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Interview: Rupert Friend Talks Directing Short Film Debut 'Steve,' Starring Knightley and Firth

Thompson on Hollywood By Maggie Lange | Thompson on Hollywood September 26, 2012 at 11:45AM

In Rupert Friend's short movie "Steve," the first-time director uses his sixteen minutes of film to put a tense twist on a slice-of-life portrait of neighbors interacting in a anonymous city. "Steve" is part of the Stars in Shorts series premiering this Friday.

TOH: You evoked a changing mood throughout the film as Firth's character becomes more insistent.  What did you do to achieve this?

RF: I think the circumstances helped. That someone reappears three days in a row, without changing his clothes, shaving or seemingly sleeping, making the same request and having that request denied, is incredibly frustrating for all the characters. Steve knows the rules of etiquette, what is expected and how one is supposed to make friends. He is doing everything right, so can't understand why it is all going so wrong.

His tactics change too. Initially he is adopting a familiar role play that is almost impossible to refuse, and is awarded a decent amount of social interaction. His second attempt is mistimed, he hasn't realized that there is an 'appropriate' amount of time that should be left between visits (let alone the lack of genuine reason) and so is 'punished'. He finally resorts to physically forcing his way in, thereby breaking all the taboos of 'visiting'. He is also intent on getting to what he sees as the 'master seat' at the table, so moves from the bottom seat to the side to the head, where he feels he belongs, as the acts progress, in order to sit in command over the two at the end.

TOH: "Steve" is your directorial debut.  What was your first directing experience like?

RF:  I loved it more than anything. I feel so very lucky to have had the chance to work with so many incredible people on something I am very proud of.

TOH: Do you have any upcoming projects as a director planned?
RT: I recently completed work on a music video for MOBO winners Karios 4tet, with Omar, one of my favorite vocalists, guesting, which was a fantastic experience although pretty seat-of-pants fast as we only got two takes of the song to get what we needed! There is a short and a feature I would love to make that are awaiting finance, and I am writing another feature at the moment.

"Steve" premieres this Friday as part of the Stars in Shorts seires, presented by Shorts HD.

This article is related to: Rupert Friend, Shorts, Short Film, Keira Knightley, Colin Firth, Colin Firth, Interviews, Interviews, Interviews

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Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.