Keys, Money, Phone is a short film directed by Roger Young and produced by Shanna Freedman starring the brilliantly cast Anton Taylor as a young and drunk jock experiencing a ‘total ‘mare’ of a night after losing his belongings. The film was named Best South African Short Film at the Durban International Film Festival earlier this year.
Sebastian arrives home, from a heavy night drinking in the Southern Suburbs of Cape Town. Getting out of the taxi, he realizes, too late, that he doesn’t have his keys, his wallet and his cell phone. He tries to convince the security guard at his apartment complex to let him in, but the security guard just won’t help. What follows is his futile attempts at convincing his friends to help him out with a couch to crash on until the morning.
Reading the synopsis of the film you could be forgiven for expecting a comedy. Instead the film is a raw and necessary look at the same frightening sense of entitlement and aggression that has lead to recent abhorrent racist assaults in suburban Cape Town. Known for his over the top comedic skits, Anton Taylor shows restraint in the role of Sebastian so that, while parts of the film are truly laughable, it never crosses over into parody and the seriousness of the underlying issues isn’t lost.
We caught up with Roger to find out more about the making of the film.
What was your motivation behind making ‘Keys, Money, Phone’?
Initially it was to make a little fun vibey film. I hadn’t made anything for a while. I’m busy gearing up to make a feature and I thought fuck I’d better get some practice. And the idea of a dude being locked out of his place had been sitting around semi-written for years. But then as I started working with Genna Gardini on the script it became pretty clear that it wasn’t a fun vibey story. Some of the incidents in the actual film came from real life shit people told me, and then as we wove those in, it became apparent that race, misogyny, entitlement, all these things you can’t get away from if you’re gonna set a film in the vicinity of Tiger Tiger.
How did you go about making it?
I found a silent investor at a cocktail party. He’d read some of the stuff I’d written and I just convinced him he’d get his money back. Still working on that. Then I convinced Shanna at Muti to produce and there you go. I mean, not really, there were about a million steps but they were all incremental, nothing unsurmountable. Basically I just told everyone I was making a short film and gave them option to come along.
What were some of the challenges and some of the highlights?
Finding Anton. Man I looked at a lot of actors for this role but none of them could do ‘jock’ convincingly, mostly because male actors who can actually act don’t have jock physique. Then someone showed me Jozi Shore and I was like, perfect, but he probably can’t act. So much for me being anti-prejudice.
Lighting was also a thing. I knew if we lit the film it would slow us down, so I just decided that we would have to shoot where there was enough light and deal with it. We had to re-write a few scenes in order to place them where there was light. But man, it sped the whole thing up.
Were all of Sebastian’s interactions planned and cast?
The script was very much locked down in terms of script, locations, progression of story, cast. The Engen dick scene is case in point, we would never have been able to do that without careful planning. Engen had no idea what we were going to do but gave us permission to shoot there, so we had to shoot that without them figuring out what we were up to. They caught us though, and were so chilled about it. The dude was like, “you think that’s bad? come here on a Saturday night.” So ja, everything was rehearsed quite a lot, except for two scenes.
How much input did Anton have in Sebastian’s dialogue? Was most of it improvised, or scripted?
During rehearsals the actors has freedom to change their lines to make them seem more natural to their way of speaking but not to change scenes. There are two unscripted scenes that Anton winged on the night. When he shouts at his ex through her window, totally improvised.
The internet cafe also, we had an actor and a location, both fell through on the night. So we went into the first internet cafe we could, and Anton just ran with it with the dudes there and we captured it.
Who should see this film and why?
Anyone whose got thirty five rond to spare? Tim Osrin? Those dudes who beat up that woman in the Tiger parking lot? I dunno man, we made this a year ago and I honestly thought I was chronicling a way of being that was slowly dying out, but man I was wrong. Okes are fucking dicks. But ja, white people should see it, white people from the Southern Suburbs.
What do you want people to take away from it?
It’s hard to say without giving away the ending. Don’t be a dick is I guess the first lesson, but there’s more to it than that.
What are your plans for the film going forward?
Short films tend to die once they’ve done the short film festival run. Which is a crock of shit anyway because you pay nearly a grand each time you enter one of those, we spent half again of our budget entering those things. So we thought VOD it so people could see it. We’ve just completed another one, and we start the crowdfunding for the feature, Love Runs Out, next year. So it’s out there now, and I’m letting it go off and do it’s own thing I guess.
Director: Roger Young
Producer: Shanna Freedman
Executive producer: Guto Bussab
Production house: MUTI FILMS
Anton Taylor, Amy Wilson, Mzi Vava and Bongani Baba Titana.