Pity the Hollywood film executive. If you think you’re sick of getting a steady barrage of YouTube videos forwarded to you day after day, imagine how they must feel, having to scour through all the noise in search of the odd glimmer of talent. So what is it about a short video that’s enough to capture the attention of a seen-it-all audience, and then land its creators a studio project?
British filmmakers Tom Jenkins and Simon Sharp put out a short this past January called Address is Approximate. In under three minutes, it revealed a fully realized vision of sympathetic inanimate objects at play. Although it perhaps owed a debt to Pixar, Address possessed a style all its own. The short attracted well over a million views in under a week. Six months later, the duo released Speed of Light, a short that projected a tiny police chase on various surfaces of a room, and integrated background elements into the pursuit. It was another viral hit.
On October 3, the pair, who run commercial production studio, The Theory, signed with Sony to rewrite and direct the upcoming sci-fi film Giants. We talked to them about their path to feature filmmaking.
Co.Create: Who are you?
Tom Jenkins: We met at a live events/corporate production company way back in 2000. I was right out of university and Simon had come from a production job at Channel 4 TV. We actually started at the production company the same week and being newbies we stuck together and struck up a friendship. After a couple of years we teamed up with another couple of guys from the production company and decided we would attempt to do it better, so we left to form our own company: Theory.
How do you function as a team?
Simon Sharp: We just collaborate really well together. Being good mates means we know each other inside out, so when we write and direct we both act as filters for each other to ultimately come up with (hopefully) good results. And we’re not afraid of arguing our point either–sometimes arguing can be healthy!
What makes a good short video, in your estimation?
Tom Jenkins: When we watch shorts we tend to watch the first minute and if it’s slow and cryptic we click off…move on to the next one. But these days a lot of shorts are being made that will get big audiences because they’re made to entertain in the way movies do. It’s fine to watch a pondering allegory about death or something, but it’s also nice to watch a bit of joyous cinematic entertainment.
What happened after Speed of Light and Address is Approximate that lead to the deal for Giants?
Tom Jenkins: After Address Is Approximate we were signed by the ultimate talent agency in Los Angeles: William Morris Entertainment. They’re amazing and represent the best people in films so we were thrilled. Then we began meeting people, reading scripts, focusing on what we really want to do and trying to get it done. We started making Speed of Light before Address came out, and when we finally finished that in May this year we showed it to Sony Pictures, who loved it. We all felt that our creative sensibilities, which can be seen in both our shorts, would be perfect for Giants. We still can’t believe it, but we’re not taking anything for granted–this is where the hard work begins!
What part about making a feature are you most looking forward to?
Simon Sharp: Right now–getting down to rewriting the script. Giants has such a great premise, but we want to take it to the next level.
If you could remake any movie, what would it be?
Tom Jenkins: Brewster’s Millions. It’s the ultimate wish fulfillment fantasy, and a really great concept.