Introducing Elephant…A interview with Writer-Director-Producer Matthew Hopper and Writer-Star Ali Woods.

Brian Scudder meets Elephant’s Writer-Director-Producer Matthew Hopper and Writer-Star Ali Woods.

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Elephant is just one of the amazing short film’s being shown and judged at ECIFF 2023. It was also funded and ably assisted by Film Earl’s Court, the funding arm of ECIFF.

What is Elephant about?

Ali Woods It is is a story of a foolish, bumbling but well-meaning young white man who is taking his girlfriend’s father out for a drink in order to ask for her hand in marriage. Unfortunately for him, the father is very woke and finds all this regressive and racist and and misogynistic. So they argue about that until the daughter actually arrives. And then they’re both screwed.

What has ECIFF’s involvement been?

Ali Woods They have helped this become something that me and Matt started writing in lockdown over Zoom – as Matt always says, in our pants. it made this crazy dream become a reality.

Matthew Hopper We can’t thank Caroline and her team enough. She’s just been an absolute godsend. When we first showed her the script and we we carried on developing it with her really try and get the best story that we could out of it she has had such a can-do attitude It’s amazing to have somebody like that on on your side – batting for you.

One of the prescriptions for ECIFF funding is that a film be shot almost exclusively in Earl’s Court. Have you seen that as a constraint or a positive?

 Matthew Hopper It’s not a constraint at all. One of the things that we set out for when we were writing the film was to keep it very contained and straightforward. To keep the story as simple as possible but execute it to a high standard. It just meant we had to find a location that worked for the film in in Earls Court. The whole film is set inside a South Asian restaurant. Caroline helped find the restaurant, and a big, big shout out to Danny, the owner of the Cave Kitchen, because he was an absolute legend.

Who else has helped make the film happen?

Ali Woods We’ve got Nitin Ganatra who plays Masood in EastEnders. I’m early in my acting career, so he was a great coach. I said to him that we really wanted to explore the script and not be too married to the lines so we could find where those funny moments could be. And he he was up for that right off the bat.

Matthew Hopper The same for Anoushka Chakravarti. She is such an amazing young talent. She plays Priya, who is Ali’s character’s girlfriend in the film. When we were going through the casting process I asked her “what made you kind of resonate with the film?” She said it immediately resonated with it because it’s basically the same sort of thing that happened with her boyfriend meeting her family. It is just so awkward.

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