Classic cold-callers move from tedious to hilarious in President of AirTV Calum Cownie’s latest short film, Door to Door. Premiering at the AirTV Awards (ATVAs), Door to Door shows the joyful struggles of three door-to-door salesmen when some unanticipated trouble comes their way.
Cownie’s film, which so far only his flatmate and mum have seen (and enjoyed) is his swan song before he graduates from Stirling University. Brig was able to catch up with Cownie before the premiere, getting the lowdown on the ATVAs, Door to Door, and the joys of independent filmmaking.
Cownie first spoke about what inspired the film, telling Brig what was intriguing about the premise of door-to-door salesmen. He also divulged his struggles of juggling university and hobbies, and how he ultimately succeeded in his balancing act.
“I was struggling to write something for a while, uni work and all that was happening. So, I sat down with some people in Wetherspoons and started to speak through ideas. I wanted to write something that was kind of like montage-y and quick; I wanted something where I could go to a bunch of doors and I was beginning to think ‘Aw, door-to-door salesmen! They would be quite funny and bumbling’.
“You could say it is sort of like Book of Mormon, kind of jokey and a bit bumbling, a bit awkward with the kind of determined sort of religious military optimism where they just have to be happy at all times.
“I thought was quite funny to play on that. I also wanted to put them in an unlikely situation… a bit of a spanner into the works in their life.
“It’s just a funny little film I wanted to make and I thought it would be quite fun. It’s my final year to just make something and enjoy the process.”
With the hectic schedule of a fourth-year student and society President, Brig enquired about Cownie’s unique writing process.
“Well, I was writing with some other directors who are also in this [ATVA]. They had ideas already… I had nothing. Howver, once I started, I just kind of… I just kept going. And I finished the whole script in Wetherspoons there. It was only eight pages but we were for there for like half the day. And I just banged it all out there.
“Over the next few weeks, I was in the middle of my dissertation but I just kept updating it and changing it, adding bits here and there. Then, when we actually got on to filming, I only had about two and a half days to film it. I had to tweak it as well then just depending on the locations available. The process changed throughout but the script, the original script I wrote in spoons, stayed the same. It was quite a fun process.”
Independent filmmaking requires a lot of hands-on effort. Cownie spoke about his filming process and how he engaged both his friends and the community when creating Door to Door.
“We just filmed all over Stirling. I put an open call out to as many people as I could who have a front door saying ‘I’m gonna kind of like use your front door and do you want a cameo?’
“Location-wise, when I was writing it I was like ‘Oh wait it’s only a cast of four so it won’t be too bad’ and then I quickly realised ‘Hold on, I need front doors and people to open them’ so the cast kind of grew from there.
“The main locations where the scenes were set… there’s some in my flat, there’s some in Kings Park but the rest of them are just around Stirling on the streets on people’s front doors. People were very kind to me and offered their doors, basically just let us open their front doors.
“It’s all around Stirling. if you watch the film you can spot everywhere basically from Kings part to Union Street.
“There’s one location I quite like, it’s one of the front doors in John Forty’s [Court] which had a nice glass door. I created a funny bit with that, so I quite like that one.”
Moving from places, we spoke next about people. With a small cast of four core characters, Brig asked what were they looking for when casting for the film, particularly in casting the protagonist, Abraham.
“When I was writing there was only one character who, as I was writing it, I thought ‘They can probably play them’. That was Henry [Swindell] who plays Abraham.
“For the other two, I was looking for people who would work well with him because it’s a lot of playing with and against each other. So, I thought of Franco [Nazareno] who’s a close friend of mine and pretty good at acting; he’s president of SUDS (Stirling University Drama Society), so I thought he’d be quite good in his role. Also, I thought of Paul [Cowie] who plays Abraham.
“They all know each other, they know their strengths and weaknesses so they kind of just play with each other quite well. There’s a lot of improv… they just kind of took my script and brought it to life. So I like that. “
Speaking of the final product, we moved on to speak about the ATVAs as a whole. Brig asked Cownie what films he is excited to see, followed by why people should attend the ATVAs.
“There are so many good films this year. We have more films than ever. We have more films than the past two ATVAs combined this year… we’ve a whopping 18.
“I’m looking forward to Rock Hard, directed by Maisie Pirrie. Tripped Up by Marsha Lewis. Of course, The Plant Man and Walnut Man I’m really looking forward to. The rest of them, I’m looking forward to too. There isn’t a running order of which ones I’m the most excited for.
“So yeah, come to the ATVAs! It’s a great time. It’s AirTVs biggest night of the year and it’s just we have a good time. Again, there are more films than ever and it’s more people there than there’s been in a long time. there’s such a range of films I think as well. Every year we have amazing content but I feel like this year has just gone above and beyond with the range of stuff and quality so I feel like just come along.”
Feature image credit: @/airtvonline on Instagram
Journalism and English Studies student with an interest in film & tv, music, and politics.
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