Last year, director Ashley Tabatabai delighted the film world with his short movie Falsified and now, he’s back with The Interview. While Tabatabai took on the writing side of this film, Stefan Fairlamb sat in the director’s chair. We caught up with Tabatabai to talk about The Interview, his career and what the future will bring him.
Hi Ashley, how are you?
Hi Liselotte, I’m good. Thanks for having me back for another interview. You were so supportive of our last short film, so I really appreciate you covering “The Interview”.
Congratulations on this wonderful movie. Where did the idea for The Interview come from?
Thank you! I think it’s an eclectic mix of a few things. I had initially been thinking of just doing a small scene to keep active. I was drawn to a few movies, such as Nightcrawler, and liked the idea of an interview set up. I suppose that was the spark. However, as always, these things take on a life of their own and we decided to make it a fully-fledged short film. I’ve had a lot of experience in Digital marketing over the last 10 years or so and that was the catalyst for creating these characters. I’m really intrigued by the role that the internet is playing in our lives and the potential pros and cons of it. What is unarguable is that the Internet is here to stay, and it has and is driving one of the most significant changes in human history. So, “The Interview” is a microcosmic exploration of that. We have a coming together in the new world and the old world. An agile, opportunistic entrepreneur who is leveraging new media as best he can meet with a simpler, “job for life” kind of guy, who is more suited to a bygone era. There were also various influences stemming from the rise in Youtube celebrity culture and we wanted to raise the question of “how far is too far?” when it comes to getting attention on there. I think the platform is an amazing opportunity and a great equalizer. But there’s always the few that do stupid shit and overdo it. Early in the writing process, the Director (Stefan Fairlamb) showed us a video which had gone majorly viral, and it was of some kids cementing one of their heads into a microwave. Not really a talent; but it got attention and was featured on the BBC because they had to call the emergency services! That felt like a sign that this short would resonate thematically with where society is at right now.
In this movie, you’re portrayed Joseph Green, the big boss of a video production company that’s making videos going viral. It’s your character interviewing Robert, portrayed by Scott Michael Wagstaff. How did you come across Scott?
Interestingly, everyone who worked on this film is someone I’ve collaborated with in the past. I’m really big on finding your group of people that you can come together and create with. When it comes to Scott, we met something like 4 or 5 years ago at acting class in London (Anthony Meindl’s Actor Workshop). We were in another project together back in 2015/2016 called “Color Me Grey” which was a proof of concept TV pilot about two men trying to climb the criminal ladder in the underworld of an inner city. He had the right energy for the Robert character and came out with a great performance that precisely highlighted the polarity between him and Joseph Green.
You wrote this film but also starring it. Did you write the character of Joseph while having yourself in mind to play him or how did it work out?
Simple answer, yes!
For your role in this movie, you recently won the award at the Oniros Film Festival for Best Actor. What went through your mind when they announced that you’ve won?
I don’t know really. Very grateful to have received it and been acknowledged. I’m thinking back and I don’t recall having an extreme emotion/reaction in either which way. I think that’s more because I’m in the midst of writing 3 new projects rather than anything else. Oniros have been really great proponents of our work, including some of the wins my last short got at their festival. For me, the recognition is awesome, but I’m kind of in the headspace of the next batch of projects I’m working on.
How long did it take to make this film? From creating the idea to the very last minute of post-production.
It was around 7 months from first starting the script to the final cut. Probably 9 months or so to account for brainstorming the idea and ruminating on it. The core of the script was done in around 2/3 months, always tweaking till shoot day of course! Pre-production was a 3 and half month process. The biggest part of that was finding the right location. We scouted a few but lucked out when we came across the American diner we used. Firstly because it was the ideal aesthetic and secondly because the owners and staff were massively accommodating to us!
What was the hardest thing while making this movie? Any unforeseen circumstances you had to overcome?
All in all, it was a pretty fluid shoot. I can’t think of any major difficulties that came up. The most drawn-out thing was finding the right location. But that’s part and parcel of the production process. And that in itself was more a case of being patient rather than something that was hard to handle.
This is your 5th film as a producer and you acted in a lot of films as well. When did you know that you wanted to become part of the film industry?
I always like this question and find it gets asked a lot. I don’t have one defining “Eureka!” moment, I’m not even sure if it happens that way!? I knew I enjoyed filmmaking and acting from when I was a teenager. But that enjoyment didn’t translate to “I can do this as a career” at the time. I just did it. And then over time that doing and experience became what it is now. For a more meta answer, unconsciously I probably knew when I was a little kid. But then that’s only apparent on hindsight and after delving into some full-on Freudian shit! 🙂
One last question: Do you already have any other upcoming projects.
I do! I kinda eluded to it earlier, I’ve got 3 other short film scripts I’m writing at the moment. Each very different in terms of theme/genre and production value. One is more of an action piece where I’m looking to incorporate some of my training in JKD (Jeet Kune Do), the other is a political drama. And the biggest project is a straight up drama inspired by personal events. Beyond that, I’m also working on the feature film version of my last short film “Falsified”. The response from it was that many people didn’t know about Spain’s stolen babies scandal and wanted more of the story.
Liselotte Vanophem, Film and Celebrity Reporter – Just Celebrity Magazine