This is the story of how CONTRACTOR 014352 came to be.

Like many stories before, our's begins with three guys: Simon, Zak and Tibo. Just three film-loving fellas trying to get ahead in the movie biz...

Photo by Luigi Cianfarano / Shorts On Tap

In 2013 they spent a few weekends making a self-financed short film called The Elevator Pitch, which reflected on just that: trying to make it in 'the biz'.

Zak wrote it, Tibo produced and Simon directed. And what began as a private joke about the Virgin Media Awards, turned out to be a Vimeo Staff Pick, opening film at London Short Film Festival, and a finalist at Sundance London 2014. It also got Simon nominated for IMDB’s filmmaker of the year award 2014. It’s even been dubbed in Russian!


While the short film  picked up accolades around the world, Simon, Zak and Tibo looked at each other and said, “let’s make another one!” Simon remembered a poem that Zak had written a few years before and suggested adapting it as a short film.


So Zak got to work adapting a little poem called Contractor 014352 for the screen...

Zak’s poem was dreamt up while working as a data entry clerk for a spineless corporate firm. The firm had decided to drop thousands of its contractors from their books, and Zak’s job was essentially to fire them by email, using a template. He had very mixed feelings about this - personally and politically, and these sentiments formed the foundation of the short film.

After much discussion with Simon, Zak went away and wrote the script and after a few drafts, it was ready to show. Simon and Tibo really, really liked it; although it’s fair to say Tibo had a few reservations about the overblown VFX sequences required, which included a baby flying through space and the entire universe dissolving into a pint of beer. Achieving this without a Hollywood budget would be challenging…

Spoiler alert!

But then they met VFX Supervisor Phil Davies, an uber-talented artist with a passion for glitch effects and the face of a 1940s movie star. The boys came to him for advice. His response was: “It’ll be fine dude!”. So they went with it.

Because the scale of the script was much larger than they first expected, the team knew they’d need to raise some money. So like many other filmmakers before, the guys decided to go with Kickstarter. For their video, they just went for two guys on a couch talking about the film. With an added twist...

Planning the film. The picture of David Cameron dates it a little...

The guys knew that crowdfunding was more than just a funny video, so they decided to try and innovate with their rewards. They wanted to bring something new, and give their backers something truly special. That’s how Cinematic Spectacles came about.

The filmmakers took to the streets to promote their campaign. Shouting about it at festivals, short film nights and taking interviews with film blogs.

The response was positive. The guys overshot their target and raised nearly £13,000.


Fast forward three months and they were ready to start shooting, with London’s best crew, a cast of familiar faces and some stunning locations. The guys expanded their treasure trove of talents to include art design wizards Daniel Vincent and Basmah Jolley; the keen eye of cinematographer Andrew Alderslade; and the tip top tailoring of Jeffrey Michael. And with Johnny Flynn attached to play the lead, supported by Omar Khan and Daniel Ings - Contractor 014352 was ready to come alive!

On a beautiful February morning, filming began on Contractor 014352. The shoot took place over 4 days in a variety of locations across London and outer space...

Photo by Luigi Cianfarano / Shorts On Tap

Photo by Luigi Cianfarano / Shorts On Tap

“Movie magic eh?”

- Max, runner

After the shoot, the guys realised how much green screen they’d need to remove from the footage. Seriously, there was tonnes of it.

Fortunately, Phil was ready to take over. “It’ll be fine dude”

Early days working on VFX in Phil's studio. The calm before the storm.

Of course, he was right. But it took a very long time. The vast majority of the VFX work was handled by Phil himself, despite his admission “I had no idea there would be this much to do!”. Other VFX artists jumped in to help, but it was mainly Phil. So after battling with post production blues for months (as well as the greens) and about a million spreadsheets later...

One of the many, many pages of our VFX schedule. Green meant complete!

Three years after its inception, in November 2016 Simon, Zak and Tibo finally showed off their baby to a packed-out audience of hardworking crew, patient cast, and generous Kickstarter backers. Thankfully, no one asked for their money back - phew.

The cast, crew and backers react to seeing their film.

So, there it is. Contractor 014352. Ready to take on the world.


And one year on, how did it do?

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