‘Deleting Emily’ dir. Zak Klein

A topical comedy about what it means to delete the ones you …uh LIKE-like!

Writer-Director: Zak Klein
Producer: Thibault Travers
DOP: Anthony Gurner
Key Cast: William Close, Gina Bramhill

C8: What inspired you to write ‘Deleting Emily’?

ZK: The idea popped into my head of two people racing to de-friend each other on Facebook after a break up, and I thought that was funny. I thought it was something people could relate to, despite being silly. I liked the idea of a character getting so neurotic about social media he forgets how he feels.

C8: How did you go about casting the film? Were you looking for something in particular?

ZK: I asked friends to recommend actors they knew and sent them the script. I had no preconceived ideas for how the characters should look, other than that Andrew should be rugged and occasionally gormless. One friend suggested Gina Bramhill and she auditioned for Emily. Gina recommended Ronan Raftery and he auditioned. The role of Julie came through a friend, and soon we were 3 weeks from shooting but hadn’t found an Andrew. Then Will Close rocked up  - a friend of my brother’s - and his expressions made me laugh.

C8: The film contains witty lines of dialogue. Do you have a particular writing method?

ZK: Why thank you. The process was unusual for Deleting Emily as it started as a radio play. So the whole story had to be told through dialogue. Usually I do story breakdowns before the script, but in this case I never wrote an outline. My brother Jonah and a friend Ben helped me edit the script, bringing in new ideas and making it more naturalistic.

C8: The film won an Audience Favourite Award and Filmmakers’ Choice at Washington DC Shorts Film Festival. How did the festival circuit respond to ‘Deleting Emily’?

ZK: Better than we hoped! I had no idea what to expect but at the first screening in Berlin (British Shorts), people were laughing at the right moments, so I figured something was working. We started sending it to festivals in the UK and America, and DC Shorts accepted. So I rallied in the troops and five of us flew over to Washington. It must have helped as we won Filmmakers’ Choice.

C8: If you could do anything again what would you do differently?

ZK: I wouldn’t change anything. That would mean changing the film!

C8: Do you think Film Festivals are still a relevant place for emerging filmmakers to showcase their work?

ZK: Absolutely. They’re the only place for filmmakers to showcase their work. Unless you count an online launch, which can be effective but is always at one remove from the audience.  I think it’s really important for filmmakers to showcase their work publicly and enjoy the experience. It gives you perspective and a sense of purpose in what you’re doing.

C8: What is the best piece of advice you received about filmmaking?

ZK: Make films.

C8: How do you think social media and new technologies help filmmakers?

ZK: It’s easy to imagine how social media would help filmmakers. Perhaps less obvious is how filmmakers could be discouraged from producing something longer and specifically catered for the big screen, if their main platform is always online.

C8: Where does ‘Deleting Emily’ sit in your career? What had you done before it?

ZK: I’ve made short films of mixed quality since I was 16. I would say this was my first “properly” or “well” produced short, thanks to Tibo. I’ve made another short film since, ‘The Followed’, which was darker and stranger. ‘Deleting Emily’ has seen more enthusiasm objectively, and my friends say I should write more zany comedies. I’d like to, but I’m also really keen on drama and thriller material too.

C8: What, in your opinion, makes a good collaboration?

ZK: Being able to talk constructively about the script, and being prepared to involve multiple opinions. Also dedication and respect for your cast and crew. You should enjoy working with them, and if people enjoy working with you, they’ll help you see the project right to the end, and beyond. And you need that.

C8: Since ‘Deleting Emily’ you have written and produced a film for the 2013 Virgin Media Shorts competition. What else have you been up to and what’s your next project?

ZK: I wrote ‘The Elevator Pitch’, which Simon Ryninks directed. And made ‘The Followed’, which screens at Underwire Festival on November 21st . I’m currently writing a contemporary feature film that I want to see produced within 2 years. Hopefully I’ll be directing my own words, rather than eating them.