Watch the entire short film “Keeping Up with the Joneses” with Maxine Peake

Commissioned by BFI and Lighthouse as part of the BFI Shorts 2012 programme.

OFFICIAL SELECTION: BFI London Film Festival 2013, London Short Film Festival 2014, Clermont-Ferrand International Short Film Festival 2014.
BAFTA Award nomination, Best British Short Film 2014
BIFA Award nomination, Best British Short 2014
WINNER: Best Thriller Short Award, London Short Film Festival 2014
WINNER: Best Thriller, Aesthetica Film Festival 2014

Writer: Selina Lim
Director: Michael Pearce
Producer: Megan Stuart-Wallace
Cast: Maxine Peake, Geoff Bell, Adeel Akhtar

28 mins Black comedy. MP’s wife Celia discovers her husband’s true colours when she is taken hostage by his criminal business associates.

What do Maxine Peake, Ridley Scott and Lily Cole have in common? They’re all part of this year’s BAFTA-qualifying ASFF film festival

What do Maxine Peake, Ridley Scott and Lily Cole have in common? They’re all part of this year’s BAFTA-qualifying ASFF film festival, of course: Joshua Potts trawls through the programme to pick his highlights…

My, how things have grown. It’s been four years since Aesthetica magazine called on its readership to submit home-made shorts for a DVD collection. The response – thousands of hours of film, spanning 37 countries – was certainly too great for a one-off experiment, and led to the creation of the first Aesthetica Short Film Festival (ASFF) in 2011, an audacious new mark on the cinephile calendar.

Spread across the city of York, and this year with a newly granted BAFTA awards submission status, it is positioning itself as one of the UK’s most varied and picturesque celebrations of independent film-making from around the world.

Contemporary paranoia will be shredding some nerves as Former Things (directed by Adam R. Brown) and Hold (Eric Kolelas) throw an intimate spin on the apocalypse, complimenting Maxine Peake’s eagerly-awaited performance in Keeping up with the Joneses (Michael Pearce) as a woman kidnapped by her husband’s criminal fraternity. Those wanting to whet their social appetite between the nail-biting should be content with Friday’s party at Thirteen Thirty One, a fantastic hybrid restaurant-cinema venue sitting in York’s Latin Quarter, that will be catering for a pick n’ mix gathering of audience and industry types.

“The sheer wealth of films on offer will educate the side of us that yearns to be brash, bold and transcending normality”

Fluidity emerges as a strong theme in the festival’s programme: Channel 4, Ridley Scott Associates, and Empire’s Anna Smith are just some of the names heading discussions and masterclasses on the business of getting noticed, an ointment for the deep scars left by aggressive cuts in the government’s arts budget. The message, carried from ASFF’s origins, seems to be that anything is still possible. Opportunity will present itself over three-days of networking sessions although, for many, the sheer wealth of films on offer will educate the side of us that yearns to be brash, bold and transcending normality.

Tears of Inge (Alisi Telengut) is one such work, an animation constructed from slides of oil pastels visualising a Mongolian folk story, as told by Telengut’s grandmother. Descriptions of his technique (painting’s equivalent of time-lapse photography) and the fact it’s portrayed from the emotional perspective of a camel, should prove a fascinating watch. Other reflections on the power of myth include Kickstarter-funded animation The Waste Land (Lucy Lee) and A Film is a Film is a Film (Eva von Schweinitz), which investigates the beauty of celluloid in the wake of digital projection.

The skydiving sequence in Godzilla might have found a perfect match in Lancaster (Phillip Stevens) – its trailer is dominated by a similar, infernal sky of red and black, though this time the soldiers facing imminent death are based on heroes of a WWII bombing raid. For lighter fare, my picks are Bad Day at the Office (Nick Scott), which should deliver on its Kafka-esque premise, while The Boy with a Camera for a Face (Spencer Brown) speaks for itself, literalising the 21st century obsession with documenting the lives we’re not really leading.

What distinguishes ASFF even further is its commitment to showcasing film’s adaptability to art and fashion. Vivienne Westwood’s anti-capitalist stance inspired Lorna Tucker to make Red Shoes (featuring supermodel Lily Cole). Chamade (Kinga Burza) is billed as a fizzy display of the new SS14 Morgan collection, in the style of Nouvelle Vague.

The bottom line of the festival may be ‘aesthetics’, but the soul shines through ever more brightly, as the scope for this kind of cinematic congregation carves its name into York’s cultural offer.

Joshua Potts

Aesthetica Short Film Festival (ASFF) 2014 runs Thursday 6 until Sunday 9 November 2014 — four day unlimited pass £30; one day pass £15; individual screenings £5. Book tickets here

See full festival programme here!

Read our coverage of past ASFF events here


Video Update: Keeping Up with The Joneses – Clip & Trailer

A really short clip:

And the trailer in case you haven’t seen it yet:

What’s on the horizon for Maxine Peake?

2014 has already been a great year for Maxine Peake, as we have seen her star in Run & Jump as well as a new series of Silk.

Peake continues to deliver fine work as she moves effortlessly between television and film. And it is film she is concentrating on this week, as she is set to star in new British drama Keeping Rosy.

Run & Jump has already been a great film role for her to get her teeth into this summer, and now Keeping Rosy is a second.

Keeping Rosy sees her team up with first time feature filmmaker Steve Reeves, as she takes on the central role of Charlotte.

The movie follows Charlotte who is passed over for a job, and takes out her anger on her cleaner when she gets home.

While Charlotte’s life disintegrates, we follow her on a heart-racing journey of self-discovery, atonement, and danger as she fights for a future that is rosy.

