Saul Abraham was part of the 2023 Fiction Filmmaker shortlist for his short film ENJOY. A touching, offbeat exploration of the ways in which depression manifests itself in men across generations, the short film stars Himesh Patel. Premiering at Tribeca Film Festival in 2021, ENJOY went on to screen at a host of Academy Awards and BAFTA-qualifying festivals, winning Best UK Short Film at Raindance Film Festival and the British Short Film Awards. The film is streaming on Disney+ in the UK and Europe. We catch up with Saul to find out more about his filmmaking, how he and writer Callum Cameron created ENJOY, and his time at Sony Pictures Studios.
How did you first get into filmmaking?
My dad borrowed a camcorder for a family holiday when I was around 12. I made a very embarrassing short film but it opened up a whole world and I’ve been trying to make things that I’m less embarrassed of ever since.
Despite dealing with a heavy subject, you inject gentle humor into ENJOY. Why do you feel comedy works in the context of your film?
That’s all down to the writer Callum Cameron. The sensitive way he blends comedy and drama is what I love so much about his work. Despite the heavy themes, we never wanted to make something that came across as pretentious or preachy. We used comedy as an entry point to explore the subject, but also because in our experience laughter and tears often exist together. In our opinion, the best work always does both, sometimes at the same time.
You worked with the mental health charity Mind to create a truthful portrayal of depression. How did this collaboration come about and what was the charity’s most valuable input for the film?
The film came from a very personal place. With a project like ENJOY, you always want to make sure everything is coming across properly and you are not inadvertently putting anything unhelpful out there as everyone has blind spots. Mind came on board before production to read the script and offer advice. It was great to have their support and blessing.
The film has already received 12 nominations and won an impressive eight awards in festivals, competitions and awards worldwide. Why did entering the Sony Future Filmmaker Awards appeal?
We’ve been really lucky to have had a positive reaction to the film. Unfortunately, we were unable to travel to a lot of the festivals due to COVID travel restrictions, so missed out on the creative camaraderie that they bring. Being able to go to LA and experience and learn from that side of the industry along with other filmmakers from around the world was inspiring and invaluable.
What are you currently working on?
Callum (the writer of ENJOY) and I are currently in development for our debut feature.
What’s the best piece of career advice you’ve received?
Hmm, every day is a school day?
What stood out to you most during your time at Sony Pictures Studios?
Being around such talented filmmakers from around the world. Different backgrounds and perspectives all absorbing cinema together were very inspiring.
Is there anything you’ve learned about your filmmaking since your experience last February?
Maybe less about filmmaking directly, but one of the Sony executives I met said there was no such thing as a ‘no’, just a new direction to go in. It made me laugh but I think there is a lot of truth to it if you want to make films.
Saul Abraham is a half-Finnish, half-British award-winning director and producer working across drama, documentary, and commercials. His filmmaking is stylish, cinematic and thought-provoking, often centering on a darkly comic critique of society and modern day relationships. His critically acclaimed short film ENJOY was a touching, offbeat exploration of the ways in which depression manifests itself in men across generations. It starred Himesh Patel and premiered at Tribeca Film Festival 2021, going on to screen at a host of Academy Awards and BAFTA-qualifying festivals, winning Best UK Short Film at Raindance Film Festival and the British Short Film Awards. The film is streaming on Disney+ in the UK and Europe. Saul’s previous short film Breaking picked up acting awards for its leads Antonia Thomas and Martin McCann; his documentary Moses: Strongman, part of the Idris Elba curated takeover on BBC3 and iPlayer, led him to be included in the BBC New Talent Hotlist. Saul co-runs London’s Saul & Josh Studio which offers an end-to-end film production service from creative development right through to delivery across multiple formats and platforms.
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