Raindance Film Festival 2021
Shorts Programme: Maverick Senses

Saul Abraham
& Callum Cameron
Enjoy

Winner Best UK Short

Progressive muscle relaxation, Lycra, spoken word. As Michael seeks novel ways to halt his spiralling depression, a moment of hope arrives via an unexpected source.

 

Hey Saul (Director) & Callum (Writer), it's great to talk with you, how have you been keeping during these strange times?

 

Callum: Thanks for having us! We’ve been lucky to have this film to keep us occupied over the last year. We were engaged in pre production in the first lock down and fortunate enough to be able to shoot later that year. It’s been a welcome distraction.

 

Congratulations on having Enjoy at Raindance 2021 where you are nominated for Best UK Short, what does it mean to you to be at the festival?

 

Saul: Thank you very much. It’s an honour to have been selected this year. Because of travel restrictions preventing us from going to other festivals we hadn’t been able to properly see our film on the big screen with an audience so that was exciting.

 

C: It’s also been great to get involved with the Raindance festival spirit by meeting and seeing the work of other filmmakers which we haven’t had the chance to do properly until now. We also both grew up in London so it's great to have a homecoming of sorts for the film here at Raindance.

 

You have had an amazing festival run with Enjoy getting multiple nominations including Best Narrative Short at Tribeca, did you both imagine you would get this type of recognition for your film?

 

S: Not really to be honest! I think that stuff always comes as a surprise. It started out as a passion project between a group of friends so for it to be given the opportunity to be seen by audiences outside of our bubble is a real privilege.

 

Can you tell me a little bit about Enjoy, what inspired your screenplay?

 

C: The screenplay is semi autobiographical. I was struggling with articulating aspects of my own mental health at the time and was interested in exploring why and how that had come to be. I think negative societal stereotypes about depression and how to communicate it are instilled in boys from a young age and at its core Enjoy is about how that inarticulacy can often go on to develop into something more destructive.

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Callum: How much has your background as an actor help to inform the way you approached writing your characters for Enjoy?

 

C: I was always interested in working with new writing as an actor and over the last few years I have written and performed new writing with my theatre company. My background has therefore always involved workshopping and devising scenes with actors in the room and that was no different in developing Enjoy.  Saul and I sat down with Himesh Patel and Maddy Hill early on in the process and workshopped their scenes together. They were invaluable in making the characters of Michael and Katie more authentic and the subtleties of their relationship a lot more believable.

What was it about Callum's screenplay that connected with you as a director?

 

S: Callum so beautifully used that teacher and pupil dynamic as a vehicle to explore those themes on mental health across different generations of males. I was struck by how delicately he handled feelings of misery, guilt, shame and worry whilst still making something warm, hopeful and funny. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry at times and felt connected to Michael, as well as seeing a younger version of myself in Archie.

 

What was the most challenging scene for you to film?

 

S: Definitely the day at the lido. We only had a few hours to get everything we needed - it was freezing cold, pouring down with rain and the pool wasn’t heated. But full credit to Himesh, Jonathan (Aris) and the entire crew for pulling together and getting it done. The circumstances made those scenes so much better than we could have ever imagined.

 

How important is the collaborative partnership between writer and director when working on a short like Enjoy?

 

S: Callum was fully in the trenches with me every step of the way on this. The story is very personal to him so it made sense for him to be part of everything and I loved that collaboration. We developed the script together over a number of years and it became a vehicle in which we were able to talk about our own feelings. We’ve been friends for years but by going through this process together we’ve become closer and able to talk about things more easily than we may have done in the past which is probably the best thing to come out of the film personally. I’m very proud of him.

 

Where did your passion for filmmaking come from?

 

S: I think it's the only thing I can remember being remotely good at to be honest. I was a decent central midfielder actually, then I realised I had no pace or winning mentality.

 

C: Before working on this project I’ve always gravitated more towards the theatre but my Dad used to manage independent cinemas around London when I was young so I like to think that his passion for filmmaking seeped into me through osmosis.

"The excitement was in the doing. I don’t regret any of it because I learnt so much by doing that."

How much has your approach to your films changed since your debut?

 

S: I think this probably goes for a lot of filmmakers but when I was first starting to make films I just wanted to make anything and didn’t really care what it was. The excitement was in the doing. I don’t regret any of it because I learnt so much by doing that. But now I feel like I have something to say and more of a voice so the excitement is in that and how I bring that to screen.

 

Do you have any advice or tips you would offer fellow directors?

 

S: Sorry it's obvious but I’d say just keep making stuff and watching stuff. That process of being inspired, trusting your vision and seeing it work (or more importantly sometimes, not work) is a constant one. Although I do feel I’m still a bit new to be offering tips. I’m always up for getting advice though!

 

And finally, what do you hope people will take away Enjoy?

C: In making Enjoy neither of us have ever wanted to be too didactic about the best way to treat mental health but rather we wanted to try and convey the nuances of depression and how difficult they can be to communicate. Whether that's in the film’s overall aesthetic, one simple frame, or just in one of the jokes.

 

I think if enough people are able to come away from the film having seen that feeling reflected back at them then we’d be pretty pleased.