If you are looking for a gritty British drama to enjoy on the big screen this week, look no further than Keeping Rosy. Peake is on fine form in the central role, as she continues to tackle interesting and daring movie roles.

And we are going to be seeing plenty of Peake on the big screen over the coming months, as she has completed work on a series of different projects.

One of the early 2015 movies that I am already looking forward to is The Theory of Everything, as James Marsh returns to the director’s chair.

Marsh has brought us fantastic documentaries such as Man on Wire and Project Nim, but now he returns to live action with this new film.

Theory of Everything follows the relationship of Stephen Hawking and his wife Jane: Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones are on board as Stephen and Jane Hawking.

A terrific ensemble cast has been assembled for the film, as Redmayne and Jones are joined by Charlie Cox, Emily Watson, Harry Lloyd, David Thewlis, and Peake.

The Theory of Everything looks set to be one of the biopics of 2015, and really is a movie that is not to be missed.

Peake has also teamed up with director Carol Morley in her new film The Falling.

Morley has been behind films The Alcohol Years, Edge, and Dreams of a Life, as she returns to the director’s chair the first time since Dreams of a Life back in 2011.

While the plot for The Falling is being kept under wraps, Peake is joined on the cast list by Greta Scacchi, Maisie Williams, and Monica Dolan.

Peake has also completed work on two shorts The Heart Fails Without Warning and Keeping Up with the Joneses and has been cast in new film Funny Cow.

I have been a fan of Peake’s work throughout her career, as she has moved from Dinnerladies, Shameless to See No Evil: The Moors Murders.

While she has enjoyed huge television success in recent years, the big screen beckons for Peake this year… and films is somewhere she really belongs.

Keeping Rosy is out now.


Bafta Shorts 2014 review: Keeping up with the Joneses

The most ambitious film was Keeping Up With the Joneses, written by Selina Lim and directed by Michael Pearce, which at 28 minutes felt like a trailer for a complete, but unformed feature film. Maxine Peake is very good as the wife of a corrupt MP whose dodgy associates kidnap her. It looks and feels very accomplished, though a crucial transition in the relationship with Pearce and her kidnapper Geoff Bell comes a little out of nowhere. Never mind: it’s impressive work.


Maxine Peake’s short film ‘Keeping Up With The Joneses’ BAFTA nominated

Maxine Peake’s short film ‘Keeping Up With The Joneses’ BAFTA nominated

Maxine’s short film “Keeping Up With The Jones” is nominated at this year’s EE British Academy Film Awards (BAFTA). Congrats!

Keeping Up With The Joneses – Megan Rubens, Michael Pearce, Selina Lim
Cast includes: Maxine Peake, Geoff Bell, Adeel Akhtar, Anamaria Marinca

The impeccable wife of an MP confronts the imprisoned reality of her life after being taken hostage by two of her husband’s business associates.

The UK-wide rollout of BAFTA short 2014 begins with a special screening at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London on 28 February.


Keeping Up With the Joneses: Behind the Scenes photo

Keeping Up With the Joneses: Behind the Scenes photo

Third to shoot was black comedy Keeping Up With the Joneses, the story of the wife of an MP who discovers her husband’s true colours when she’s taken hostage by his criminal business associates.

Written by Selina Lim, directed by BAFTA nominated Michael Pearce and produced by Megan Stuart Wallace, the film features a strong cast including Maxine Peake, Geoff Bell and Adeel Aktar.

director Michael Pearce and Maxine Peake


New Project: Keeping Up With The Joneses

Stars of the silver screen descend on Gravesend cafe for filming

From a roadside cafe to the Cannes Film Festival, it’s all in a day’s work for Laurie and Ann Yeomans.

Nell’s Cafe, which they have run for 30 years, has been transformed into a film set and besieged by famous actors.

The classic diner, next to the A2 at Gravesend, became a fried chicken hut for a black comedy that will be entered in one of the world’s most famous film festivals.

Called Keeping up with the Joneses, it stars screen favourite Maxine Peake (Shameless, Silk, The Village) as an MP’s wife who is kidnapped by two criminals, including Geoff Bell (War Horse, Brighton Rock, Ripper Street). Maxine is pictured, left, having her make-up done at Nell’s Cafe.

Geoff and accomplice Adeel Akhtar (Four Lions, Utopia) arrive in an 80s-style car at the cafe and end up fighting a man in a giant chicken costume.

Chef Joe Holderness, of Palmer Avenue, Gravesend, was one of several staff and customers roped in as extras.

The 19-year-old, pictured right with actor Geoff Bell, said: “I had to walk in front of the curtain and look to see what was going on, look shocked then go back into the kitchen.

“It was pretty fun. I’ve never done any acting and it only took about four takes.”

Shot over six days, the short film by BAFTA-nominated director Michael Pearce is one of 16 to have been handed up to £50,000 by the British Film Institute.

Its producers are hopeful it will be finished this summer and make it to big-name festivals like Sundance or Cannes.

Production manager Suzie Frize-Williams said: “We’re going to be submitting it to the international film festivals. We’ve got an extremely good team that’s been working very hard.”

It is not the first time celebrities have descended on the cafe, where a team spent a week filming the Robson Green TV series Grafters in the 1990s.

Mrs Yeomans said: “We must be on the BBC’s list of places to go if they need a traditional cafe. There’s not many of us roadside restaurants left.

“We had Chris Evans here for breakfast once and Joe Pasquale likes coming in. Jools Holland loves our liver and bacon dinner.”

Mr Yeomans added: “The whole world comes in here. We’ve met people on holiday who remembered us.”