Boiling Point: The film shot in one take inside a Hackney restaurant
- Credit: Christian Black
In 2019, first time film director Philip Barantini hit the ground running with BIFA-nominated short film Boiling Point. In March last year the original 22-minute screenplay was adapted into a feature film, giving viewers an insight into a restaurant kitchen on one of the busiest nights of the year.
“The film is a slice of life,” Philip explains. “We drop the audience in for an hour and a half and they make of it what they will.”
The action, filmed in a single take, unfolds at Hackney restaurant Jones & Sons which Philip knows “like the back of my hand”. Restaurant owner Andy Jones is “a good mate” and the two go back to when they both worked at Hackney’s Cat & Mutton where they became friends.
Philip certainly knows his way around a few restaurants having made it to head chef in several places. As the story goes, he’d been acting for 22 years but needed more money, so started working in kitchens. “It took over my life and I gradually worked my way to the top,” he says.
The film closely follows Head Chef, Andy, played by Stephen Graham, struggling with his mental health in a high stress environment. Although the film is not based on Philip’s experience word for word, it certainly comes close: “I entered a dark hole for many years. It was tough. I wanted to give a truthful account of that world”.
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Philip proudly states he’s been sober for six years but emphasises how difficult it is to know what’s really happening in people’s lives. What goes on ‘behind closed doors’ is a recurring theme in the film and just like a restaurant upholds a facade, so do people: “Everybody puts on a front. We are not our true selves until we are away from others”.
Perhaps the ability to examine and portray the vulnerable side of life is what puts Philip’s work firmly on the radar. Since releasing Boiling Point, he has acquired agents in London and LA where he is working on two projects about which he can’t say much. “The success has come as a surprise – it’s been a bit surreal,” he says. “I’d always wanted to try directing but I didn’t have the confidence. Then five years ago my mum died, and it put everything into perspective. It triggered something”.
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Once he’d summoned up the courage, he made his first short followed by Boiling Point. He asked good pal and fellow Liverpudlian, Stephen Graham, with whom he’d acted in mini-series Band Of Brothers, to join the cast: “Stephen came on board straight away and was super supportive. After we’d finished, Stephen said, Phil, we’re going to get you an agent”.
Philip adds that his and Stephen’s families have since become close. As we speak, he is on a train from London to Manchester where he will be reunited with his wife and four-year-old daughter. “I moved to London when I was 17, it’s where I met my wife. Once we started a family we knew we wanted to be close to relatives, so our base is now Manchester”.
For a moment he talks about his daughter and how having a child has put everything into perspective yet again: “It’s something I wouldn’t change for the world”.
Growing up surrounded by family is something Philip can relate to. He recalls his own childhood just outside Liverpool in a small town called Huyton with grandparents nearby. “I recently visited my grandparents’ house. My grandmother gave me a few things I played with as a kid - it was nostalgic. The past is all you really have; it shapes you. I carry a notebook everywhere I go and write down little observations so I don’t forget”.
Speaking of writing, Philip is full of praise for James Cummings, with whom he co-wrote Boiling Point: “I would perform the parts and he would type - everything he wrote was always exactly what I had in mind. We did not put physical dialogue in the script for the actors, we went with what should be said”.
Philip’s bold decision to film the entire feature in one take paid off: “Although it was challenging for the actors, it was exhilarating”. Filming stopped two days early due to Covid. They were left with four takes instead of the desired eight but the third was a winner and the film was able to wrap: “we achieved exactly what we set out to,” concludes Philip.
On that note, the former chef’s train pulls in. He’s ready for a weekend with the family. What will he do to unwind? Some cooking perhaps!
Boiling Point is set for a release in UK and Irish cinemas on December 3, 2021.