Here at FinalBoss we’re very proud of the interview section of the website, which you can check out here. The aim is to offer our readers an insight into making films. The vast majority of those interviews have been conducted by Jon Holmes. Now we turn the tables. Our Jon has made his own short film, Dogs Chasing Cars, and has had a chat with our Shaun about it.
Shaun, FinalBoss: Before we get into DCC lets get some background. Can you remember how you got really into films?
Jon Holmes: Just through watching them! I loved the idea of becoming a Hollywood actor, and then sort of fell into the writing side of the process, falling in love with that and all the words.
FB: What movies did you love growing up?
Jon: I liked a lot of animation as a kid. Big Wallace & Gromit fan, Jungle Book… then gradually it got a bit more raw, and really started to like Horror and Sci-Fi. I love shit like Evil Dead and Terminator. I recently saw Hardware (1990), and really everyone should watch that.
FB: Tell us some of your favourite movies/directors/writers?
Jon:I love Ben Wheatley, and his “High-Rise”. I watched Robert Egger’s The Lighthouse a few days ago and he’s really doing some fantastic work. I watched a Horror called The Void about a year ago now and still can’t get that out of my mind.
FB: It seems to me shorts are a bit unappreciated, are there any that you’re particularly a fan of?
They’re what came to mind, immediately. But there’s so much out there, you just gotta look. Obviously I come from a sketch comedy background, so it’s always so good to see what people can do with tiny budgets.
FB: At what stage did you decide you wanted to be involved in films?
Jon: Just shooting, and finding my feet through that. Being on proper film sets with Skins… oddly I remember watching Anchorman repeatedly had a big effect on me believing that I could be a filmmaker. Again, sketch comedy – Mitchell and Webb, for example. Even stuff like Vines showed how creative one can be in a short amount of time.
FB: What have you done up until now?
Jon: A lot of sobbing
FB: I know Dogs Chasing Cars is a very personal film, can you tell us about how your experience evolved into a film?
Jon: I’ve done being depressed from 17 years old. It’s this black hole of emptiness where you are very much alone, and can’t express or even talk properly about how you feel and how much it hurts. Dogs came from deciding to record my open feelings when I was feeling at my bleakest. I held on to that recording for two years, and then my cousin, Tom Benoy, pitched shooting it as he could get his hands on the kit we needed for it. It basically went from there. We had a very close working relationship throughout as they’re was so few of us on the crew and we had no money.
FB: Do you think there was some therapeutic benefit to making the film?
Jon: Oddly, yes. I’ve been awfully resentful of the film for the last year, to be honest. In my own self loathing, I kind of hate it. I kind of hate that it’s me, and the fallout in my personal life that came with it after it was made… but now that time is passing, and we’re almost a year on from it being made, I know that I’m glad that it’s out there and that it exists. I think I needed to make it to in my own way try and beat that part of the black dog that was my life at that stage. The accolades have been awfully nice too.
FB: What’s your writing process? Does it ever finish or is the script still being refined during filming?
Jon: Dogs didn’t have a script. It was my rambling that we crafted into an edit, and in turn its own quasi storyline. It depends how tight you want it. Dogs again for example, we played aloud on the shoot so I had something to act against, but another example is that the latest sketch we shot: “Blind Interview” (which is out at the end of this month!) didn’t have any script at all, we just knew what we wanted to shoot and what we were going to say. That sort of process gives so much more freedom to be on the spot and silly.
FB: Knowing you’re going to direct, are you thinking about shots as you write?
Jon: Constantly. And voicing the characters while I’m walking alone. Literally all the time, man.
FB: Once you have a script what’s next?
Jon: That’s the hard part… you have to find a core member of the crew really. Who’s going to direct, who’s your camera operator…? Ask those questions.
FB: You narrate and perform the film, was that always the plan or did you consider getting another actor to do it?
Jon: It was either me on screen or it didn’t get made. This story was just far too me. It couldn’t have been anyone else.
FB: How do you get a budget and crew to make the idea a reality?
Jon: You work your shitty bar job until it hurts and then shoot on your days off.
FB: How long did it take to shoot the film?
Jon: We shot it in two days, in two locations. But with my recording I guess you could technically say it took about two and a half years, start to finish. That’s crazy to think about.
FB: How exciting is it to know the film will be shown at festivals?
Jon: It makes me feel like I’m an actual filmmaker and not some cunt filming for the rest of his life in his mum’s garage.
FB: Are there plans for a wider release?
Jon: We will drop the movie online for everyone to watch (probably) around the end of March… stay tuned.
FB: The film is about mental health, a subject which people seem to be becoming much more aware of and open about it, would you hope it helps people?
Jon: I’d hope so. There’s certainly a changing of the mindset of late. I’m glad people are starting to understand. Dogs was intended as a film that doesn’t sugarcoat anything but rather display it for its brutality, and be frank with a subject that should be taken seriously.
(Jon at the Global Health Film Festival)
FB: What’s next for you?
Jon: We have multiple sketches planned for my Youtube channel, including Blind Interview, and three or so more after that. I’m very excited for them. Otherwise I write for this little site, and we have a big interview coming at the end of the month, that I’m very proud of…
Shaun is FinalBoss’ most prolific cinephile. If he hasn’t seen it, it ain’t worth watching. You’ll find him writing about everything from blowout blockbusters to small-screen splendours as he waits impatiently for Lord of the Rings to be released by Amazon. Catch up with Shaun and see what he’s been watching on www.letterboxd.com/shaun_1982.