A disgruntled film production assistant seeks advice from a young, eccentric producer with sadistic tendencies.

Director’s Vision for ‘Mayonnaise’

Mayonnaise is a short film that considers meaning, fairness, and success against a reality where absurdity and vacuity rule. I wrote and directed this film to reflect on my own experiences working as a freelance film production assistant on commercial sets. In this film (as well as past films of mine), I portray my memories as reality, rather than attempting to portray reality as reality. That is, my experiences are not portrayed as they actually occurred, but rather through the distorted and exaggerated lens of memory. The film’s action is a product of piecing together a story through remembering the past; it therefore merely resembles reality, rather than re-recreates it. The film’s diegetic world feels less like that of waking life, and is instead subjected to the distortion of daydreams, intrusive thoughts, and the inaccuracy inherent to retelling an experience.

The film centres on Sam, a disgruntled film production assistant whose experience in the film industry (like my own) mainly consists of humiliation, doubt, and subjugation from his superiors. Sam believes there is something preventing him from success in his career, that there is an answer for his shortcomings he has not yet found. He embodies the daunting feeling of considering a career trajectory in one’s early to mid twenties. Sam is deeply envious of Sarah, the young yet accomplished producer of the mayonnaise commercial he’s currently working on, whom he perceives to have acute knowledge of success in film/TV. Sarah becomes aware of Sam’s envy, which ignites a dormant proclivity for sadomasochism within her. She exercises her power over Sam as a work superior, as a gatekeeper of industry success, and as a potential sexual partner. While such a person did not exist in my life, Sarah was embodied and represented by several others to varying degrees. The absurd dynamic that arises out of Sarah and Sam’s dominant-submissive symbiosis is unique in this film as it is set in the behind-the-scenes world of the production of an advertisement for something as pithless as mayonnaise. I chose mayonnaise to be the subject of the advertisement as it is a reference to an inside joke among production assistants in Toronto. Whenever a passerby would ask what a given shoot was for, the stock-reply was simply, “a mayonnaise commercial.” The origin of the joke is (to my knowledge) unknown.

Sam’s pursuit of an explanation and answer to his life’s problems are only met with more uncertainty, and the film reveals that his values have been focused in the wrong places. The process of making this film has transported me back to a certain era of my life. Creating Sarah’s character was done to show myself that there is no quick fix to life’s drudgery, and that the first step towards understanding life is admitting that you don’t understand. In not understanding, there is confusion; in confusion, there is absurdity; in absurdity, there is humour; and, in humour, there is solace. To laugh at the absurdity of life’s plight is to exercise control over it. And through the dark, strange, and at times uncomfortable film, Mayonnaise, we may actually be comforted by Sam’s pain.