THE LAST JEFF is a tiny comedy about family ties, with a massive concept at the heart of it - what if the last man on Earth wasn’t as alone as he thought? What secrets would someone who thinks they’re truly alone in this world finally give up on hiding? And how do you reach out and help someone who has no idea that you even exist?
Maddy and her dad Jeff have been emotionally distant their entire lives, but when she gets a call telling her that he’s just woken up from a coma she didn’t even know about, she takes a much feared trip out of her carefully-assembled comfort zone to investigate.
What she finds at the hospital will change her life forever; a doctor oblivious to the severity of the situation, a health-care system totally unequipped to deal with mental illness, and Jeff, lost in his own dissociated state and unable to sense those around him - finally laid bare, and able to express himself, but in the cringiest and most deeply traumatising way possible.
Inspired by the wickedly dark senses of humour of Julia Davis, Alice Lowe, Ben Wheatley and other British genre masters, and leaning into the Scandinavian coldness of comedy legends Roy Andersson and Ruben Östlund, this is a film about distance, our relationships with our parents, and the building issues of treating mental health.
It probably comes as no real surprise that a film about that holy trifecta of emotional distance, shifting parental relationships, and the difficulties of treating mental health through the NHS wasn’t just plucked from the air. These are all based around very real experiences, embellished to the level of ludicrousness, because comedy is the best medicine. In fact, it’s the only real way I (writer/director Ben) know how to process any of it at all.
I’m a very strong believer in the importance of genre, and the power of the ridiculous. Both are gateways to opening up heavy topics to wider audiences. THE LAST JEFF is a shot at opening that door a little wider, and addressing these serious themes, whilst giving us all a decent laugh too.
This film came to life three years ago while in a very tricky place, and is the most tenacious, and honest, thing I’ve written. It sat on a shelf for two years while I learned the craft and figured out how the hell to make it, and has been actively moving forward ever since. We would be well and truly lost without the love and support of the crew and the other incredibly kind and generous friends and industry supporters who have helped to develop it this far.
The tricky bit now is to go out and make it, and make it properly. Even with some of our own cash thrown in, we’re short - and that’s why we’re asking for help.
BEN ROBINS (writer/director)
This is my second short, expanding on the humour and influence of my first, LOSING IT, an equally dark comedy about sex and early relationships, that was supported by Creative England, the National Youth Theatre, and Sky’s #shortFLIX programme, premiering on Sky Arts in May 2018 (and still available to stream on NOW TV as part of ‘ShortFlix Presents’), before going on to screen at film festivals all over the world, including New York City’s sex-positive CineKink, and a coveted Late Lounge slot at Encounters.
I have also written for both TV and the web, now working in comedy at Troika, supporting actors, presenters and comedians with their digital and social media projects.
I am beyond thrilled to be able to re-team with some of my creative heroes from past projects, and to be joined by some obscenely talented new friends:
MICHAEL PEERS (producer)
Michael is an award-winning producer of digital content for leading cultural organisations including The Old Vic, Tower Bridge and the National Theatre. He has worked across all types of video content and artists/filmmakers, and now can’t wait to bring THE LAST JEFF to life.
RACHEL DURANCE (editor)
Rachel is an accomplished editor and assistant editor. A member of the BFI NETWORK x BAFTA Crew scheme, her credits include the aforementioned LOSING IT, the hugely celebrated shorts LADIES DAY and BATTY BOY (both screened at BFI Flare), as well as New York web series ADULT (which got into the Tribeca Creators Market), and assistant credits on YESTERDAY, KINGSMAN: THE SECRET SERVICE, ASSASSIN’S CREED, THE LEGEND OF TARZAN, MUTE and Ken Loach’s SORRY WE MISSED YOU.
ERIN DOHERTY (lead - ‘Maddy’)
Erin was featured as one of Screen Daily’s Stars of Tomorrow 2018, recently also being featured by the Evening Standard as a ‘rising star’, and plays Princess Anne in the forthcoming series of Netflix hit THE CROWN. Her other credits include LES MISERABLES (BBC), CALL THE MIDWIFE (BBC), WOLFIE (Theatre 503), A CHRISTMAS CAROL (The Old Vic) and MY NAME IS RACHEL CORRIE (Young Vic).
ADAM BARNETT (director of photography)
Adam shot his first feature, TWO GRAVES, a few months after graduating from the NFTS. A photojournalist for VICE news prior to the NFTS, originally from the North of England but now living in London, Adam creates crafted and considered work. His other credits include LOSING IT, THEY FOUND HER IN A FIELD, PRESENT, THE THINGS I SEE: LIVING WITH PSYCHOSIS and many more.
LIAM CAMERON (sound mixer)
Liam is a sound designer and re-recording mixer who works across film and television. His recent projects include Julia Davis’ SALLY4EVER, BBC's CUCKOO and Disney's 101 DALMATION STREET.
SARAH PLAYFORD (composer)
Sarah is a recent graduate from the Royal College of Music (MComp in Composition for the Screen, 2018). Her work includes BARBEQUE, a collaboration with director Jenny Jokela, screened as part of Channel 4's Random Acts; a composition for RADA's production of WOMEN BEWARE WOMEN at the Jerwood Vanbrugh Theatre; and an orchestral piece performed and recorded in the Amaryllis Flemming Concert Hall.
CONG NGUYEN (concept artist)
Cong comes from an animation background, holding BA Animation and Screenwriting Hons, where he found interest in storyboarding and went on to gain his MA Animation Distinction from Arts University Bournemouth, specialising in storyboarding for animation. He now works full-time as a freelancer providing storyboard, concept art, poster for film, television and commercial.
With more cast and crew to be announced in the build up to shooting, this summer!
Like LOSING IT, this is a single scene, pulled apart at the seams and twisted every which way, letting the tension, madness and hilarity of it all not only breathe, but ache on screen. The only way to do this kind of comedy justice is to give it as much room as possible to do its thing, so to take a leaf out of Roy Andersson’s book, the whole film will be shot in one room, with one camera, as one extreme wide shot.
No bells, no whistles. Just an anarchic situation, turned right up to 11 and, just like Jeff, laid bare on screen.
Such a small production does need a certain amount of money to get going however, and with your kind backing, we can hire the necessary kit, cover the basic overheads (food, travel, insurance) and make sure our cast and crew are well looked after.
The entire film is being put together as a passion project around our usual 9-5 jobs, so whatever you can pledge towards keeping the dream alive is massively appreciated.
Risks and challenges
As an incredibly small production, we’re hoping to minimise any risks we may face during shooting by keeping the entire set-up as bare bones as possible. However, we are committed to always having a contingency plan in place to deal with any unforeseen circumstances that might arise, from things like actors’ schedules, to the loss of locations etc.
We are confident that by reaching the fundraising goal, we’ll be able to not only deliver the film outlined above, but also make a splash at film festivals around the world.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)