Official Selection 2013 / Nominated For Best Short Film
Anthony Fox is a very paranoid man. Fleeing a coach crash, he wanders the streets; he’s bloodied and desperate, trusting no-one, switching food orders and behaving erratically. Anthony finally walks into a suburban Police Station and approaches the world weary Desk Sergeant. In a cracked voice he tells him that people are trying to kill him… by accident. When the disbelieving Policeman sighs and asks him their motive, he cryptically replies ‘Art’…
Director: William Jewell
Producer: Daniel Nixon
Writer: William Jewell
Anthony Fox – Luke Treadaway
Sgt Brown – Tim Healy
‘The film is peppered with visual references to art and exhibits very British flashes of black humour or twists on conventions – an Old Lady helps a young man across the road; a man walks into a police station and tries and fails to get himself arrested; a man survives a series of complex accidents, only to be run over by a bus…The artists are framing Anthony’s last hours on earth as a walking, talking artistic statement. The film therefore uses each frame as their canvas and is very deliberately composed and shot. The artists tease Anthony with myriad nods to art and the film contains clues throughout that they are several steps ahead of Anthony. Some of these art references and clues are in the foreground, others require a keener eye or ear, but they are woven throughout the whole film.These art references range from the obvious like the Constable’s mentions of pickled sharks and elephant dung, to the more oblique, like the mystery café takeaway order of ‘Two Fried Eggs and a Kebab’ (a Sarah Lucas piece) which causes a suspicious Anthony to recoil from his food. In the café scene there is a Warhol tin of tomato soup on the newspaper cover being read by the builder wearing the Pollock-esque paint spattered T-shirt.In the street, the swinging van door depicts a stylised unmade bed; the newspaper seller’s name badge reads ‘Marcel’ – a nod to Deschamps the father of Conceptual Art; the Old Lady’s skirt is a Fantin-Latour print (popularised by Peter Saville’s use of it on New Order’s ‘Power Corruption & Lies’ album sleeve); the falling pile of bricks that nearly kill Anthony are a sly nod to Carl Andre’s infamous Tate piece. The YBA artists had a particular taste for the kitsch and bad puns and the Delivery Driver’s hat bears a shocking pun (‘Sol Deliveries’) playing on Conceptual Art guru Sol De Witt.Even Anthony’s final action when all else is lost of urinating against the desk can be read as a nod to Deschamp’s ‘Fountain’ that kick-started the entire Conceptual Art movement. Or it can be read as a reference to the fact that to many, Conceptual Artists are just taking the piss.
An artist’s palette starts with three primary colours – red, green and blue and I designed the film in close conjunction with the art and costume departments. As Anthony seeks sanctuary in the café, he is fearful of the builder in his primary blue T-shirt (who re-appears at the scaffolding). When he walks into the Police Station to try and persuade someone in authority to believe him, the first thing he sees is the primary red of the hoody sat staring at him, red blood tricking down his face. Once Anthony flees in terror from the police station, the catalyst for his fate is a Pet Shop delivery man… dressed in primary green.
If the mid and background of the film are studied, we realise that Anthony’s fate was sealed from the first frame. Having escaped the coach crash, there is reference to a red double decker bus in every scene thereafter. A photograph of a red routemaster clearly adorns the café wall next to the toilet door; several double decker buses pass Anthony in the street scene; adjacent to the police counter is a Rothko-esque picture of vertical red blocks of colour – an abstraction of the double decker bus that will ultimately claim his life.’
Why make a film about Conceptual Artists who kill?
‘Whilst making the feature film ‘South Coast’ I was documenting illegal graffiti artists who worked in the shadows, risking their lives to spray paint trains. This planted the seeds – making me question the boundaries and definitions of what is art. Conceptual art has always been at the forefront of breaking down these barriers – from Chris Burden having himself shot on stage to Mark Quinn draining his own blood to create ‘Self’, conceptual artists have for a long time suffered physically for their art. It wasn’t a huge leap to envisage a conceptual art movement that took this a step further, with their art resulting in harm to others.
Conceptual artist Guilermo Vargas Habacuc already created a hoax about starving a dog to death in a gallery as an art piece. It was easy to see this as a next logical step and ‘Man In Fear’ takes this concept and extrapolates it to its ‘what if..?’ extreme…
‘Man In Fear’ combines this concept with the artists manufacture of ‘random’ events – essentially playing at being God. Conceptual Art – particularly the infamous YBA movement – is based on A Big Idea or Concept and is by turns shocking, self-referencing, knowing and exhibits flashes of black humour. I took these as touchstones for the tone of this film.’
Will Jewell begun making films with the award-wining short comedy ‘Money To Burn’ about inept forgers. He moved on to write and shoot ‘Boglife’ (24 Hours In The Life of a NightClub Toilet, Circa 1990) which was set in the grimy toilets at a rave and ‘Lovebite’ – a dark, twisted noir tale about two strangers meeting in a bar.
Having also directed drama for the web, he directed his first feature film ‘South Coast’: a documentary about the effects of US culture – in the form of hip hop – on British seaside towns. The film won various awards and was selected for over a dozen festivals globally. Will has returned to his narrative roots with latest short paranoid thriller ‘Man In Fear’ which is a window into a world of twisted Conceptual Artists that he intends to explore further in a feature.
Will also has several feature scripts subject to option and has scripted broadcast content for the BBC and SKY and developed and written five web drama series for the BBC and Channel 4, including the BAFTA winning Georgian crime drama ‘Bow Street Runner’.
“Great performances and a real sense of claustrophobia and anxiety throughout.” – Sarah Godfrey
“Confident and edgy.” – Jon Harris
“Great cinematography and strong performances. I loved this.” – Steve Furst
“Really well shot with a use of colour that gives each shot real depth and vivacity. All of the acting is excellent, especially Treadaway. Every shot is really thought through and shows an inherent knowledge of film language. I look forward to seeing more of William Jewell’s work.” – Tim McInnerny