‘The Cost of Living’ dir. David Beazley
A dark comedy that focuses on the friendship and betrayal of two childhood friends whose lives have led them down very different paths.
Writer-Producer-Director: David Beazley
DOP: Mike Simpson
Key Cast: Adeel Akhtar, Paul Popplewell, Endy McKay
C8: Where did the idea for ‘The Cost of Living’ come from and how long did it take you to write?
DB: ‘The Cost of Living’ actually came from a play I had written of the same name. I wanted to make a short film for next to no money. I knew shooting in a single location would help with that side of things, and it felt like a bit of a challenge to see if I could make it work. I come from a writing background, so went through my previous scripts to see if anything would fit. I reread the play and thought that it could potentially work. It took about two to three weeks to write.
C8: What was the most difficult part of the writing process?
DB: The most difficult part was condensing the story down to fit into a short film format. Playing around with what to leave in and take out. In the play the characters are developed over the course of 60 pages. It was always going to be difficult to have that same character development with the short. In retrospect, I think I had too much of that in there pushing the duration to around 15 minutes, when 10 minutes would have been a better length.
C8: How did you cast the film and at what point did Adeel Akhtar come on board?
DB: We did the Spotlight and Casting Call Pro casting sessions. We found a couple of really good actors but no one really stood out. Because it’s so dialogue heavy, it had to have great actors who could pull it off. I love Adeel’s work and thought why not contact his agent and see if he’s up for it. To my surprise he was.
C8: Did you set aside any rehearsal time with the actors?
DB: I was able to rehearse a few times with Adeel which really helped. He was awesome and gave everything to the role. Paul came onboard slightly later. Because he isn’t based in London, I was only able to rehearse the day before with him. If I was to do it again, I would try and get more rehearsal time in, but I think that’s always the way!
C8: You’ve primarily made documentary shorts. How did a narrative script alter your directing methods?
DB: I did the same preparation as I would do with documentaries. Meeting and speaking with crew and talent and doing a shot list. So in that sense it was quite similar. However, the shoot was pretty mad. It was two days to get a 15 minute film, which was crazy, but it was all we could afford. To make matters worse, the camera wasn’t working for the first three hours of day one. So it was a lot more stressful than shooting a documentary. Also, my shot list kind of went out of the window as we ran long takes to ensure we got enough courage. It was a good experience though as the cast and crew were great throughout.
C8: Do you have any advice for filmmakers who are directing and producing their own work?
DB: Try not to Produce if you’re Directing. I didn’t choose to do it. Our shoot date had to change because of the actor’s availability. This unfortunately coincided with my producer going abroad. So I had to produce. That side of things isn’t fun as you’re worrying about locations, parking, kit, etc, instead of shot lists and rehearsing. It’s a hard thing to juggle.
C8: If you did the film again would you direct and produce?
DB: No. Unless it was a documentary size crew and we could just run around and film stuff!
C8: What was the most challenging aspect of the shoot?
DB: Lack of time. It should have been at least three days. That was the frustrating side of things as we didn’t have time to really setup some of the shots I wanted to get. It was more the case of running around covering as much as possible. I like running long takes as I feel the actors get more into their roles, but more time would have given me more choice in terms of what shots I could get.
C8: How did you fund the film? Did you receive support from any film organisations?
DB: I did an IndieGoGo campaign where I raised about £1500, I think. I put in a small amount myself. No film organizations unfortunately. That would have helped, as it was really tight in terms of filming what we needed to.
C8: You co-edited the film with Emanuele Giraldo. Talk about the process of editing with someone else.
DB: I actually did a rough cut then got Emanuele onboard. I sent it to him and he was up for taking the project on. We met and spoke about it. He then went away and did three or four cuts over time. With each he would send me the Quicktime and I would speak with him on the phone and email about changes. Generally, it was a good experience. He was doing it as a freebie so I had to wait awhile as he was working on paid projects. I knew that would be the case beforehand though.
C8: You also edited the film. Were there any scenes or sequences that you found difficult to cut? Was there anything that you wanted to include but didn’t?
DB: There were a few lines from Jimmy that we cut. There was a story he tells about how he found the balaclava when he broke into some old woman’s house. It was funny, kind of absurd, but ran too long, so it was cut. I wanted to make it shorter but the problem was in the geography of their positions throughout the film. When we cut some bits it seemed as though they jumped from one position to another. That was the main problem in the edit.
C8: What is the essence of a good collaboration?
DB: I think creatively being on the same page and all being as committed as the each other.
C8: What’s next for David Beazley? Any exciting plans on horizon?
DB: I’m working on a couple of brand films for an agency at the moment. I have a feature documentary that I’m looking to get off the ground, and a feature film that’s in development with a production company. There’s also a couple of short documentaries I’m looking to put in place, hopefully soon. So a mixed bag.