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BURY YOUR NEPHEW: A BEAUTIFULLY CRAFTED SHORT FILM

Bury Your Nephew, is a beautifully crafted short film by writer and director, Yoni Ben-Haim and co-writer, Orson Tarkow-Reinisch, that looks at the delicate relationship between an uncle and his nephew who find common ground in morbid curiosity.

The film marks Yoni’s fourth short and features Karl Pilkington as Toby, young newcomer Harry Jones as Liam, and Katie Pattinson, who also appeared in Suzanne and Martin, Yoni’s graduation film from the London Film Academy.

Bury Your Nephew is wonderfully pieced together and creates an unnerving atmosphere that pulls you in and leaves the audience wondering what awaits.

The cinematography and score throughout Bury Your Nephew also play a crucial role in generating a dark atmosphere that commands your attention and keeps you in suspense. The ominous tone haunts the opening scenes, gripping you in a way which is very difficult to achieve.

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Karl Pilkington in the short film, Bury Your Nephew

The ability to conjure up such an engaging narrative in a short period is tough to do. It is however something that ‘Bury your Nephew’ does superbly.

The film paints Toby in an almost sinister light within the opening frames, and you immediately begin questioning the intentions of his character and the film.

“What we wanted to try and show,” explains Yoni, “Was this underlying tone that there was this sense of impending doom, and we wanted to leave the audience unsure of what might be about to happen.

Karl Pilkington starring in Bury Your Nephew

“I think especially with the title of the film as well, that helped to create this almost ominous atmosphere. We wanted that to pull people in and leave them on the edge.”

Karl Pilkington plays a huge role in making this happen, showing him in a light that audiences may have never seen before.

Bury Your Nephew highlights Karl Pilkington as an incredibly natural actor and together with Harry Jones, they create a relationship that is authentic and believable.

His portrayal of a man searching to find a bond with his nephew feels real and it gives a beautiful depth to the film.

Karl Pilkington in Bury Your Nephew.

“I think Karl blends perfectly into his role as Toby,” Yoni tells us. “It is a gentle and sincere performance that comes from his own sensibility and his own nature and everything about his role in the film felt right. It just all felt really right.”

As the film draws you in we find Toby struggling to feel part of Liam’s life, and we learn more about Liam’s character who is almost dealing with a sense of abandonment.

It is this feeling which leads him to ask Toby a question that changes the entire dynamic of their relationship.

It was an absolute pleasure for The Atlantic Dispatch to sit down with Yoni, as we discussed Bury Your Nephew, his background and career so far and why short films are an art form of their own.

The cast of Bury Your Nephew.


I’M REALLY LUCKY THAT I GREW TO FALL IN LOVE WITH FILMS AND CINEMA

I was born and raised in London and, grew up weirdly not being shown a lot of films, as my parents didn’t really watch any. Whereas the journey of my contemporaries and friends wanting to become filmmakers was being inspired by films, that their mum or dad would have shown them, and they fell in love with cinema that way.

My journey with it was when I was 12 or 13, I got into just shooting videos with friends and I fell in love with making short skits.

I feel lucky that my tastes and my appreciation for cinema, and filmmaking I discovered on my own. I fell in love with making films, and then I fell in love with watching them. So there’s something quite organic to that for me.

Different filmmakers have inspired me over the years, but I didn’t start falling in love with filmmaking until I was making stuff myself. Filmmaking has been an obsession since about 13.

On the set of Bury Your Nephew

I’m really lucky that I grew to fall in love with films and cinema. That’s what propelled me, beyond wanting to be a videographer. Falling in love with film and filmmakers and the passion that they have for cinema, propelled me into becoming a fiction drama director.

I didn’t feel like I was shown things and told that they were the things I should appreciate and I think I found my own things to appreciate. Although, I think I’d be lying if I said that my tastes and style were completely void of any reference and appreciation for other people’s work.

I am definitely inspired by others and look up to a lot of directors and pull from them, but also other art forms and the inspiration that they bring.

On the set of Bury Your Nephew.


BURY YOUR NEPHEW IS REALLY PERSONAL TO ME AND I’M HAPPY I COULD BRING IT TO SCREEN

The journey for Bury Your Nephew has been the last three years. I had actually taken a bit of a break from writing and directing.

Instead, I wanted to get some experience in bigger productions and learn from people operating at the top level. So, I have been working as a second AC for three years.

I’ve stopped doing that at the moment, and I’ve fully come back to directing. And that’s now sort of full steam ahead.

In that time, while I was working as a second AC, I worked on films like Ant-Man and did several months on Mission Impossible.

Working on films of that scale was an incredible learning experience and seeing these massive machines operate.

It sort of clued me in on a lot of ways on how to make that jump from a student film to the next step and borrow some lessons from that type of filmmaking, whilst also rejecting a lot of them.

