that enabled me to make the last one!

The Aesthetica Short Film Festival is the first film festival ever to be hosted in the historic city of York. The festival is a celebration of independent film from across the world with 150 films being screened from 30 countries. ASFF opens 3 November and continues until 6 November. For tickets and further information visit the website www.asff.co.uk or call (+44) (0) 1904 629 137.

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