A couple (Tom Burke and Game of Thrones’ Natalie Dormer) tries to tackle the London brunch scene, but getting a seat is harder than deciding what to eat. Matt Winn’s short film The Brunchers screens before the feature film Tasting Menu at HIFF 2013.
Please describe your film in your own words.
Matt Winn: The Brunchers is a simple story about a couple who wants to get brunch and fails miserably. Their mistake is that, on this particular Sunday, they decide to break the mold of their normal brunch eating habits—they want brunch at a venue that’s a little bit hipper and cooler than they are. What they discover is that in the world of hipster eateries, just getting in a coffee is harder than you think.
The film is a satire on middle class social values. We often spend our time thinking that everybody else is having a better experience than we are: whether it’s in our relationships, our work life, the exoticism of our holidays, or the banality of our choice of brunch venue.
There’s an acronym going around at the moment—f.o.m.o.—‘fear of missing out.’ We’re obsessed with the idea that other people’s experiences are superior to ours. There’s a better party going on somewhere than the one we’re at. But the reality is, of course, that focusing on what we’re missing out on is the surefire way to really ‘miss out.’ The couple in the film (Tom Burke and Natalie Dormer) discover that they are considerably happier and saner than their desperately trendy friends. So there’s a happy ending.
What inspired you to tell this particular story?
MW: Well, they say, “Write what you know,” and this particular scenario (with a few artistic amendments) basically happened to my wife and me. We wanted to go to the hip new brunch place that had just opened, but we failed to book three weeks in advance. What followed was a tortuous journey to a coffee and a cream cheese bagel. It struck me that this little story was really a metaphor for life. We chased the dream, we failed, but we found a little dream of our own.
You have a fantastic cast, including Natalie Dormer (Game of Thrones), Tom Burke, and Rufus Sewell. Did you all sit around having brunch every day? What did everyone eat?
MW: I never like to feed the cast on the shoot—it slows them down. Actually, that’s a lie, but we did get catering one day from the restaurant that features as ‘Marmalade’ in the film, and they made an extremely tasty spread of smoked salmon and cream cheese bagels.
What do you want audiences to take away from your film?
MW: Wow! That sounds like a very big demand for a little film. I would say that the film attempts to be fairly naturalistic, and I would hope that an audience might be able to empathize with the absurd and neurotic demands of modern living that it portrays. At the end of the day, you can only really be yourself, and trying to chase after other people’s aspirations are pointless.
I would also hope that they might laugh a little as well…
Do you have one piece of advice for aspiring filmmakers?
MW: Do your own thing. There’s enough of everyone else’s thing around already… and remember (to paraphrase William Goldman), nobody knows anything.
What are you most looking forward to at the 2013 Hamptons International Film Festival?
MW: So many things—but movie wise, I’m probably most looking forward to Clio Barnard’s The Selfish Giant. And the brunches…
Matt Winn is a writer, director, composer and soprano saxophone player. He’s written and directed numerous short films and one feature, January 2nd. He won the prestigious UK Film Council ’25 Words or Less’ screenwriting competition, and has been commissioned to write scripts for Lionsgate and Fox Searchlight. Coming Down, a previous short, was described by the Observer as “a near-perfect rendering of a typical Friday night for a group of twenty-something friends: anyone who has been there will marvel at the lightness of every detail…meticulously observed, a pop cult classic.” The Brunchers is his fourth short.