Words: Simon Paterson
Images: Undrell Films
On the set with Kai Undrell
I am, or was, a movie buff, so you can imagine my excitement when 18 year old Kai Undrell, local film maker and student at Chesterfield College, called to invite us to the set of his new short film, ‘Stand Up’, for an interview!
I arranged to go and see ‘Stand Up’ being filmed at The Avenue night club, where cast members and crew were filming a scene.
Kai gives me a quick overview of the film “The lead character is a troubled, loathsome comedian called Daniel Lawrence. He is making a big return to stand-up comedy after an emotional breakdown. His manager is somewhat of a tyrant which makes for an interesting dynamic."
The script, by Kai, was initially 92 pages long however, Harry Bracken, the Assistant Director, said “never gonna happen, that’s a one-and-a-half-hour feature film with no budget, let’s be realistic here, so Stand-Up will be a 40 minute short film”. "It’s important to have someone keeping things realistic and putting me in my place, we work really well together" said Kai.
I was interested to find out more about Kai and the film…
Have you always had an interest in film?
“Ever since I can remember, from a very young age, I would watch films repeatedly, it was pretty much my life. Over-time it progressed into a desire to work in the industry in any capacity possible. Surprisingly none of my family have a passion for films so I have always felt a like a bit of an odd ball. My father is into DIY and my mother and sister love the outdoors, I’m good with my movies!”
What made you pursue a career in film making?
“Well, I am pretty rubbish at everything else but seem to be OK at this, or so I've been told! It’s the only thing that causes a spark and ignites a passion in me. I get an adrenaline rush from almost every part of the production process. To paraphrase Stanley Kubrick: The scariest feeling in the world is when you are about to walk into the studio for a shoot, and the greatest feeling is releasing a film into the world!”
What roadblocks have you faced?
“Still being in college carries the stigma of being a student film maker, and it’s hard to disassociate yourself from that and you can be quite overlooked by the industry, but I believe I am at the fore-front of independent film makers and this will change soon enough. Working independently, you aren’t attached to any major production company so you’re standing on your own two feet. This has advantages, but can also leave you a little bit stranded, there’s only you to build the life-boat!
“The cast and crew are amazing and work so hard, because they believe that the independent film industry needs to be kept alive. In the modern film industry, there is no middle ground between a huge budget and no budget, you’ve either got it or you haven’t. It has always been very a dog eat dog industry and a thousand good moves can be over shadowed by one bad move, you have to be careful…but nothing ground breaking was ever produced without taking a few risks!”
When do you anticipate the film will be released and where can we watch it?
“We can’t release the film until after the round of film festivals where you need your own premier, so it’s difficult to say, but please keep an eye on my YouTube channel Undrell Films and our social media pages as I post any updates there. I have couple of short films in there already, in fact one of them was filmed at West Studios, where your office is!”
The team were just packing up after a long day on set, but I managed to accost Steve Dolton, the male lead in the film to ask him a few questions.
Steve, what’s it like working with Kai?
“It’s great, he’s young enough not to be cynical!” jokes Steve.
“He is on a creative path and has lots of talent, so I knew this would be interesting to do. Some of the best work I’ve done is with new directors, they’re not inhibited by the constraints of the business. He has his eye on the game and his originality will see him go far.”
Which filmmaker has influenced you the most?
Steve: “Dustin Hoffman has been a big influence and of course the Cohen Brothers are magnificent. Local director (Nottingham) Shane Meadows is a favourite but so far, he has managed to miss working with me.”.
Kai: “I am obsessed with the horror genre so, Carpenter and Cronenberg have a big influence on me. I also love the way Tarantino constructs his characters and the dialogue he writes, well…”
"We are pitching Stand-Up personally to potential investors (production companies and/or funding bodies) toward the end of this year, with the idea of expanding it into a feature-length film!"
Ok so last question: you are having a dinner party and can invite one person each, dead or alive, who do you invite?
Steve: “Neil Young what a singer songwriter he is…”
Kai: “One million percent David Bowie!”
Simon: Wow neither of you picked an actor or director, maybe you should start careers in music!