- LOS ANGELES
One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. That axiom literally applies to director Jonathan Entwistle who spied a page of a self-published comic book in a trash bin behind a book store. “It was a xeroxed ‘fanzine’ type thing, number three in a sequence and it caught my interest,” recalled Entwistle who immediately went back in the store to get a look-see at other issues. “They only had number six and nine. Slowly but surely, though, I got a hold of others.”
Entwistle also reached out to the comic book creator, emailing Charles Forsman. “I showed him a film I made and we set out to develop something.”
Forsman’s serialized graphic comic book novel spawned The End of the F***ing World, Entwistle’s TV adaptation for U.K.’s Channel 4 and Netflix. Season one--consisting of eight episodes--has recently found a global audience and gained critical acclaim. Entwistle directed the lion’s share of the episodes, with others helmed by Lucy Tcherniak.
As for what captivated him about that initial page he happened to run across in the trash, Entwistle explained, “I never had seen anything quite so simply cinematic. What Chuck can do with black lines on a white sheet of paper is remarkable. His book is full of amazing scenes that feel as if they came from movies from 1973 to 1998, an era of films I love and where this show is set. The way he draws is far more cinematic than what you see in the big comic books.”
The dark comedy-drama inspired by Forsman’s “The End of the Fucking World” introduces us to James (Alex Lawther), a 17-year-old who thinks he’s a psychopath, and Alyssa (Jessica Barden), a rebellious classmate who sees in James a chance to escape from her mundane, hypocritical home life. Their adventure together as well as their relationship take a series of different turns, making for a wild ride and an offbeat teen romance.
Entwistle originally wrote a movie version but then Netflix arrived and thoughts turned to a series. But the show, observed Entwistle, “is like a movie with its story arc,” translating well into episodic television.
Entwistle came to the series with extensive commercialmaking experience, having been represented by production house Stink Films in London since he got out of film school. He’s one of the longest rostered directors at the company, with a new chapter having recently begun as Stink is now representing him in the U.S. as well. This marks Entwistle’s first ad roost in the American market.
His notable Stink work spans music videos, commercials and branded content. Among the music clips is Seafret’s “Oceans” starring Maisie Williams from Game of Thrones. In it, Williams plays a bullied teen who finds solace in her childhood dressing box but a homemade superhero outfit carries some amazing side effects. Made on a shoestring budget, “Oceans” generated some 45 million hits on YouTube.
Meanwhile, Entwistle’s spotmaking credits span such brands as Netflix, Nike, Paypal and GEOX. The client-direct Netflix spot, “500 Hours,” centers on a guy looking to impress a lovely lass who’s a big fan of Orange Is the New Black. We see him binge watching the show in preparation for their next meeting. The spot breaks out into a musical, paying tribute to the “binge for love” mantra.
Entwistle observed that his commercialmaking experience served him well when he diversified into the TV series world. “Commercials teach you how to be a director while still having to work for someone. That’s important for a director in any medium. In commercials you learn how to spend other people’s money smartly, how to collaborate and compromise. You cannot shoulder TV unless you understand the art of compromise. There’s no ‘it’s my way or the highway’ if you are going to survive. Commercials taught me that there is always something to answer to and you have to navigate that to bring the project to life.”
The recent debut of The End of the F***ing World serves as a sort of coming out party for Entwistle in the U.S.
Entwistle just sold another new show to Netflix, has a couple of movie projects in the hopper, and is looking to step up his commercialmaking in the U.S. “It’s an interesting time for commercials with the rise of streaming. I also think U.S. scripts suit my style which is non-pretentious, funny but with a bit of sadness at the same time.”
The director hopes The End of the F***ing World will generate interest among American agency creatives and producers, putting him in line for an eclectic mix of concepts and storytelling opportunities with elements of comedy and drama.
Also being explored are prospects for there being no imminent end to The End of the F***ing World. “We’re thinking about what we can do next, looking at ways of doing a season two,” said Entwistle.