Film graduates' success reaches boiling point

Actor Stephen Graham on set

Film was co-written by a Portsmouth graduate

  • 18 October 2021
  • 3 min read

Graduates of the University of Portsmouth film studies and film production courses have helped bring a fast and furious one-take film starring Stephen Graham to the big screen.

Boiling Point is a feature-length version of the 2019 short film, also starring Graham as a head chef, which was nominated for Best British Short at the British Independent Film Awards.

The feature-length film premiered in the UK at the London Film Festival this weekend and will go on limited cinema release on December 3.

We were incredibly proud of the result

James Cummings, Co-writer, Boiling Point

Both the short and feature-length versions, written and directed by Philip Barantini, were co-written by 2017 University of Portsmouth film studies graduate James Cummings.

His Portsmouth classmates Matthew Lewis and Alex Fountain were director of photography and editor respectively.

James said he had been slowly building his career in the film industry as a screenwriter, after meeting Philip Barantini on the set of another student film project.

James said: “In my third year at university, I worked with a Film and TV Production course group on their final year project’s script and flew out to Bulgaria to film with them. There, I met Philip Barantini, an actor at the time, who took me under his wing as he transitioned into directing.

“In 2018, we wrote Boiling Point, a one-shot short film set in a high-pressure restaurant kitchen, and filmed it a few months later in Manchester.

“Amazingly, Stephen Graham came on board in the lead role, and we were incredibly proud of the result.”

Actor Stephen Graham on set

If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen: Stephen Graham in Boiling Point. PHOTO: Christian Black

The short film was nominated for Best British Short at the British Independent Film Awards.

James said: “It was huge! Though we didn’t win, we have won in other festivals, including Lift-Off’s Global Network’s best directing and cinematography season awards.”

In 2019, James and Philip developed the short film into a feature-length screenplay.

He said: “It was going to be even more ambitious than the first, but, with the short film as a proof-of-concept, our producers were able to get the ball rolling. Just six months later, work started on the feature-length film.

Working with Stephen Graham was an honour and a great pleasure. I feel incredibly lucky to have been a part of this project so early on in my career.

James Cummings, Boiling Point co-writer

“Filming the feature length version – all 90 minutes of it – was an incredible challenge, and a huge step up from the short film. And that's before factoring in the pandemic; we were one of the last productions in the UK still filming in March 2020, and needed to cut our filming schedule in half to get it done before the first lockdown hit. But we made it!

“Working with Stephen Graham was an honour and a great pleasure, and his performance has quite rightly been highlighted by the first drops of feedback we've seen from our premieres in Karlovy Vary, Zurich, and at the London Film Festival just this weekend. I feel incredibly lucky to have been a part of this project so early on in my career.”

The film is produced by Ascendant Films and Three Little Birds, alongside Graham’s new production company, Matriarch.

Ben Thompson, head of the university’s film and media courses, said he was delighted graduates of the course were doing so well in their careers, and that it was “great to see both Film Studies and Film Production graduates making their mark in the industry”.

James won the University’s No.6 Cinema Prize for Film when he graduated.

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