We’re currently raving about new short comedy drama: Lovebird written and directed by Georgios Hartofilakidis, which has just been released online. Georgios is a young Greek writer/director who recently graduated from the University of the Arts London. He already has 24 short film in the can, including a home-made feature from his childhood. It’s clear from his body of work that his directorial voice demands attention, and he possesses that rare quality of being able to to deftly meld absurdist comedy with sincere emotional drama.
Lovebird is about a dedicated couple who are at loggerheads over whether or not to start a family. Denise (Elizabeth Boag) is ready to take the next step but boyfriend, Zach (Raphael Von Blumenthal), avoids dealing with the increasingly delicate situation. While Denise is trying to encourage her partner to embrace a healthier lifestyle with nutritious smoothies and daily jogs, Zach moves further and further away until he gradually turns into an ostrich, and to use the most fitting idiom, buries his head in the sand. Now the most difficult decision ensues: ‘Do we start a family, or do we have to break up?’.
Georgios elaborates on the theme of the film: ‘Lovebird deals with a common issue, individuals in relationships wanting different things. Zach is afraid of commitment and Denise wants to settle down. The characters do love each other; we are not picking sides and neither one is the bad guy. The film is simply a celebration of independence and doing what’s right for you. And there is an ostrich in it’.
How did you come up with the idea of a guy who turns into an ostrich?
‘I was talking to my friend Manny at a summer BBQ and he mentioned that he had an ache behind his ear. It’s worth mentioning that Manny has a thick northern accent and my ability to understand him – being a Greek man – is rather poor. ‘You have an egg behind your ear?!’. The surreal image peaked my interest immediately. It of course naturally evolved from ‘guy has an egg behind his ear’ to ‘guy lays eggs’ to finally ‘he lays eggs because he is transforming into a big bird’.
Why did you choose a puppet for the ostrich? How did it work?
‘Originally there was talk about CGI and even an actual living ostrich. But very soon we realised that that wasn’t right for the film – it didn’t require a realistic approach. Being able to see the man behind the animal (literally – either the actor in a costume or the choppy movements of the puppeteer) would make for a better visual and draw attention to the metaphor.
The puppet was made by the very talented Katie Boyce. The performer was wearing the ostrich tights and shoes and could fit his head, torso and arms into the hollow puppet. Inside there were leavers for moving the beak and eyelids. It was massive, around 7 feet tall! Raphael Von Blumenthal, the lead actor, was in it for most of the shoot but because of scheduling issues in some of the scenes it’s actually me that’s inside the ostrich!
I had to keep it by my bed for a couple of months prior to the shoot as there was no other place to store it. Honestly, it was a bit scary for the first few mornings, but it was a good reminder that I had a film to make. Sometimes encouragement comes from the weirdest places.’
What’s the reaction you’ve gotten so far?
Lovebird is getting really positive reactions during screenings, which I couldn’t be happier about! People seem to be expecting the comedy, but the emotional side of the film is a positive surprise to them. Most comments we’ve gotten so far are along the lines of: ‘This shouldn’t work, but it does!’, and it’s just wonderful to see audience members laugh throughout the film and well up by the end’.
Who should watch Lovebird?
‘Lovebird has an incredibly wacky premise, but it’s told in a very grounded and genuine way. So, if you’re a fan of absurdist comedy that’s treated with sincerity (Spike Jonze and directing duo Daniels were a particular reference), you’ll hopefully take something personal away from the film’.
All of us at CELLOPHANELAND* especially loved this short because it is truly original whilst simultaneously being funny and thought-provoking. And the utter illogicality always appears reasonable, which is the hallmark of any memorable absurdist comedy. Why wouldn’t a flirtatious stranger admire Zach’s sprouting feathers without question; why wouldn’t Zach break off from his jog to forage for insects in the bushes? All perfectly normal in a day of the life of any self-respecting ostrich. We predict that Lovebird is going to be a sure-fire hit on the festival circuit!
Watch Lovebird here.
For further information on Georgios and his films, please visit: www.georgiosfilms.com