‘The Ting’ dir. Jeremy Cole

Barrington and Leroy find themselves a wish granting phone from the future.

Writer-Director: Jeremy Cole
Executive Producers: James Payne, Phil Wilson
Producer: Bartleberry Logan
Cinematographer: Bud Gallimore
Editor: Joe Swanson
Key Cast: Michelle Tiwo, Calvin Elito

C8: What was the inspiration behind ‘The Ting’ and how long did it take you to write? 

JC: It’s one of the few scripts I’ve actually finished, and that’s probably because it was done in an evening. I wanted to create a scenario that allowed us to play around with dialect and slang.

C8: At what point of he production process did you decide to subtitle parts of the dialogue?

JC: In the first script, only the opening lines were to be subtitled, but it turned into a nice running gag. The concept of subtitles grew while we were in the edit and it was nice to have that flexibility.

C8: How much experience did you have with visual effects before the shoot and how difficult were these ones to pull off?

JC: My background is in post-production, so naturally VFX get incorporated a lot into productions I work on. The effects in this film were pretty simple, basic compositing, and we tried to cut around them to avoid them looking too crude.

C8: Do you believe that emerging director’s need to have strong technical knowledge of cameras, equipment and visual effects to succeed in the industry? 

JC: Not at all. It can be a hindrance to some. I’ve always had hands-on and practical roles before I started directing, therefore I quickly became a one-man-band; shooting, editing and directing entire productions. It took me a long time before I learned to focus on my strengths and allow DOP’s, producers and editors to take control of everything else. I think emerging directors need to have a strong sense of story and narrative to get ideas off the ground. But most critically, directors will succeed when they can lead a crew and cast to their full potential, and to do that I think an understanding of how everything works is helpful.

C8: The film was produced as part of Channel 4’s Random Acts strand. How did this opportunity arise?

JC: I began directing at Lemonade Money, where I worked as an editor across short form content that included Random Acts. The commissioning process was unique, and they put trust into good ideas and emerging talent.

The Ting was one of many ideas that I put forward, and I was lucky enough that they let me get on with it with little interruption. Schemes like Random Acts are important for emerging talent to mess around with ideas, build confidence and get their work showcased on TV. And indie companies like Lemonade Money are great for young people that want to be hands on and ambitious.

C8: What had you done before ‘The Ting’ and what have you done since?

JC: The Ting was made in 2013, the year I decided to focus on directing, and was one of several short form films I made - but the only fictional scripted piece I’ve done to date. Before that I worked as an editor for some directors, producers and commissioners I regard highly, and it was through them that I got the opportunities to push towards what I wanted to do.

Since, I’ve continued to work in music and youth culture content; recently finishing the second series of Channel 4’s ‘Four To The Floor’ (co-directed with Jamie Jessett), as well as music videos for Little Simz and Young Fathers, which I’m very proud of, and a whole bunch of branded content.

C8: You also direct music promos. How do these compare, for you, to shooting a narrative short?

JC: Music videos can vary. I love making promos if I can experiment with ideas and people can trust me - it’s usually fun. But too often, there can be too much pressure and not enough money. Ultimately, I want to keep working towards long form drama and film, and the land of music promos is a good testing ground for ideas and a great place to improve as a director.

Music videos are fairly instant in comparison to anything else too. The last three I’ve done have all gone from pitch to premiere within two weeks.

C8: How did you initially get into filmmaking and what advice would you give to those looking for their start in the industry?

JC: I got into the filmmaking via the traditional TV avenue; uni, work experience, running, researching etc etc. I think times have changed though, and there are a lot of exciting young companies carving out a new lane. It’s good to see people using their initiative when starting out.

My advice would vary, depending which avenue you want to go down but young directors should do everything they can to keep making stuff, and work hard to make sure the next thing you work on is better than the last. The first thing you make might not be groundbreaking, but you’ll learn something to make the next one better - so don’t stop.

It’s also important to be driven towards the things that you want to do. It’s no good settling for a job in a post house if you want to be an Art Director. I believe in the ‘get your foot in the door’ theory, but it needs to be the right door. Find the companies and directors that make things that you’d love to make, get in touch, be honest and be responsive. They might be dickheads, but there’s an even chance you might get on.

C8: For you what is the essence of a good collaboration?

JC: Good manners and trust. Whether it’s with your crew, artist or talent - things only work out if people genuinely want to make the end product as good as possible. You’ve got to like each other and you’ve got to want to work together.

C8: What’s next on the horizon for Jeremy Cole?

JC: That would be telling… plus, I’m not really sure.