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How Gus Filgate Used the Power of Food to Cross Generations in Pie



Granny and grandson swap roles in moving Carers Trust short

How Gus Filgate Used the Power of Food to Cross Generations in Pie

Life for young carers is tough, but instead of focusing on the stresses and difficulties such responsibility places on young shoulders, a new short for UK charity for The Carers Trust looks at the love, personal strength and precocious maturity involved. Little Fish Films co-founder and director Gus Filgate collaborated with writer Paul Quarry to cook up a touching film about an elderly woman and her carer grandson. Starring up-and-coming actor Conner Chapman, the short sees the boy painstakingly make a pie for his grandmother just as she had done for him. LBB’s Laura Swinton caught up with Gus to find out more. 

LBB> What was the original brief and what was it that leapt out and grabbed you about it? How involved were you in developing the story and concept?

GF> The concept was to make something completely different. The script began with me, but evolved and grew with the genius help of Creative Director Paul Quarry.

LBB> The short is very different from a lot of work on your reel, which is very food-focused. Why did you want to try something different? 

GF> Food is central to so many emotional moments in our lives, yet in my usual work I rarely get a chance to explore it that way. Mostly I am asked to film food so that it looks mouth-wateringly appetizing. This film is different. It is a story in which the food is a message from a boy to his Grandma. I adore the idea that in this story it is a simple recipe that shoulders the weight of love.

LBB> The music choice is lovely - what's the name of the track/artist and why did you go for that one? 

GF> The track is GRANDMA by CRAIG CARDIFF a Canadian folk singer/songwriter. In it, the song gives thanks to a Grandma for all the love she has shown over the years. It is SO beautiful. It seemed like the perfect fit because the film itself is like a twisted version of the song. 

I wanted to create a very softened and internal disappointment for the boy at the end of the film. There is no rage at being let down by his Grandma, no frustration. Just enduring love. I wanted to feel the gentleness that this boy has inside him, that we all have; and this song seemed to do it perfectly. 

LBB> And who did you work with on the music?

GF> I am very grateful to Craig Cardiff for generously donating his track to the film and to all the people who made that connection possible. Simon Bass, Jason Peacock and Tracey Gascoyne at Pure Soho did both the sound and the music for me. They are some of my most favorite people in the world and always a joy to work with.

LBB> How did you cast the film and what was it about your two actors that made them right for the roles?

GF> I was very lucky to work with Conner Chapman, an amazing young actor. His agent made contact with me when she heard of the project on the grapevine and from the moment I saw a still photo of him I hoped he would be good. He is amazing. Conner has a gift for giving us his personality in every action he does. 

Check out the ‘The Selfish Giant’ (Dir Clio Barnard), which Conner was in. Nominated for best British film 2014 at Bafta; lost to Gravity.

Casting for granny was a huge surprise because I was blindsided by an afternoon of unexpected tears. The ladies I met in the casting are all the lucky ones; old yet still full of beans, mostly unscathed. All of them carry stories of friends and family way less lucky, so Bryony (the producer) and I were choked, speechless and teary over and over. It was grueling as it happens! In the end we chose Rita Davies because she gave the most lovely portrait.

LBB> In terms of the pie making scene, how far was Conner left to his own devices?

GF> Totally. Conner and I spent a day cooking together before filming, but apart from that I just showed him where everything in the kitchen was and filmed him doing it a few times. I wanted to film as much as possible unrehearsed and also to capture ‘from the hip’ rather than having a series of staged setups shot by shot.

LBB> The role swap between the gran and the carer was portrayed in quite a subtle way (the gran's attempts to keep her eyes glued to the screen was a very familiar teenager gesture!) - why was it important to keep it restrained?

GF> You are so right. A boy swaps places with his granny who was pushing him on the swings just a few moments ago. It’s a tough place for both of them. To me the heart of the relationship I wanted was tenderness. He just cares.

Most of us rage and complain when we do not get the thanks we deserve, but this boy doesn’t. This is so grown up. He is way more grown up than me and my wife for starters. So I wanted to try and tell this with as light a touch as I possibly could…to highlight how he has grown into this very unusual maturity through constant caring. 

LBB> It's a very emotional short to watch but, paradoxically perhaps, the story is quite simple and it's not sentimental or melodramatic - how did you achieve that combination?

GF> Simple is a great compliment so thank you. You are right, the idea was to have no big drama. Charity films often bludgeon us with hard-hitting facts and figures, so we become immune. Of all the charity’s the Carer’s Trust seem to have an especially hard time getting into our consciousness, so it was vitally important to take a different tack. 

I felt right away that it should be about empathy not sympathy. That could be my mum. That could be me. If there’s a chance that we see ourselves in the story just a little, then perhaps we will engage with Caring, and decide to support it. 

I think we managed to achieve a film which is both emotional and understated. How? I think we kept it simple through constant reference to that ideal, and because Conner is a great actor.


Gus Filgate – writer and director

Paul Quarry – co-writer & creative director

Connor Chapman – Teen lead

Sophie Cowling - executive producer

Bryony Harrison - Producer

Craig Cardiff - (Composer and singer, soundtrack, “Grandma”)

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Categories: Charity, Corporate, Social and PSAs

Little Fish Films, Wed, 04 Jun 2014 15:53:25 GMT