“Serial Cheat”, Interview with Director Anthony Sutcliffe

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When the FinalBoss overlords don’t have me locked up in a cage, begging for scraps and crafting articles on Joe Pesci Hot-or-Not lists alongside 999 other apes at typewriters you’ll usually find me pushing my filmmaking career. Today is one of those days.

Wind the clock back two months, and I submitted a short script involving a young 21st Century couple; all about their viewing habits. Chloe comes home to confront her boyfriend, Greg, grilling him for a moment before he can’t take anymore and admits to watching the latest Game of Thrones without her. Naturally, it is only treated like truly the greatest of betrayals as the relationship quickly unravels…

Now with the release of latest short, “Serial Cheat“, directed by Anthony Sutcliffe and starring Josie Charles and Will Kirk, FinalBoss has been kind enough to let me do a write up on it. Via email, Anthony talked about the process of filming the short, how it came to being, and the current state of how we as fans consume television.

FinalBoss: What are you watching at the moment?

Anthony Sutcliffe: Television was traditionally produced to a much lower standard than cinema, and so film-lovers tended to be a bit snobby about TV.  I’ve realised that I have kept up this bad habit of mostly watching films, to the detriment of keeping up with the world class TV that is so consistently produced – although I did see The Wire and Breaking Bad. So I’m changing that this year and catching up on all the box sets I should have watched!  I recently finished the BBC’s Night Manager and have one episode to go in Bodyguard, both of which have been superb.  I’m starting on Killing Eve next and then will move onto some American shows, either Band of Brothers or Stranger Things.

What’s been on your Watchlist for the longest and you still haven’t gotten round to seeing?

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My passion for film began with falling in love with classical Hollywood cinema as a teenager, so over the years I’ve managed to see most of the classic films that people say you should see before you die.  So of the older films, probably Barry Lyndon has been on there the longest. My embarrassing omissions are generally more contemporary – I’ve only seen 4 of the MCU films so I should probably catch up on some of those too! But it’s quite daunting when you’re 14 films behind!

Did you watch much Frasier back in the day…?

Ha! The reference to Frasier in the script was one of those moments that really struck a chord with me. I watched the first season of Friends and thought it ended nicely and I never wanted to revisit it for the subsequent seasons – so I struggle a bit with the amount of love that show gets compared to Frasier. Whereas I watched the whole series of Frasier when it first went out, and a few years ago I went back and rewatched it all again. I think it’s the greatest sitcom of all time.

Image result for frasier

Why did you take “Serial Cheat” on?

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Because it mentioned Frasier…

But also, I recently created a series of short monologue films, partly because I love the form but partly also because it’s much easier to produce films with only one actor in them!  However I was advised that I needed to show I could work with multiple actors if I wanted to get directing work, so I put out a call on a filmmaking mailing list for scripts with 2 or more actors in the same room. Of the 40 or so submissions I received, this one jumped out because of the way the dynamic between the characters shifted throughout the film, which makes it much more interesting to direct.

Behind the scenes of Serial Cheat directed by Anthony Sutcliffe

Obviously how we watch television has changed so much, and Serial Cheat ties in this sort of “Netflix and Chill” movement of ease that we find ourselves in right now. Do you like the accessibility of it all?

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I think it’s fantastic!  Part of me romanticises the days when you’d scour the TV guide to see what films were going to be on TV this week and set them to record, because if you missed them, it might be a couple of years before they would roll around again.  You’d have to really seek out films you wanted to see – I had to order a VHS of John Woo’s Hard Boiled from a specialist importer! So watching a classic film really felt like an event. I think this excitement has been lost to an extent – I have 50+ films I want to see waiting to be watched on various streaming services. But surely it’s better overall to be in a time when you can have access to watch almost any film you want, whenever you want?

What shows are you most looking forward to on the horizon?

No question for me, the show I’m most looking forward to is the final season of Game of Thrones.  At first I found the series almost a guilty pleasure but I think it really found its feet after the first season or two.  I love how frequently it has wrongfooted the audience, meaning I fear for my favourite characters in every scene. I have no idea how it’s going to end but I can’t wait to find out!

What else have you got coming up?

I enjoyed making Serial Cheat so much that I’m keen to move onto the next production as soon as I can.  I’m looking to shoot another short film but this time on a bigger scale. I’m writing a short thriller set on the Yorkshire moors, about an elderly lady who shelters two young hikers overnight from a storm. But none of the characters are what they seem… obviously! But I’m also open to great submissions from other writers.

Serial Cheat is out now and available to watch here:

Anthony can be found at @asutcliffe and www.anthonysutcliffe.com

The Walking Dead Season 9 is out now. Frasier will probably be on Channel 4 at some point over the next few days. Head this way for more FinalBoss interviews!


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