The People Behind The Film
The super-couple is a truly modern phenomenon. Coined in the early 1980s (as a response to the intense public interest in the fictional pairing of Luke Spencer and Laura Webber in General Hospital), it has since been applied retrospectively into the real world. Examples include: Burton and Taylor, Brangelina, Ken & Barbie and, of course, Natheresa… erm… who? Natheresa… Oh come on. You must have heard of these two. Nathan Bryon and Theresa Varga? …No?… Oh… Well, if you want to be in the cool gang then you’d better get with it, dude. For it will not be long before these two are a household name. They are a prolific film making couple who have gone from producing a huge portfolio of comic sketches on YouTube, to headlining their new film, Mustard, at the No Limits film festival in New York (we are in the process of officially begging for it – so hands off). Young, fun and bubbling over with an infectiously positive energy, they are on a path to fulfilment as a creative duo with a clearly exponential development in their output.
Long Story short. I didn’t know shit.
Theresa fell into film making when she realised that fashion wasn’t her thing after all. Nathan became hooked via the White City Youth Theatre, while working on a short film called Block (with Sheila Hancock and James Purefoy), which, it just so happens, had a crew member called Theresa Varga. Just so you know, she attended college at Ravensbourne, which hosted one of our Snoovies events last year. It’s a small world.
Then, up until 2014, Nathan went on to work on the BBC3 production Some Girls (playing Jamie Bennett), which he says “…was an incredible experience.” Being a recurring character for all three seasons was a blessing for him and started opening some doors. We asked if Theresa had done any acting. After a stunned silence, she burst into giggles, and eventually admitted it’s not really for her.
Of course there was a plan! But we were fluid with it.
Nathan was the writer for YouTroll, and it is much darker than his earlier work, which was mostly a series of comedy sketches. They’re very funny and have the look of a guerrilla production, but you can see how the filming technique (and the writing) progress with each one. YouTroll was the result of a chance story Nathan had come across, and which resonated. “I had a bit of a rough time at school.” Nathan however doesn’t believe that people can be just evil, and wanted to explore the idea of cyber bullying from the point of view of the perpetrator. Initially the film was a monologue performed on stage by the excellent Isaac Ssebandeke, who managed to bring it very successfully to camera. However, without too much planning, Theresa and Nathan realized that there needed to be extra elements to do justice to the concept.
We kept all 8 minutes… he made it captivating.
One of the striking moments (in a film with many striking moments), was the sudden use of a hellish red projected backdrop over the actor and his bedroom wall. It had a Brechtian effect of removing the audience from the story, while at the same time telling the viewer what was happening in the mind of the protagonist – mostly pretty horrible stuff. Rather cleverly, we are then drawn back into the story as Ola directs the meat of the film, the monologue, direct to camera. It is a mesmerising performance – nearly eight minutes long. Theresa and Nathan had nothing but admiration for Isaac and his portrayal. He brought the script to life, made no mistakes and simply took suggestions that Theresa had already marked on the script to help with the emotional arc. And quite brilliantly we are pulled into his mind, understanding and being repulsed at the same time – partly by his words and partly the great use of putting him in and out of a YouTube frame. This is exciting stuff – seriously. It’s an accidental experiment that works so well it makes you wonder if there is order in the universe. A bit like penicillin accidently being discovered just in time to mass-produce for allied soldiers shagging their way through the brothels of Europe and the Far East. I digress
She did a Q&A with a Hollywood director!
Theresa shows a great deal of finesse with the cutting room knife, sparingly cutting shots in a way that engages, and certainly in this film, excites. Maybe we’re over egging the batter here. There are some people out there who don’t like YouTroll. Go figure. Perhaps it pushes a little too far for them, in which case we say they really need to sit down and watch the BAFTA shorts for a real mind-f***. Anyway, we needed to ask about Theresa’s processes while editing. Her abilities with camera and cutter are beginning to pay off. She took a Q&A at the No Limits Short Film Festival in New York at the end of 2014 for Mustard, directed by her (and again written by Nathan). This is another brooding film with a style that counterpoints the theme and characters to disturbing effect. It’s the sort of film that catapults the makers into features.
Meanwhile Nathan is keeping busy. He writes scripts for the children’s CBBC TV show Rastamouse, which is about a crime-fighting band from the normally tranquil Caribbean island of Mouseland who work directly on the orders of Da President. This year he will be in The Friday Download Movie (also on CBBC). Theresa is currently working on a short film for spoken word artist Lettie McKnee and also on a new film The Salon. As in much of her work, The Salon will continue her goal of pushing forward female leads and characters.