Private Project

Be Here Now

A white-collar worker with an all consuming passion for “success” spends her youth in corporate servitude in the name of delayed gratification. But what if gratification and fulfilment delayed is gratification and fulfilment forgone?

  • James Stephen Roberts
    American Dreamers
  • Maddie Rice
    Key Cast
    Fleabag, My Policeman
  • Project Type:
  • Runtime:
    8 minutes 37 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    April 12, 2021
  • Production Budget:
    1,500 GBP
  • Country of Origin:
    United Kingdom
  • Country of Filming:
    United Kingdom
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Director - James Stephen Roberts
Director Statement

I walked out of a corporate law job with a $250,000+ salary at 23 years old for one reason: to escape the growing sense of apathy choking young professionals in their twenties and thirties. Many of us trade our youth in exchange for a vague sense of credibility. All this for the sake of delayed gratification; however, we're failing to realise that pleasure and fulfilment deferred is often pleasure and fulfilment forgone. As a directing debut, this piece questions whether the enjoyment of life is a skill to be developed in the present rather than an effortless state of existence mysteriously handed to us in the future.

Why include *Be Here Now* in the line-up?

Firstly, Be Here Now is the first short-form project of its kind to fully utilise innovative digital tools like Notion to pioneer a unique collaborative process. The workspace created is fully accessible to everyone - you can find a link to it here ( and see it for yourself! Leveraging this software created a one-of-its-kind collaborative process, giving the cast and crew unprecedented access to the creative team's ideation process and allowing all team members to provide detailed notes, feedback, and suggestions of their own throughout the production process. Considering film is an inherently cooperative medium, this project is a trailblazer when it comes to adopting innovative tools to elevate the creative process.

Secondly, the film not only tackles pandemic-related themes, it was shot during London's 2020 lockdown and was one of the few low-budget indie shorts to take into account the British Film Commission's Production Guidance for COVID-19. These stringent guidelines and limited resources are reflected in the project's DNA - for example, the entire film's sound design was entirely crafted in post-production as the limits on in-person gatherings required the team to work around the absence of a sound recordist on set!

Thirdly, the film is spearheaded by a female-first team. Simona Pranulytė (Director of Photography / Blackmagic URSA Mini Pro) was crucial when it came to crafting the visual aesthetic of the project; she flawlessly captures the nostalgic yet uncomfortably claustrophobic confinement experienced by the film's protagonist. Katie Byford (Assistant Director) ensured the production adhered to COVID-19 guidelines while keeping production on schedule. Thanks to her, the entire film was shot just shy of 12 hours in a single day of production. Elizabeth Hollis (Art Director) single-handedly transformed an empty London Fields' artist studio into the melancholic one-bedroom apartment seen in the film.

Finally, Be Here Now explores the apathy smothering young corporate workers in urban centres worldwide. Particularly following the mandatory home office policies required throughout the pandemic, unprecedented numbers of middle-class workers are refusing to continue delaying gratification in service of an outdated "golden years of retirement" model of life design; a model that is becoming increasingly unachievable for younger generations with continually rising real estate prices and longer working hours. This work/life revolution needs more screen time to foster conversations around alternative, sustainable models of living beyond the conventional office-based "9-5" (e.g. digital nomads, solopreneurs, and bootstrapped businesses).