Jon Schey doesn’t dwell on his ideas. He puts them to work. Having just graduated film school last month in London, at age 20, screenwriter, filmmaker, and director Jon Schey happens to have an impressive amount of accomplishments under his belt. Seasoned theatre and film lovers always can tell talent apart at an early age – and Jon has melded his passion for theatre, film, and comedy writing and used it to his advantage.
After being hand-picked by the Royal Court Theatre studio group’s Young Writers Program, Jon began writing his own tales of creative comedy and watching them be acted out by professional actors right in front of him. Jon has worked in the fast-paced film and theatre environments, bouncing ideas back and forth, and trying to make people laugh for a short while, but according to his accomplishments which seem nearly effortless, he is as seasoned as one who has been doing it all his life.
Jon’s first full-length film was a film about a young boy losing his virginity, and follows through what went on prior and after the night. The filmmaker is inspired by adolescence and the humour involved in growing up. After winning the title of Best Foreign Film and the Audience Choice Award at the LA Comedy Film Festival, (and not to boast, but also Best Director and Best Screenplay nominations) Jon has used a hint of subtle and awkward comedy in his next big-feature short film, entitled I Want to Be Happy, Cha Cha Cha.
“I find inspiration in loads of different, strange places. One huge inspiration for me is music – a big band called Enoch Light and the Light Brigade inspired a bit of my upcoming film. I’m inspired by weird quirky things, coming of age, and music from the 1940s” Jon speaks whilst looking up at the suddenly-sunny sky while smiling, the signs of being a true Londoner enjoying the recent minutes of sunshine.
I Want to Be Happy, Cha Cha Cha is a title that is named after an Enoch Light song, which also appears in the film. While working at the Royal Court, Jon met a writer called Luke Barnes, who is a fantastic Northern playwright from Liverpool. One may recognise him as an actor from the popular series Game of Thrones. “We got on really well, and I proposed to him that I would love to work on an idea of a film with him, I showed him some of my writing, and I loved the idea of working with someone else’s script,” Jon recounts.
“All I knew was I wanted it to be filmed in a diner, an old eighties diner, and mix it with quintessentially English elements, you know, cold, dreary, but wanted to make it like an American diner film involving chips, and all that food,” Jon says, eyes opening up as he explains that its all the little ideas he works with, and he moves up from those elements.
Luke took it all in, and next thing Jon knows he is reading a great screenplay that consists of zero dialogue, about a not very attractive girl who develops a crush on a truck driver who comes into her Little Chef every Wednesday on his delivery route. The challenge for Jon was not only the rareness and quirkiness of the script, but working around his ground rules; “a film should be 80% understandable in any language, one should always understand what is going on, we wanted to tell a story with no words, just images and signs and the viewer still knowing what the characters are going through,”
Those are the types of film Schey enjoys, an element of comedy or relief in tragic events. In this particular film, its interesting how he finds comedy in a sad situation, a girl living in the middle of nowhere, but has to work in a dowdy travel complex, and the viewer still laughs while watching the film – its the reality of it that makes his particular film making process so imaginative and admirable.
“I do not like serious films, I like relating my films and themes to real life in which you don’t just have one set, strict emotion, there are several going on at the same time,” Jon says as he cheerfully finishes his cappuccino. Wow. Did I mention he was only twenty?
I WANT TO BE HAPPY, CHA CHA CHA is out at the end of May.
Follow Jon Schey on film updates and his great sense of humour with Twitter, @JonSchey