Award of Merit – “Tea at 3:33” (USA)

Title: Tea at 3:33
Runtime: 5 min
Country: USA  
Director: Julen Santiago
Placement: Award of Merit
Competition: December, 2018

Synopsis: One nice house in the suburbs. Two men in the middle of the night. The first one has a job to do, the other one has a final wish. One of them will die tonight.


OR: What was the inspiration for your film?

JS: The first thing that comes to mind is Roald Dahl’s “Tales of the Unexpected”. It always amazed me the way Dahl was able to create such variety of interesting twist endings for the tales on this book. 

I really wanted to dig deep on how to get an ending like those to work. Eventually I realized that there was some structure to it: present a conflict between two characters and have the resolution come from a third element that was always there, only invisible to the one of the characters.

That being said I didn’t want to create a twist ending just for the sake of it. I also wanted to create a very tense and entertaining conversation between two old friends. Present a relationship and a group of events that had already started before the beginning of the short.

OR: When did you conceive the idea for your film and how long did it take before it was realized?

JS: November 2017 and it took around 4 months before we started production

OR: What was the most challenging aspect of working in a short film format?

JS: Short Films present relationships and events that have already started before the beginning of the short and will end beyond the ending of the film. The challenging part for me is convincing the audience of this.

OR: What was the most challenging aspect of your production?

JS: We shot it in Connecticut during one of the worst snow storms of the last years. Having lights outside the house was scary. We set a tent covering the lights, but in one hand we feared that the heat of the lights could melt the tent, and in the other hand we feared that the snow could melt into water and screw the electrics of the lights.

OR: Do you have any advice for first-time filmmakers?

JS: Keep doing it.