The narrative of Tom’s Breakfast is born from personal experience, says Ben Garfield, a writer-director based in London, UK. Here’s the film’s backstory.
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How did you get started with this project?
I had the idea for this film while doing a meditation. It just kind of hit me. That’s what I really enjoy about meditating - when you can get into that state all that weird stuff in the back of your mind comes to the fore. It can feel like catching an idea that's been lurking somewhere. I'm probably not meditating correctly though, if breakfast ends up being what I think about!
How did you develop the story?
It’s born from personal experience. My breakfast is usually fruit and yogurt. You know, every three days you have to open a new pot. I’ve had that moment of it happening, the yogurt splattering on my shirt. You have that brief moment of self-pity - why me? why do I deserve this? – before feeling ridiculous about those thoughts because there’s more serious stuff happening in the world. It’s that feeling of coming down to Earth after a moment of irritation.
I had the general outline for this idea, then a friend told me about multiverse theory. I read some articles online to find out some more of the details and make it part of Tom’s Breakfast.
Did you already take an interest in physics?
A general interest. I’ve always been fascinated by philosophical ideas and how we relate to them in our everyday lives, and there is obviously an overlap there with physics and science. A lot of my favourite filmmakers explore themes of time and space - Richard Linklater, Werner Herzog, Stanly Kubrick. When I saw the competition that you were running and another for a one-minute film, I thought why not adapt my film idea to make something to send to both. I haven’t heard back about the one-minute competition yet.
What is your background in film?
I have a production company, Shine a Light Productions. I balance my time between doing client work, often promotional mini-documentaries for brands and charities, and my own work as a writer-director. The short film I made before this was a bigger project, a documentary I directed in Russia about a entrepreneurial cheesemaker trying to make his country's first "authentic" replica of parmesan cheese, in response to a nationwide ban on cheese imports.
Who else was involved in making the short?
Tom is played by Paul Aitchison, an actor I've worked with several times before - I knew would be perfect for it. I had wanted to work with James Callàs Ball for a while, I first saw him star in a great short film called "Gracious Awakenings" years ago, and I I knew he did voiceover work as well, so he came on board as The Narrator. The crew consisted of Berta Pibernat Trias who brought her expertise to the lighting and sound, and Ysabelle Kaye, our production designer, who amongst other things perfected the science of the exploding yoghurt pot! Noemi Gunea also gave us a much needed helping hand (she's my girlfriend so she often gets roped into these things!)
How did you shoot the film?
We filmed it on my iphone. I wanted to contrast the incomprehensibility of the multiverse theory with the limited consciousness with which we experience our everyday lives, and I thought shooting on a smartphone would create the best aesthetic to explore this. Also the wide framing reminded me of old silent movies. Tom is very much stuck in this world: this is the box, the ceiling and walls, in which the character is confined. It's inescapable.
How do you feel about being shortlisted?
I remember looking through your judges after I was shortlisted and I was just blown away. It’s great! All of these guys are going to see a film I shot on my iphone in my kitchen. That’s quite surreal actually.