Based on an interview with an anonymous drug dealer (known only as ‘Mr’ to us) and a series of text messages from his clients, Jamie Jessett’s stylish and inventive documentary cleverly mixes audio, abstract imagery and an inventive use of onscreen text to provide an insightful and entertaining glimpse into an often unseen lifestlye.
Please don’t use buzzer baby’s asleep
With the main challenge in production being how to visual his subject’s story, without ever showing ‘Mr’ onscreen. Director Jessett had to take a somewhat artistic approach to the aesthetics of his film – ensuring he protected his interviewees identity and his “doctor/client relationship”. Visually reminiscent of Vadim Gershman & Ryan Powell’s similarly experimental short Phaseone – Sugar, A Man Who Delivers employs shots of car journeys and random interiors to represent a day in the life of this unconventional travelling salesman. Speaking to Jessett over email, the filmmaker explained to Short of the Week how he went about structuring his six-minute short and his love for the flexibility of his chosen genre:
“I had a very set idea of how the narrative would flow, which once i’d got ‘Mr’s’ text’s and interview, I realised wasn’t going to work. The text’s needed to act as the spine of the film, so I had to drop some of the topics discussed which didn’t work within the constrictions I’d set myself. I’d come up with the text idea as didn’t want to do another drug dealer doc with a mosaic face or bad reconstructed sequences of people in pub car parks, the likes of which you see on bad tv channels.
It’s what i love about documentary – as much as you plan you always have to be open to the inevitable changes that come along and you have to be able to adapt creatively. I find working that way exciting and I love the way films often find their own feet and become what they need to be. Sometimes someones stumbled answer, or a simple text they have received, can be alot more revealing then a clear soundbite.”
A Man Who Delivers manages to strike that fine balance in documentary, by being both visually arresting and emotionally engaging, whilst still providing a brief view into a world often uncovered. Whilst the world of fiction may want us to believe the London drug dealer to be a violent and unsavoury sort, Jessett manages to rise above this stereotype and present a more human vision of this unusual career path. Documenting without bias, but with style.