We fired some questions over to Theresa Varga, the director of the brilliant offbeat short Bossman (UK) who will also be on the Production Budgeting film panel. In this interview we find out what the term “Bossman” actually means, delve into her style of using colours in her films, finding the right characters with the right chemistry for the out of this world script, and uh, the best jerk chicken place in London!
A brief introduction to yourself as a filmmaker.
I’m a Northern director from Doncaster, South Yorkshire but studied film in London at Ravensbourne University. I started out editing YouTube videos for channels such as Latimere Group, SBTV Comedy and Youth Media Agency, then began to experiment with film and directing. I focused on quite creative music / spoken word videos at first but soon found myself down the narrative route, particularly dark comedy. I love and take inspiration from French films and how the stories seem to encompass a world of their own and surreal English TV programs such as The League of Gentlemen.
I like to focus on the weird and otherworldly, creating characters that are either completely out there or so withdrawn it’s hard to break through them.
Never realised the term “Bossman” is really a thing! How did the idea of this film came about?
Me neither! Bossman, as I learned from my very London boyfriend and living here, is London-slang to show someone a form of respect. The urban dictionary describes it as a ‘mix of both formal and casual. You say this to someone when you respect them in the sense that you acknowledge they’re in charge of the situation.’
So when you’re at your local chicken or corner shop, anyone working behind the till is Bossman, even your taxi driver can be Bossman,
as I found out when my friend was drunk in a taxi saying “Bossman, Bossman pull over I need to be sick- thanks Bossman”! So one night when we were inebriated, we were feeling peckish and began to envision Bossman building a UFO to zap down a chicken burger to us, and thus Bossman (the film) was created. I don’t think I’ve ever said Bossman so many times in a paragraph.
The dialogue is pretty zany – must have been a heck of a process to come up with something so original, funny and crazy at the same time and then find the right characters to play their parts with the right chemistry. How did you manage all that?
I really can’t take all credit. Alice Felgate who plays Mandy is an incredible actress who really took the role on as her own and made it in to something beyond my imagination, her facial expression are just insane and she brought everything to the character. My writing partner (who is also my boyfriend) and plays opposite Alice in Bossman obviously brought so much to the piece, I think a mix of both of our brains and very different humour / imaginations gave the script something we couldn’t do on our own (However we should note there was also a lot whisky involved, a very lot of whisky, cause without it we are terrible at working together and end up in big heated creative discussion and get nowhere haha). Alice and Nathan also starred in BBC3 Some Girls together so had that previous onscreen chemistry. Jag who plays Bossman we didn’t previously know but found him on a casting site, he’s an incredible human being who is retired and has only recently got into acting to keep busy and try something new! He has the best energy on set, always smiling!
4. We notice there is a distinct use of colour in the film, from the set design, to the lighting, to the characters’ clothing. Is colour an important aspect for your films, why? What influenced this decision?
Colour is hugely important in the films I make. For me it’s about creating that surreal environment which is an exaggeration of our reality.
The film is set in inner city London, you would expect over cast and grey surroundings, but why when there are so many colours out there to use (the laundrette setting is Nathan’s local launderette where he grew up in Shepherd’s Bush – there couldn’t be a better location!). I think in this sense, as the film is seen from Mandy’s perspective and to enhance who she is and what she is experiencing, the way she sees the world is the way it appears in the film – loud, exciting, bold and colourful! I wanted the audience to step inside Mandy’s brain and to warp the lines between reality and what she is imagining.
5. So can you tell us where’s the best fried chicken takeaway in London? :)
It’s not quite a fried chicken shop, but Ochi Caribbean takeaway in Shepherds Bush literally has the best Caribbean food and the best Jerk chicken in London, Beyoncé and Rihanna have both been there… and they do fried chicken!
Hahahaha that was awesome, thanks so much Theresa! See you very soon!