Derin Seale on making ‘The Eleven O’Clock’ with Josh Lawson and Damon Herriman
Damon Herriman and Josh Lawson in 'The Eleven O'Clock'.
One of the highlights of this year’s Flickerfest is The Eleven O’Clock, a comedy written by and starring Josh Lawson, alongside Damon Herriman.
The short follows a delusional patient of a psychiatrist who believes he is actually the psychiatrist. As they both attempt to treat each other, the session spirals increasingly out of control. Alyssa McClelland also stars.
Flickerfest marks the film’s Aussie debut, having already screened at the 2016 LA Shorts Fest, where it took out Best Comedy, as well as Valladolid International Film Festival and Toronto Short Film Festival.
With the film only just starting its run, director Derin Seale told IF the success so far was unexpected.
“I made it for my mum, really; it’s all a bit surprising that people want to watch it,” he laughs.
Seale is a long-time friend of both Lawson and Herriman, and had been looking to find the right opportunity to work with both actors for a while. Lawson originally wrote and presented The Eleven O’Clock as a play, but they realised together there was scope for a film.
“It just worked out that this was the perfect story; meaning that it was a two hander in a small space. It was something that we could just do for fun. And it really started out about that, it wasn’t really about proof of filmmaking. It was really about three friends who just wanted to work together,” said Seale.
While the original play was a more of a sketch, they worked to shape the screenplay into something with a bit of mystery. Given that both Lawson and Herriman are also directors, Seale it was a collaborative process the whole way along.
“It was a great way to bring all of us together. And I just wanted to wrangle those two in a room.”
The Eleven O’Clock was shot at Sydney University – the short is set in the ‘70s, and the uni offered the right architecture. The shoot was done in “essentially just one day” said Seale; a challenge as the script was almost 25 pages of dense dialogue.
“We really only could do that because we had such great actors, who had memorised 25 pages of dialogue and we could move really quickly,” he said.
“We funded the film ourselves. We had one weekend really, that both actors were in town… So there was no way to wait for funding, we just had to go ahead and make it."
Lawson and Herriman allowed for a great environment on set, as both are highly-intelligent actors, said Seale.
“There was a lot of discussion and collaboration over every moment; that was exciting. It felt like a workshop in a sense. It was fun, at the end of the day,” he said.
Seale and Lawson also produced the short, alongside Karen Bryson.
Over the years, Seale – son of cinematographer John Seale – has been directing in the advertising space, as well as second unit on different projects (among them Anthony Minghella's Cold Mountain). The Eleven O’Clock was an opportunity for the filmmaker to branch out into more drama.
“This was great little project to exercise a different style of directing. Also genre wise, because I haven’t done a lot of comedy. It was more of an exercise for me, just to have a challenge. Which short films are great for, because there’s no pressure. I certainly didn’t know if it was going to work (laughs). That’s why you do them isn’t it?” he said.
Overall, he’s proud of the end result. “I'm really happy. It was difficult [initially] to understand the tone and what it was going to be; I think it might have been a mystery to other people. I had something in my head and I feel like we got there in the end.”
The Eleven O’Clock screens at Flickerfest tonight and on Saturday as part of the Short Laughs Comedy 2017 section. It’s also been selected to travel the country from January to May as part of Flickerfest’s national tour, which visits over 50 venues across Australia.
Flickerfest wraps on Sunday January 15, with an awards ceremony and screening of the winning films.