These experiences inspired me to get back into directing and writing. I think I’m ready to take those bigger steps. I went away knowing that I wouldn’t come back and make a short until I felt like I could do that next-level short film.

For me, that’s what Bury Your Nephew is. I had an idea, and I knew I wanted to get funding and wanted to do it on a bigger scale than I’ve ever done on a short.

Karl Pilkington and director, Yoni Ben-Haim on the set of Bury Your Nephew.

I wanted the look and feel to reflect the type of filmmaking I know that I’m capable of, and not the scale I was operating at before.

I knew that I wanted to put everything into one single short, then move on from short filmmaking for a bit and start developing my skills in other ways to lead myself to doing a feature film in the next few years.

I’m passionate about the story, about the core narrative and the characters. The story is really personal to me and I’m happy I could bring it to screen.

The film itself has done a lot for me in legitimising my return to directing and this new path that I’m now fully set on.

The cast of Bury Your Nephew


THE MORE I SPOKE TO PEOPLE ABOUT THIS, THE MORE I REALISED THAT WE’VE ALL THOUGHT ABOUT IT

The story for Bury Your Nephew came from a conversation I had with a friend, where the titular question in the film is, ‘Is it normal to think about your own funeral?’

I remember having that conversation with a friend, sharing my obsession with it as a young teenager and thinking ‘Was it weird to have these thoughts?’ My friend shared that she had also thought about that.

The more people I spoke to people about this, the more I realised that we’ve all thought about this.

There is something quite naively funny about when we’re young. We often think that we are the only ones in the world thinking like this or going through certain things, that there is a great uniqueness and poetry to the way we are feeling.

Then as we grow, we realise that most of us, if not all of us have had similar thoughts and feelings.

Actor Harry Jones on the set of Bury Your Nephew.

There is almost some comfort in the lack of individuality, that it’s actually quite charming to me, that we all go through life thinking we have these individual experiences. But really, we have a lot of shared experiences that feel individual.

That was a big part of making this film. I wanted to express that in a way that made sense to me. I wanted to make a film with a younger character who teaches something to an older character.

The rest of the film found its way from that core idea, imagining what would happen if I told my friend what I was thinking and she reacted poorly. That’s the genesis of the conflict in the film.


AN EASY WAY TO IMAGINE GETTING THAT IS AT YOUR OWN FUNERAL

I’ve always found in my life that I’ve been quite confident and comfortable in expressing darker, more personal thoughts.

I’ve also been surrounded by people, specifically men in my life, who don’t think and share like that.

To me, there’s something very interesting about the dynamic of people who can be so in sync with one another in many ways, but not when it comes to openness and emotions.

I think that what I want people to come away with is maybe an appreciation for both sides.

I think another thing that I put into the film, was my frustration as a young kid, feeling that adults other than my own family wouldn’t treat me like I was smart enough to handle a conversation such as this.

I think that’s a big thing, the further away we get from childhood, we forget how switched on and smart we were, and that we can handle those kinds of conversations.

The biggest message I guess is wishing I had these kinds of conversations at that age with an older figure.

Actor Harry Jones on the set of Bur Your Nephew.

I think that’s the nuance of discussion that we’re not giving kids and teens that opportunity to feel comfortable or confident enough to discuss things like this.

it’s not black and white, and they might be thinking and feeling things like this because there’s a lack of something else in their life.

In Liam’s case, It’s the love of his mother and feeling sort of abandoned in life, so it’s easy to imagine that he is searching for affirmation from the people around them. And an easy way to imagine getting that is at your own funeral.

I think that’s the biggest example of knowing that even people who are not good at sharing their feelings, you can imagine them opening up about them at your funeral.


WE WANTED BURY YOUR NEPHEW TO PULL PEOPLE IN AND LEAVE THEM ON THE EDGE

Through the cinematography and the music, we wanted to create an unease, that would leave the audience thinking, ‘What’s going to happen?’

We decided early on in a discussion I had with my director of photography Simon, that we wanted create this tension.

We also wanted an element of sadness to the score, with a slight uneasiness. There is some horror trill to it as well, mixed with some hope, but also sadness.

What we wanted to try and show was this underlying tone that there was this sense of impending doom, and we wanted to leave the audience unsure of what might be about to happen.

I think especially with the title of the film as well, that helped to create this almost ominous atmosphere. We wanted that to pull people in and leave them on the edge.

Bury Your Nephew, featuring Karl Pilkington.


WE FOUND THIS SORT OF BEAUTIFUL NATURALISM TOGETHER

Karl Pilkington has been responsible for so much of the early success the film has been having. I mean, we’ve got 100,000 views for the trailer on YouTube, which is nuts for a short film.

When we were casting for the lead role, I worked with a casting director called Nick Hockaday, who is incredibly talented.

For Liam’s character, we were looking for someone with less experience, who had less child drama school energy.

