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28 October 2014
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Films

Kevin Powis (left) directs Lewis Harwood
Kevin Powis (left) directs Lewis Harwood

New film: Expresso

Halesowen filmmaker Kevin Powis has made a ten minute movie with a cast that includes Sir Norman Wisdom, Geoffrey Hughes and Don Warrington. And it's being premiered at Cannes! We caught up with Kevin for a chat.

So, Kevin, tell us a bit about yourself.

Sir Norman Wisdom
Sir Norman Wisdom in Expresso

Well, I'm based in Halesowen. I formed the film production company, Lastindependent.com, in 2003 and since that time I have managed to effectively merge drama productions with commercial work.

I mix and match as opportunities present themselves. Sometimes I'm directing a £30K corporate film and sometimes a low budget drama.

Your new film is called Expresso. What's it about and where did the idea come from?

Expresso is a series of micro short films based around the different characters that frequent one table during one day in a coffee shop (Hence the title, Expresso, being a play on the words express or fast and espresso - as in the coffee).

The idea came about when an actor/producer friend, Martin Nigel Davey, who I'd worked with before, approached me about an idea he had for a story called "Breakfast With DeNiro" set in a coffee shop.

Guy Henry
Guy Henry in Expresso

He also mentioned other ideas that could take place in the same setting. So I suggested we throw the idea out to wider collaboration and I put out a call over the internet for stories that would be appropriate.

What happened next?

Well after I put out the call for story ideas, almost instantly we received over 150, so Nigel and myself selected what we thought were the best eight - taking up circa 10-minutes of screen time and I reworked them into the first draft of a screenplay and sent it off to the film council with an application for funding.

The Film Council appointed script advisor said it was the best script he'd read that year which was very gratifying especially for a first draft.

Visually, the film looks stunning. I'm guessing that a lot of your budget went on production values…

Well, you are given £8,500 budget by the film council when they commission the work and we spent all that on production value and a few expenses. The movie looks like a million dollars on the screen. Every shot and scene is carefully staged and blocked.

Geoffrey Hughes
Geoffrey Hughes in Expresso

I storyboarded and created the shots list I wanted and DOP Simon Wyndham and Cameraman David Reynolds-Lacey delivered exactly what I wanted.

Even though it's a short film, you've got some really big names appearing in it. How did you get actors like Sir Norman Wisdom to agree to do a ten minute short film?

While I worked on the rewrites, Nigel managed to start getting various drafts of the script in front of some great named actors and while he discussed this with them I reworked the scenes again with each of them specifically in mind.

The result was with Nigel's contacts and the script tailored to the individual actors, we gathered a fantastic collection of named actors - who all loved the scripts and therefore were willing to appear in an eight grand digital short shot in the Black Country!

Looking back, on a scale of one to ten, how hard was getting this thing made, from start-to-finish?

Ivania Elena and Martin Nigel Davey
Ivania Elena and Martin Nigel Davey

It has to be ten. It represents a year each of Nigel's and my own life. A lot of stress and strains, chasing the funding and the named actors and a high octane post production period where I was editing for eight hours solid almost every day to hit the deadlines.

So what's next? What are your future plans?

For the immediate future? Well Nigel and myself are wrapping the film in style with a premier in Cannes in May. Our first task is to get the film seen by as many people as possible. We'll be following up with numerous UK screenings.

For the longer term after Expresso, I will continue to use corporate work as a vehicle for research and development funding for my interactive video ideas.

On the drama side I think Nigel and myself make a good team and we have lots of ideas, so I hope we can work as a team again. We set out with one task in mind - to show what we could do with even a modest budget and we are both really pleased with the result.

Vincent Franklin
Vincent Franklin in Expresso

But I think we are both looking to work with larger budgets that require fewer favours to be called in to deliver the production values we both demand in future. I hope Expresso which came in on time and under budget will convince funders to trust us with funding that has a few more zeros on the end.

On a different tangent as if we didn't have enough to do Nigel and I are also considering taking Expresso and reworking it into a stageplay - no one can say we hang about or lack ambition!

All photos on this page by Darren Seymour, official stills photographer for Expresso.

last updated: 07/05/07
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