Interview with Life’s A Show Writer & Director – Harvey Puttock

Last week I posted a short review and link to the comedy short Life’s a Show which I was fortunate enough to be given a preview too.

Afterwards I got to chat to writer and director Harvey Puttock about the film.

If you didn’t get the chance to see the film, you can do so on this link until the 14th July 2021 as part of the Monthly Indies Short Competition. If you read this post after this date, don’t worry as it will be appearing at other festival and be released to the public shortly thereafter.

For now, on with the show!

Life’s A Show

1. Is there some aspect of yourself or indeed in Jon in the character of Matt?

At his very core Matt is just looking for someone to validate and notice him, which is something I think a lot of us can relate to. I think there’s a bit of Matt in all of us. Obviously he takes this to lengths a bit more extreme than most people would!

2.  Do you think that those in the creative arts aside from the income side of things, have generally felt lost and missed out on the feedback and indeed adulation of live audiences these last 18 months?

Yeah for sure, the arts are built on people coming together to be entertained, distracted, educated, provoked and connected, and so without audiences and live interaction there’s been a big part of that process missing. That said, I think artists and creatives have been finding creative ways to adapt to lockdowns and reach audiences by bringing people together in new ways.

3.  Did the Social Distancing rules make it difficult to conceive of the story and indeed produce  LIFE’S A SHOW or did you specifically write LIFE’S A SHOW because you thought it would be a manageable project with all the safety restrictions in place?

Life’s a Show was conceived specifically as a short we could pull off with social distancing and all the Covid-19 guidelines. I wrote it so that the main bulk of it (all the scenes with Matt) could be shot in one day. Then the audience parts were filmed as a mixture of video calls and sending the actors a rough cut which they reacted to whilst filming.

4. LIFE’S A SHOW is generally a very light-hearted and funny story but given the situation, it could have been very easy to write something very dark. Did you consciously set out to make people laugh and get away from their worries?

I definitely set out with the goal of making something fun, there’s already plenty of things that have come out of the pandemic exploring the darker side. I also intentionally never mention coronavirus or lockdown during the film; it’s very clearly a product of it, but I didn’t want to limit the film to being only a response to Covid.

5.  The characters LIFE’S A SHOW are quite resourceful and adaptive to make Matt’s production a success.  Did you and the others involved have to be particularly resourceful and pull strings to get LIFE’S A SHOW made?

I started writing the short about halfway through 2020 with the goal to at least begin shooting it by the end of the year. By the time we got to shooting it, it was December and the tier system was slowly being introduced. This meant we had a very limited window to film in and due to the rule of six everyone on set had to adapt and juggle a few different roles. We didn’t have a lot of budget to play with either so called in favours to borrow equipment and find a location to film at. 

6. Do you think that the Covid pandemic and resulting lockdowns will lead to something of a boom period for Indie films given the complicated logistics & finances involved in making big production and indeed problems with getting large audiences in cinemas to watch them?

I keep seeing people mention that Shakespeare wrote King Lear during a pandemic/plague so there must be some truth to art booming in difficult times! I think it’s certainly a difficult time for indie films but with the introduction of on-set testing and other protocols we’re hopefully through the worst of it. Most people I know seem to be itching to get back to the cinema so I think once it’s safe to have larger audiences cinemas won’t struggle to find them.

7. I myself am one of the 3 million ExcludedUK group who’ve had no support from the government during the pandemic. Whilst its well known that various theatres and large institutions have received at times quite generous support, do you think more needs to be done to support the individuals involved in making tv shows, films and theatre?

Whilst some larger productions were lucky enough to fit within furlough schemes and be eligible for support, a lot of the film industry relies on freelancers who have slipped through the cracks. There definitely should have been more support for the theatre and tv/film industry but arts and culture often seems like an afterthought for the government.

8. What do you think Matt would have said in his monologue if he hadn’t been cut off?

The monologue is Matt reaching the (somewhat misguided) realisation that the more people paying attention to him, the more his life has a purpose so I think it would have led to him looking for ways to reach more people. A joke I originally wanted to have in the film (but was ultimately cut due to time and resources) was him hiring musicians to also join the video calls to score his life.

9. I hope LIFE’S A SHOW is a big success; do you have any other projects that you’re working on that we can keep an eye open for?

Thank you, I’m mostly focussed on the festival run for Life’s a Show at the moment but have started planning out another comedy short film. It will have to wait until covid restrictions relax however as it’s set at a party!

About Stephen Liddell

I am a writer and traveller with a penchant for history and getting off the beaten track. With several books to my name including a #1 seller, I also write environmental, travel and history articles for magazines as well as freelance work. Recently I've appeared on BBC Radio and Bloomberg TV and am waiting on the filming of a ghost story on British TV. I run my own private UK tours company (Ye Olde England Tours) with small, private and totally customisable guided tours run by myself!
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