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Filmmaker Letter

Filmmaker Letter

Brian and Charles

by director Jim Archer

Brian and Charles certainly wasn’t a film inspired by the pandemic. It was written well before then and in fact our first go at production on the film started in March 2020; we were days away from our first day of shooting when the first Lockdown hit.

Yet I think it might be a film that people will relate to now more than ever. Because we’ve all built robots? No… well surely some of us? But because it’s primarily about loneliness and isolation. Something that was thrust upon a lot of us all of a sudden and that Brian deals with by building himself a friend, a robot, Charles.

Starting to feel quite heavy isn’t it? But honestly our first reason for making this film was because it just made us laugh, at its core this film is kind of… dumb. Charles looks ridiculous and talks even more ridiculously and we just wanted to have fun with how those characters interact. How Brian deals with Charles’ growing petulance and how Charles deals with being a, let’s be honest, pretty bloody advanced AI forced to live in the Welsh countryside. That’s our base and from there we can build a world and a story that you care about.

There’s a version of this film out there somewhere in the multiverse that is pretty broad, bright and overly silly. But we thought the best way to approach a story as weird and as fantastical as this was to treat it deadly seriously; the comedy will take care of itself. And actually the more seriously you take it, the funnier it is. So what better way to do that than shooting it as a documentary.

The film started its life as a short, and adapting a short to a feature can be a tricky process. It’s easy to either overelaborate on the original or stretch the story too thin. In the development of the film we went through a number of different ways we could take Brian and Charles’ story; I won’t go through all of them but let’s just say one involved a 25-foot version of Charles with Brian riding on his shoulders. Actually, writing that down—I think we probably should have done it.

But we settled on a story about loneliness, the power of friendship and learning to let go.

And also cabbages.

Posted June 7, 2022

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