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  • Writer's pictureBen Anstruther

Inspiration #1

So I’ve discussed the inspiration and genesis of my idea – which you can read all about if you wish! Today I’m going to discuss some of the films, books and television series that I have inspired me and how they have impacted on the film. I hope to do a few of these as there are lots of sources of inspiration for this idea and how it is to be written on the page and brought to the screen.

Today I am going to discuss workplace television serials – specifically the ones that I grew up with and why they are relevant to the development and production of “Roll.”

Why look at television? Going to the cinema is one of the things I value most in life and I aspire to make films that are going to made with a cinema release in mind, not streaming or online distribution. I don’t watch a lot of TV shows either and am not necessarily interested in making stuff in that form. However, as we are making a short film which is destined for that release and as a lot of TV episodes have individual stories, like the ones I am going to discuss, then it’s good to look at how they manage to accomplish great things in a confined period of time.


Fawlty Towers

Fawlty Towers is rightly regarded as the best British sitcom of all time. What makes it so, is the character of Basil and how interacts with the people around him and cannot control his surroundings no matter how hard he tries. This is what allows the show to become so frustrating and enervating to watch as a viewer. For me it works better when there is less of a focus on the super-cringe humour and more on the frenzy of Basil trying to resolve the difficult situations he finds himself in. This is of course an important part of my film, especially in the final act where Nina is having to overcome several obstacles to find this piece of evidence which has alluded her.

Picking a favourite episode I find really difficult but for me it’s a toss up between Basil The Rat and The Psychiatrist.


The Office

(The UK version of course)

This is probably my favourite series of all time, that or Peep Show, and what I am inspired by is how they make something so dull so entertaining. A story set in the procurator fiscal is at best an innocuous prospect for a film but as is a mockumentary following the lives of employees in the office of a paper company. Again, it has a similar quality to Fawlty Towers in that no matter how hard David tries he cannot control his circumstance.

Tim is also similar to the protagonist in my script, Nina, as he is completely disillusioned with his life and in part that is due to the people around him, Gareth specifically, but also his lack of autonomy and the monotony of his daily life. Also the actual offices that fiscals work in are very similar to the Wernham Hogg ones.

Favourite episode has to be Merger (S2 E1) – David’s welcome speech is one of the funniest things ever devised!


The Thick of It

While I’m still debating how much comedy to integrate into my script, it will have an element of satire and The Thick of It (and In The Loop) is probably the best modern satire. The Government and Judicial systems have some parallels, they can both be stressful because of the responsibilities that individuals carry, they are often the subject of derision especially in the media and they both often have difficulties with IT.

The Thick of It is an amazing look at how things constantly go wrong and all the ways they are tried to be rectified by hapless ministers and their advisors. The dialogue, while profane to put it mildly, is always bruising and endlessly funny. I like the realistic approach, the naturalistic performances and while I enjoy the documentary-style, I don’t think I will be incorporating that into my film – and I don’t think the humour and language would be appropriate.

Favourite episode is S2 E1.

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