Exclusive Interview with Monique Needham – “A BAFTA Short Film Award would be amazing!”

Have you ever been in a situation where you are on a date, everything seems to be going well but as soon as you and your date are presented with the bill, the tone of the date unexpectedly changes? Well, Cashpoint is a film which hilariously tells a tale of a young woman who goes on an internet date which ends in a very unpredictable way. We had the chance to talk to the talented Monique Needham about what inspired her to write this story, her dream cast, what she hopes people will take away from the film and what other film festivals she would like to see Cashpoint screen at.

Hi Monique, how are you doing?

I am doing really well thank you. Currently getting ready for our first screening at London Independent Film Festival and preparing for my next short film. So busy times at the moment.

Congratulations with your wonderful “Cashpoint”. Where did the idea for this film come from?

Thank you very much. It’s based on a real-life situation which I elaborated for the purpose of the film. Someone I know told me a story about a date where the guy went off to get cash when the bill arrived. When he returned he had no cash and she ended up paying for the bill. I wondered when he went off walkies what did he actually get up to, so Cashpoint is my elaborated theory. 

Why did you choose this story as your directional debut?

I wanted to do something simple but with a twist at the end. I had a few ideas and prior to making Cashpoint but they didn’t feel quite right or they were too complex and would have required a much bigger budget. I say bigger budget as though I had a budget at all, Cashpoint was completely self-financed and that definitely had an impact on why I chose this story. I wanted to be able to focus on telling a story the best I could and Cashpoint (which previously was called Dates up until the final cut) was the perfect story.  

This film is about the date between Camille and Craig and the aftermath of that. Because of that, the chemistry between Ani Nelson and Kadeem Pearse needs to be excellent, which it is. How did you find your two leading actors?

I knew Ani from a previous project I worked on called Housemates, which was a series about five girls who lived together. When I finished the first draft of Cashpoint I thought of Ani and sent it to her to read, I wanted to know if she would be interested. She loved it and said yes then 7 versions later we had a final script and was ready to shoot. Then came the search for Craig which was not as easy, people I had seen just did not work for me, in my head at the time the only way this is going to be believable is if the dynamic strongly worked between the Camille and Craig otherwise it just wouldn’t work. Ani introduced me to Kadeem as she had previously worked with him before. When I met him I knew he was perfect. The dynamic between them was spot on. Our first rehearsal when I saw them read their lines together it confirmed to me that I had made the right choice. 

Let’s imagine that for your next film you can have your dream cast, who would that include?

That is an exciting question because if you asked this question 10 years ago my answers would probably be filled with American talent but the UK is filled with such talent and they are finally getting recognition now so my dream cast are from, good ol’ London town. 

So here is my list, Lashana Lynch, Leticia Wright, Daniel Kaluuya, Damon Idris and Ashley Thomas. 

The actors and actresses that are coming out of the UK just make me so excited. I am so proud of them even though I don’t know any of them personally

After writing that list I’m tempted to write a script just so I can cast them all at the same time.

“Cashpoint” will soon have its world premiere at the London Independent Film Festival [the 12th of April]. Excited about that?

I am very excited. I remember when I received the email from them, I was just getting over the rejection from another festival. It was my first rejection of for Cashpoint and I was in a bad mood because of it. When the email from LIFF appeared in my inbox I thought it was another rejection, read the email and then closed it. I didn’t process that is said ‘accepted’. A few hours later I read it again and then the excitement began to grow. I even did a happy dance on my Instastories. I have never had my work screened at a festival before so I am just going to enjoy it. 

What do you hope that people will take away with them after watching it?

Keep your wits about you in all situations not just dating. But also sometimes you have to look back on situations in life and just laugh because what Craig did is not funny because it’s comical but it’s funny because you would never expect or believe someone would do something like that. 

Are there already other film festivals this film will be screened at?

Not yet but notification dates are coming up now so fingers crossed.

What would be the most awesome film festival for you to go to with “Cashpoint”?

A Bafta Short Film Award would be amazing!

 

Liselotte Vanophem – Just Celebrity Magazine Film Reporter

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