Still recovering from a previous shoot which Ellis admits became “an editing salvage job” after it was plagued by location and weather problems, Stew & Punch was a direct reaction to this experience. Shot in just one internal location (no weather problems here) and consisting of three long takes separated only by cuts to black (not much editing needed there) though the director might have chosen this approach as response to previous problems, it only works to magnify the believability of the piece – which is vital in its success.
With this filmmaking approach making Stew & Punch feel like it’s offering its viewers a ‘ringside’ seat at one of the most uncomfortable dinner dinner parties ever, it also firmly put the film’s focus on performance. Perfectly rehearsed and choreographed you can imagine that along with blocking out camera moves, getting the actors feeling like a real group of friends and getting the dialogue and actions feeling natural was where Ellis must have focused a lot of his directorial attention.
Orbiting around its central couple as they spend an evening welcoming friends to their new house, Stew & Punch is another strong character piece from Ellis. A film firmly grounded in uncomfortable comedy, Ellis’ 17-min film sucks you in with just how real it feels (we would have all experienced nights a bit like this!), but the real punch of its impact comes from its hilarious conclusion.
An uncomfortable, funny and rewarding watch, Stew & Punch adds to an ever-expanding catalogue of shorts from director Ellis that dates back to 1998. The third film of his we’ve featured on Short of the Week (after Jam Today & Soft) and another short that did well on the festival scene (Stew & Punch played London & Tribeca Film Festival), Simon says he’s now working on “several projects at once” but doesn’t like to talk about them prematurely for “fear of sucking the energy from them”.
As always, we’ll bring you any updates from his work as soon as we have them.