Bad Beat, the new short from Jake Cauty, doesn’t mess about. You’re dropped straight into the action, mid-sentence almost.
Bad Beat opens with two policemen sitting in a car chatting. Simple enough. But it’s not long before your film-watching spider senses start to itch. Like a distant doppler effect nee-nah, the alarm siren starts sounding. Only it’s difficult to know which direction it’s coming from, and it keeps getting louder. It’s a build-up of unknown, unnerving tension that has you creeping ever closer to the edge of your seat.
Bad Beat is already making its way to film festivals – another compelling reason to get to them (when you can) to see the talent on show in front of and behind the camera.
Bad Beat began as a scribbled idea about two crap cops in 2018. The first proper draft appeared in 2020. Fourteen rewrites and countless changes later they had a script. What followed was a day’s shoot plus 200 hours, and Bad Beat was finished.
A testament to the authenticity Jake demanded was his desire to use the chilling heft of real weapons. Even with an armourer and full training, a location was hard to pin down. Especially in the climate of Devon after the Plymouth shootings.
But they secured one, and that combo of off-kilter personalities and the oomph of the situation certainly pays off. The tension is turned up with clever editing, fantastic pacing, atmospheric music and absorbing performances from Tom Fitzgerald and George Williams. They mined the characters to create personalities you want to watch and see more of. They had the script six months and there was a day of rehearsal before the shoot, where they honed their performances even more.
“We ironed out a lot of things,” says Jake. “There were things that didn’t work and there were things that were funny that could be funnier.” In fact, Jake’s favourite line came from that day of development.
On set Tom and George inhabited the characters, with people doing double-takes seeing them in the uniform of their role. “Everyone involved was putting in their all,” Jake told D&CFilm at the premiere of Bad Beat.
“I wanted to put some subtleties in there, and I wanted a lot left to the viewer’s imagination as well.
“Tonight it was the first time I was able to watch it as an audience member. It was nice hearing silence at the critical moments and to hear giggling every now and then. It means the funny parts were funny and the tense parts were tense.”
The experience has been exhilarating.
“It’s spurred me on,” said Jake. “It’s inspired me to definitely go out there and make another film. I’ve started writing again already. Just seeing everyone’s reaction tonight, and everyone smiling faces coming out. And the feedback already… I can’t wait to get back on it and make another one! It’s just a matter of time!”