Too hot to handle

Too hot to handle

February 8, 2023


As production begins on BBC series Boiling Point, the team behind the five-part restaurant-set drama discuss developing the feature film spin-off and reveal why, unlike the original, it won’t be shot in one take.

Award-winning 2021 feature film Boiling Point, set on the busiest night of the year at one of the hottest restaurants in London, turned up the heat on its cast and crew by being shot in a single take.

Philip Barantini

Itself based on a short of the same name, the film follows charismatic head chef Andy Jones (Stephen Graham) tackles multiple personal and professional crises that threaten to destroy everything he has worked for.

Filming has now started in Manchester on a five-part TV spin-off, also with the same name, which is coming to BBC One and iPlayer. Produced by Ascendant Fox and Matriarch Productions, with Made Up Productions, the series picks up six months after the film and centres on sous chef Carly (Vinette Robinson) at her own restaurant, with many of Andy’s original team alongside her. But as the pressure mounts, she begins to feel the pressure of running her own place.

Vinette reprises her role from the film alongside Graham and Hannah Walters (Emily). They are joined by Ray Pantaki (Freeman), Gary Lamont (Dean), Áine Rose Daly (Robyn), Taz Skylar (Billy), Daniel Larkai (Jake) Stephen McMillan (Jamie), Hannah Traylen (Holly) and Izuka Hoyle (Camille).

New cast members include Stephen Odubola (Johnny), Shaun Fagan (Bolton), Joel MacCormack (Liam) and Ahmed Malek (Musa). Cathy Tyson also appears as Carly’s mum Vivian, while newcomer Missy Haysom plays Kit.

Bart Ruspoli

The series comes from the film’s co-writer and director Philip Barantini, who directs three episodes, and co-writer James Cummings. The film’s producers, Hester Ruoff and Bart Ruspoli, are executive producers with Walters and Graham. Mounia Akl also directs two episodes.

Speaking at Content London last year, Barantini, Ruoff and Ruspoli took to the stage to preview the series and discuss how Boiling Point has evolved from short film to feature, and now a series.

Set in the wake of events in the film, the Boiling Point series will introduce new characters in a new environment.
Philip Barantini: It’s a brand new space, a new restaurant, and each episode loosely follows a different character. It will have elements of one-takes, but I’m not doing the whole series in one take. That would be stupid. Stephen Graham will be in the series but he’s not the lead, he’s not the focus. That’s partly down to his availability but mostly down to the fact he didn’t want the focus on him. He’s such a generous human being, he wanted to put the focus on other actors and let them have their moment to shine. Vinette Robinson, who played Carly, is the central character in the series, so she’s now in her own restaurant. She’s the head chef and it follows the trials and tribulations of that world.

Hester Ruoff

Barantini was an actor for 20 years before he started working in a restaurant kitchen – a path that led him to become a head chef.
Barantini: The whole time I was doing it, I was seeing my mates doing well as actors and I was quite bitter about it at times. I’d always wanted to direct; it was something I wanted to do for years and never had the confidence in myself. Then my mum passed away quite suddenly seven years ago and it just changed my perspective on life and I thought, ‘Sod it, I’m going to give it a go,’ and made a short film. It did all right in festivals and then I decided that’s what I wanted to do, to pursue a career as a director. I wanted to get an agent, so I come up with the idea for Boiling Point, the short, and all the things I’d gone through in my life, and we decided to do the short in one take.

Never in a million years had I thought we would be doing a TV series – that was never the end goal. It was just to make something and see how we got on. I got an agent on the back of that, and Stephen is a good friend of mine and Bart’s as actors years ago. From the success of the short [released in 2019], people were saying, ‘Are you going to turn this into a feature?’ We had a proof of concept so we were like, ‘Let’s just write the feature.’ Myself and James Cummings, the co-writer, wrote the feature. We decided to do it in one take simply because I wanted to throw the audience into that world and almost have an immersive experience.

The TV adaptation of the Boiling Point film puts the emphasis on different characters

After making the short film, the feature went through numerous iterations as the team considered a number of different ideas.
Bart Ruspoli: We had no idea how to do the feature. Initially we were going to reshoot [the short] and make it the opening of the film, and then at one point it was set on an oil rig. The feature went through many different ideas, then eventually we settled on remaking [the short] with a one-take shot because it brought that intensity to the short film.

The one-take is a gimmick unless there’s some substance underneath it. We’re very proud of the fact there are no hidden cuts in the short or the feature. In the TV series, that’s not going to be possible. You’d limit yourself too much. We are going to use many one-takes of varying lengths, but that’s an organic process – it was an organic process finding how they worked in the short and the feature, and that’s what it will be in the TV series as well. The longest one will be the opening episode.

Stephen Graham reprises his role as chef Andy Jones

The feature was only committed to film after many rehearsals, but the Covid pandemic left their shooting schedule in tatters.
Hester Ruoff: Bart and I would be sat working in the restaurant while watching Phil with James and Matt Lewis, our DOP, and the script supervisor with an iPhone going round and working it out. It’s like a big choreographed dance – they rehearsed each individual scene separately and then built the whole thing up. But we actually only had the whole cast for four-and-a-half days of rehearsal. Then we had a weekend and came back, and we were due to shoot it eight times over four nights. But every day, Bart would come up to me and say, ‘They’ve just stopped more than 200 people meeting in the same room’ – Covid was upon us and we had no idea. It was insane. We ended up doing two days before we had to shut the whole thing down. We didn’t tell the cast, only Stephen and Hannah knew.

Barantini: We were meant to do eight films, essentially, and we did four in the end. We used the third one.

Ruoff: We only had two in the end to choose from. The third one had much better performances, it was really spontaneous, even though the second one was better technically. They hit all the marks technically and nothing went wrong. When we watch [the film] back, I know the moments where something went wrong but they just had to keep going and that’s the beauty of it. Stephen Graham is just phenomenal.

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