Philip Barantini, the director and co-writer of the real-time restaurant drama Boiling Point, has told RTÉ Entertainment that he was left with one night to shoot the entire movie start to finish as the March 2020 lockdown loomed and he received the news that production was being closed down within hours.

Filmed entirely in one take, Barantini and co-writer James Cummings' searing study of the workplace and its diverse personalities sees Stephen Graham leading a superb cast as close-to-breakdown chef Andy Jones.

The drama on screen was matched by what actor-turned-director Barantini - a 15-year restaurant veteran between acting gigs - faced off it as he tried to turn his acclaimed short into a feature just as the shutters came down.

"We shot this in March 2020," he told RTÉ Entertainment. "We'd given ourselves four nights and we were going to do it twice per night. We'd do the take, have a break, I'd give all the notes to everybody, then we'd do it again and we'd all go home, come back the next day. So we were going to do it [film Boiling Point] eight times in total - that was the plan. March 2020...

"After the first night's shoot, I wasn't completely happy with the takes. We'd got through it and there wasn't any stumbles or anything like that - that was a bonus! - so I knew we could get through it. I had a lot of notes and stuff and I thought, 'Well, we've got six more gos at this, we're going to get it. We'll get the take - we're almost there'.

Philip Barantini - "Everyone just pulled together, it was a beautiful experience"

"After the first night, we all wrapped and probably went home about midnight. I was still awake at three in the morning talking to my cinematographer about the next day and what we were going to do and what we needed to change.

"The producers called me up really late - like, three in the morning - and I thought, 'What's going on here? There's something not right here'. Obviously, prior to that, Covid was becoming a bit scary and there was talk of a potential lockdown and everyone was really nervous.

"The producers just said, 'Look, this is too risky. We've got people who are living with elderly parents or grandparents or whatever and they just don't want to be there. Tomorrow is going to have to be our last day - we're going to have to pull the plug after tomorrow'. I was like, 'Oh you are kidding me...'

"Obviously, I'm quite a sort of positive person - but this was an ask! I wanted to go in the next day with a positive mindset [so] I didn't tell everyone that this was going to be the last day because that would've freaked a lot of people out! We just said, 'We're going to get it in this one'. And then we did it.

"The third take was great, the performances were phenomenal, but there were a few tiny technical things. I thought, 'We'll iron them out. It'll be spot on - it'll be the perfect take'. We did iron the technical things out [on the next take] but then the performances were slightly flatter because everyone was really tired.

Stephen Graham as chef Andy Jones in Boiling Point

"So we wrapped and went home and it was just like this mad world and we all got locked in our houses. I had to watch the takes back. I watched the two takes of the second night because the first two weren't suitable really. Once I knew we could iron out the little technical things - some shadows and reflections and things like that - it was all about performance. It's always got to be about performances - if you're not watching the performances, you're watching for these technical things and then I think we've lost the audience. So the take we've used is the third one."

Unlike, for example, Sam Mendes' real-time 1917, there are no hidden edits in Boiling Point - what you see is what happened over an hour and a half on that night in March 2020.

"Listen, I wouldn't be able to live with myself if I lied about that," laughed Barantini when asked if there were any cuts. "I really wouldn't!"

Boiling Point's real-time ructions are frighteningly realistic and heart-rending. Viewers will see themselves in these characters, and their reactions, as the lid comes off everything that they've piled into the pot.

"Nobody's perfect, right?" said the director. "Everybody's got two masks that they put on. One of them is the forward-facing mask and the other one's the private mask.

Vinette Robinson (centre) as lynchpin sous chef Carly

"I think, especially in this day and age with social media and all that kind of stuff, it's kind of sad to see. There's a lot more mental health [problems] and people struggling out there. The film, for me, I almost want to shine a little bit of a light onto society. If anybody can relate to any of the moments in the film and maybe go, 'That's me' or 'I know somebody who's going through something like that - maybe I should reach out to them...', then that's a win for me."

"Everything that's in the film is based on something that I've witnessed or experienced or gone through myself," he continued. "All my research was done over the 12-15 years or whatever that I worked in restaurants.

"If you've ever worked in that industry, hopefully you can relate to some things. But if you haven't worked in that industry, you've definitely eaten in a restaurant! And if you've been the person that's been polite and not complained, you can see that there are people who are definitely more inclined to do that and be ********* for no apparent reason!"

Boiling Point is screening at the Light House Cinema in Dublin and Palás in Galway. It is also available to rent on YouTube, Google Play, Prime Video and more.

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