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How To Tell When A Relationship Is Over

Written and directed by Tony Roche and produced by Jim Spencer, "How To Tell When A Relationship Is Over", last night deservedly won the Paramount Film First 2004 Comedy Shorts Competition. As a result it will be screened in front of a big name movie in UCI and City Screen cinemas around the UK later on in the year. Last year HTTWARIO was screened at the Montreal Just For Laughs Comedy Festival, Edinburgh Film Festival, Bristol Brief Encounters, Interfilm (Berlin) and Foyle Film Festival. It went on to win the "Best Short" category at the Montreal Just For Laughs International Comedy Festival.

The synopsis describes the film as telling the story of a couple splitting up in fifteen different ways but it is more accurate to describe it as per the title of the film – it isn’t a story, it is simply fifteen different ways to tell when a relationship is drawing to a close. Before the film was screened Tony joked that the inspiration for the film came from being constantly dumped by women. Well, a friend of his being dumped by women. A friend called Tony. Smith. Ahem. Roche.

The two main roles are played brilliantly by Julian Barratt and Susan Earl (with Grant Gillespie as the "gay" friend) and the action takes place solely in Tony Roche’s kitchen. With the cast and crew offering their services for free, the film cost a mere £40 to make, which includes the cost of replacing Tony’s cafetiere which was broken during the fight scene (and so causes a continuity error).

Here are those fifteen ways to tell when a relationship is over along with a description of the action and accompanying dialogue.

Starts with Julian and Susan laughing before cutting to the titles.

1. You try to make an effort

J: Hello
S: (Yells) Shut up!

2. You stop making an effort

Julian belches and farts solidly for about 30 seconds while Susan looks on in disgust.

3. You find the other person annoying

Susan growls at Julian despite him sitting there minding his own business.

4. You get a list of all your faults

S: I’ve made a list of all your faults
J: What a long list!
S:That’s the index. This is the list
J: I’ll get back to you on that.

5. You try to put the other person off

J : This is diffult but I’m… um...a cannibal. I’m allergic to women. I had sex with a dog once… twice actually.

6. You try to get the magic back

As Julian leans towards Susan for a kiss, she is sick on him.

7. You fight all the time

Julian and Susan start by throwing food at each other which rapidly degenerates into fencing via wrestling…

8. You start to work on a back up plan

J: Yeah I’d like to place a classified ad. Yeah, um Single man seeks woman. Can only meet Thursdays. Ring mobile, not home number. Oh (Susan walks into the kitchen) Ok Bye. David … (turns to Susan) Hi!

9. Someone else is mentioned repeatedly

J: I saw Natasha today. It’s always… (dreamily) its always great to see Natasha. I really like Natasha. We get on really well.
S: Who’s Natasha?
J: Uh.. she’s…er… you wouldn’t know her. She’s nice, very nice, nice girl.
S: Is she real?
J: Yeah very real. Too real.
(Susan slams something onto the table)
J: Natasha would never do that… (starts singing) Natasha Natasha… you’re the one you’re the one for me… (door slams) What?

10. You start getting personal

S: (on phone) Average bloke, average looks, average job, below average intelligence, seeks woman way out of league but will settle for less. Anything you wanna add?
J: No that’s fine.

11. Some things don’t seem to make sense

S: I’m gay
J: Well who’s he then? (pointing to man standing by the kitchen door)
S: He’s gay
(Susan and the "gay" man start snogging)
J: What are you doing
S: It’s a gay thing

12. It’s war

J: (on phone) Yeah I’d like to place a classified ad. Yeah Man seeks woman, any woman, not fussy. Yeah that’s it.

13. You find a dead pigeon

S: (looking at the pigeon) Definitely dead
J: That’s it then…

14. You feel like you’re in a french film

J: (in french – play on "Should I Stay Or Should I Go" by Free) Shoud she stay, should she go? Should she stay, should she go now? If she stays there will be trouble… If she goes there will be double…Go.

15. The other person isn’t there anymore

Cuts to Julian sitting alone at the kitchen table .

The end.

At the private industry screening at the Curzon it was rewarded with by far the most laughs from the audience and a rousing cheer when the credits started to roll. It was the most basic but perfectly executed idea and was wonderfully acted, shot and directed.

The result was announced by Alison Steadman (who starred in last year’s winning short film, DIY Hard) who said the judges had a very enjoyable time viewing the shorts. She described HTTARIO as "simple, clear, the most original, warm and funny and the one that made us most laugh out loud."