5 questions with Steak Knife director, Ben Gutteridge at the half-way mark.
Sunday, June 11th, 2017
1Hi Ben! Thanks for being a part of our festival. First, this film is insane! What was the initial seed that inspired you to make Steak Knife? Hi there, I wanted to write something that played with status, power and tonally had my dark, twisted sense of humour. Also, I tend to gravitate towards certain themes, one of which is the idea of projected perceptions - the fact that we tend to project our own ideas/ideals of people onto them and how that can be very different to the reality - particularly Men's stereotypical projected ideals of women. So, he meets this "perfect girl" (in his eyes) and he thinks she needs rescuing - when in fact, she's the one in control, and nobody's perfect. Plus, I thought it was funny, in a Roald Dahl-esque kind of way.
2This film is very uncomfortable to watch but it's also very captivating because you have no idea where this film is going. What is it about this twisted type of storytelling that attracts you? Great question - I'm glad you reacted to it in that way! I tend to read a lot of short stories and love a twist. I've always loved Roald Dahl's adult fiction, Kafka's stories, the work of Haneke, H.Pinter, Lynch, Ozon, Polanski, Lanthimos's Dogtooth etc , Kubrick, M.Powell, M.Antonioni, Fincher, Mendes, De Palma, Hitchcock etc and their use of dark suspense, power, sex and humour and I guess Steak Knife was the beginning of my versions of those kind of stories.
A few years ago I sat down and wrote a list of my favourite films/books/plays/stories and I realised they almost all had common themes, namely Obsession, Voyeurism, Sex, Secrets, Suspense, Status, Power, Love and they were almost all thrillers, mostly with heart and a smile. That's what I want to make, so now when I have an idea or I'm sent a script, I ask myself, "would you love watching this?"
I like Fincher's quote that people are perverts - I think he's right, there is something innately perverted/voyeuristic about the cinema. For me, all good films are thrillers, even if it's just two people talking in a room, that can be completely thrilling, it's all about the S's: Suspense, Status, Secrets and usually, Sex.
3Once you realize what awaits George, it's also very touching and sad because we know Julia is following the wishes of her mother. It's such a wonderful ending and I'd love to hear how the reactions have been towards your film. How have people responded to it? What's been the most surprising thing about screening this film? Thank you. While I love dark and sexy, I always want things to have heart and humour. Ha, great that you think they're mother and daughter! I can see how you got there (although Cara - who plays Sara - is only a couple of years older than Aimee-Ffion - who's Julia). For me though, the idea is that they're flatmates in a weird relationship themselves, where Julia plays the submisssive to Sara but actually, she has the control. If you look, Sara panics at one point when she loses control and at the ending ( the climax ) Julia smiles as she looks into his eyes - it's all a game she's playing. She lures him in and wants to be treated like she does as its part of her sick fantasy. It's funny, some people hate this film (like my mum) and some LOVE it - I'm fine with that, It's better than indifference.
I think the surprise was seeing the first cinema screening, I realised that some films are the same big/small - this isn't. The sound is so important - the bass disappears on small speakers so the film feels flat but we spent ages constructing the bass in the music and the mix and in a cinema it rumbles through you in a way that is really unsettling. Headphones and full screen please!
4What's the strangest date you've ever been on? Haha, another great question! Well my dating days are gone as I'm a happily married man, but I do remember going to the pub with a buddy once and we sat next to a random couple on a date - the twist being that she ended up coming home with us instead...
(There's a film in there somewhere).
5What's next? FEATURES! - Having worked as a Director in various countries on Commercials and TV Drama etc I feel more than ready to make my first feature. To be honest, everything I've done before feels like training to starting in features, when I'll really get to be myself and tell my kinds of stories. That being said, I will keep making shorts too and I'm aiming to make another asap that will again have my personal take on things, possibly one that's based on my feature I want to make next year, as a kind of run-up/pitch film.
Currently, I'm living in Los Angeles and my US Manager/UK Agent and I are pushing my Features and TV Drama projects, full on. I write new ideas all the time and have several short and feature scripts ready to go. I even have a kind of Steak Knife sequel that I'd like to make, that could also potentially become a feature.
Oh, and I have another little short that I'm currently cutting, that I shot on a whim at Sundance this year when ARRI lent me a camera. That's apart from making the usual commercials etc for work. - So, "lots" is the short answer to your question!
About the Interviewer: Ben Hicks
Ben Hicks is a writer/director and co-founder of Fandependent Films. Ben is currently working on making Fandependent Films awesome and is finishing up his first feature film entitled Kids Go Free to Fun Fun Time which was selected for the 2017 IFP Narrative Lab.
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