I needed to find an emotionally intelligent kid, who was believable, where it felt natural and it wasn’t being performed. Harry Jones, who plays Liam, gave us exactly what we were looking for.

To compliment that almost, we wanted to find a leading actor that is also not your traditional drama actor. That’s where we came to Karl, and it was Nick’s suggestion.

I remember I was driving my car when he suggested it and I just thought, ‘That’s perfect.’

I think Karl’s carreer is super interesting, from producer to on-screen talent. He is a UK fan favourite, and people love him. That’s because he’s just so funny and unique as well.

Director, Yoni Ben-Haim and actor Karl Pilkington on the set of Bury Your Nephew.

I think what was exciting about this was when I first met him, he shared that he felt like he had a lot in common with the protagonist. So, for him, he could approach it in an almost non-actor kind of way. And we found this sort of beautiful naturalism together.

Karl smashes it and I think it puts him in a light that we’ve never seen him before and that’s something I’m immensely proud of.

I actually can’t wait for his mega fans to see it, because he’s got some crazy fans and I’m really curious to see what they’re going to think of the film. I think they’re going to be blown away at his acting chops because I think he nails the character.

Karl Pilkington on the set of Bury Your Nephew.


THEY ARE THEIR OWN ART FORM

I think the easiest challenge to talk about when it comes to making a short film, is that we’ve all seen countless incredible feature films to pull from as inspiration and as a guide of what a good film looks like.

Now, unless you’re very engrossed in the short film world, which as a filmmaker I am, you’ll find that they’re so varied, and so many of them don’t work.

I think a lot of the time, it’s because they’re trying to emulate the storytelling devices of a feature, but in a small timescale. But short films are their own art form.

I haven’t made a feature yet, so I can’t speak wholeheartedly. However, I do believe that there are unique challenges to shorts that make them harder than a feature. And vice versa.

You have a limited timeframe, so you have to be efficient with your storytelling. there are moments in Bury Your Nephew where I’m definitely conscious of the fact that I’ve got to keep it moving. Because it’s already stretching out to 20 minutes. And that’s very long in the short film world and I don’t want it to turn into a half an hour short.

This story doesn’t need half an hour. It could maybe benefit from a few more minutes, but really, I think the biggest challenge is the efficiency at which you need to be a storyteller.

I think the biggest way to deal with that challenge is on the page, and it’s knowing how much of a story am I trying to capture. What are the things I’m trying to pull off? Because if you try and do too many things I think you miss the mark.

There’s no real money in short films, because there’s not much money to be made. Very few short films get purchased, and very few films get commissioned, compared to the feature film world, because it’s not something people can make a return on their investment very easily.

So they’d rather spend 10 times the amount on a feature because it can make their money back, versus spending 20 grand on a short that probably won’t do anything other than hopefully get into festivals, which is its own thing.

Shorts are interesting because they allow for some pretty unique expressiveness. And you can do things that maybe you would struggle to get funding for in the feature space because they don’t need to be commercially viable.

So it’s nice to be completely in control and be able to put something out there that is genuine and authentic and everything about it screams me and my sensibility, and I’m very proud of it for that.

The whole experience was great. It was exhausting and it was a lot of work for a 20-minute film. It was a good six to eight months of my life.

The film is now being submitted to festivals at the moment, and it should be the beginning of next when we start hearing back if we’ve made it into some festivals.

It can be a slow and arduous process and it takes time to find out if we’re lucky enough to get into some of these festivals. Fingers crossed.

I think I’ve proven to myself that I can make something that obtains a cinema quality and we’re very proud that the film looks gorgeous.

It’s almost a joke between me and my Simon Van Parijs, that I get frustrated because when people watch the film, the first compliment they always give is that It looks amazing.

I’m involved in the visual look, but it’s massively due to Simon and Francesca Jones, the production designer and costume and makeup and then every single person who puts stuff on screen but those two bring the whole aesthetic together, and they get the first compliment every time.

The film will be available for everybody to watch, post-festival season. It’s amazing that there’s so much interest and people are messaging me every week asking, ‘Where can I watch it?’ Unfortunately, it’s unwatchable at the moment publicly.

If you follow my Instagram and the second there’s a festival announcement, I will post it there and as soon as we know where we’re premiering we will announce it.

Once we know that, we will then hopefully be reaching out to all kinds of festivals. We just need to know where we’re starting and where we’re premiering and we’ll go from there.


All of our thanks to the wonderfully talented Yoni Ben-Haim.

For more information on Bury Your Nephew and Yoni click here

Starring Karl Pilkington, @harryjonesact and katiepattinson_actress 

Directed by Yoni Ben-Haim
Written by @orsonphotography and Yoni Ben-Haim
Produced by @dombaker@minoanpictures

Edited by: @alexemborg
Music by: @malthus___

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