‘Dead Dog’ dir. Edward Jeffreys (2008)
A man who fears the worst when his beloved dog goes missing sets out with his girlfriend to confront the local gamekeeper.
‘Dead Dog’ is represented by short film label Dazzle Films
10 Questions for Edward Jeffreys
C8: ‘Dead Dog’ is a captivating and original piece; talk us through the inspiration for the film.
EJ: I grew up on a riding center and my family always had lots of dogs. They would go out on the rides but often didn’t come back straight away with the horses, especially when they were in two’s they would go hunting. Occasionally one would never return and I’d spend days on end looking for it. One day a new gamekeeper moved to the area and we lost two in a month so I was convinced they’d been shot. I confronted him but never found out for sure what happened.
C8: The dance scene evokes ‘Bonnie and Clyde’ and ‘Natural Born Killers’, were these conscious references?
EJ: Bonnie & Clyde, Mickey & Mallory, Clarence & Alabama, Kit & Holly are all massive inspirations and were my favorite characters growing up and still are to this day. This actual dance scene came from a song that I was listening to when writing the film and it just blended into something I knew could be very cinematic.
C8: How did you go about casting the film?; the on-screen chemistry between the two characters is spot on.
EJ: Iain Louden the male lead was discovered by a classmate while we were studying film. He’s not an actor and I don’t think he wants to be one. He’s a stonemason who has a strong screen presence. We did hold a casting but nobody came close. Loren the producer suggested Chloe Bale the female so I watched her showreel and she felt good for the role. The chemistry comes because actors spend all their time together waiting for ages while the crew gets set up. I can understand why so many leading couples fall in love on film sets it creates the perfect environment. I guess the rest is just down to magnets and the pull of the moon.
C8: Where does ‘Dead Dog’ sit in your career, what had you done before?
EJ: ‘Dead Dog’ was my 4th short film. I was 27 when I made it and it was accepted into Edinburgh Film Festival. My 2nd short Suicide Angel had also got into Edinburgh 3 years earlier. I knew not many people could say that. I then applied for funding with Scottish Screen and although I was told I came close they decided not to back me. This was a huge turning point in my career cause I’d worked hard and was bursting with ideas. I had everything in place from my own style to a strong believe I could make good films except a backer.
C8: What were the hardest things about getting the film made? What obstacles did you come across, both in during production and before/after?
EJ: I struggled with the Edit taking a few months to get something everyone was happy with. From the script getting signed off we literally had to shoot in about three weeks, as we needed to spend the funding by a certain date. I’d only written the script a week before that too. With more time to plan we could have nailed the shot list down a bit better which would have helped the edit. On the other hand the fast pace made it easy to focus on what was important for the shoot and not get lost in over thinking, which happened, in the edit.
C8: What, for you, is the essence of a good collaboration?
EJ: Everyone has their own opinion and everyone thinks their opinion is the best so to prevent conflict collaboration needs to exist in a hierarchy that end with the director. The director needs to have an answer for everyone but this will come naturally to the best directors (personal style grows from their default answers). They can’t do it themselves so they have to know how to get what they need from the people around them and so it becomes about having good people skills. Likewise if you’re not the director you need to serve the director’s vision and not your own vision but again this will be easier when working with good directors. Collaboration is essential but you shouldn’t make the mistake of presuming it means equality.
C8: If you could work with anyone in the industry who would it be and why?
EJ: If someone told me tomorrow James Dean had come back from the dead and wanted to be the lead in a new road movie directed by me I think I would be the one to die with happiness. Nothing would be cooler than that but in the real world I’d take anyone who had some spare cash and wanted a good film.
C8: What’s the one piece of advice you wish you’d been given when you were starting out?
EJ: I wish people had told me to make more films. I spent literally all my free time thinking about how I would make films but not so much time actually making them. It’s a lot of fun watching, writing and editing films but actually making them requires a much bigger effort that I didn’t make often enough.
C8: What is your favourite short film and why should we play it?
EJ: Probably ‘Wasp’ by Andrea Arnold. When I was first introduced to Short Films which was pretty much when I started studying film I always felt a wee bit let down that the films ended after 10mins or so and didn’t grow into something bigger and better. But after I watched wasp I was blown away and realized they were just mini films after all.
C8: What next on the horizon for Edwards Jeffreys?
EJ: I now work as a TV producer in the advertising industry and love my job very much but there’s very little spare time for chasing the dream. I know there’s a feature in ‘Dead Dog’ cause I’ve pretty much written it in my head, I just need to get of my arse and put it down on paper.