Cashback (film)

Cashback (film)

Infobox Film
name = Cashback

caption = The poster from the original short film
writer = Sean Ellis
starring = Sean Biggerstaff Emilia Fox Shaun Evans
Michelle Ryan Stuart Goodwin
director = Sean Ellis
editing = Carlos Domeque
Scott Thomas
producer = Lene Bausager
Sean Ellis
distributor = Gaumont
released = 2007
runtime = 102 min.
country = UK
language = English / Spanish
budget =
music = Guy Farley
cinematography = Angus Hudson (Cinematographer)
awards = Bermuda International Film Festival (Jury Prize), one other
preceded_by =
followed_by =
amg_id = 1:352641
imdb_id = 0460740
website =|

"Cashback" is the name of two films directed by Sean Ellis: a 2004 short film and a 2006 feature film. Both were produced by Lene Bausager, starring Sean Biggerstaff, Michelle Ryan and Emilia Fox. The feature was released by Gaumont in late 2006. [ [ Gaumont Films: "Cashback"] ] Left Turn Films produced both films.


2006 feature film

After a painful break up with his first girlfriend Suzy, Ben, an aspiring artist, develops insomnia. To take his mind off his problem he spends his nights working at a local supermarket, where he meets colorful characters. He falls in love with his colleague Sharon.

He lets his imagination run wild. In particular, he imagines that he can stop time for others, so that he can walk around in a world that is "frozen" like in pause mode of a film. He imagines female patrons standing frozen in the supermarket, so that he can undress and draw them.

We see in flashback, with Ben's voice-over explaining how he always has been impressed by the beauty of the female body, how he, as a young boy, could see a Swedish boarder naked while she was going to and coming from the shower (we are told that, being Swedish, she did not believe this situation required modesty). Also we see little Ben's friend Sean Higgins showing Ben his parents' adult magazines.

Sharon is Ben's date when they go to the birthday party of their boss. Ben meets Suzy who wants to continue their relationship. Ben refuses, but Sharon gets a negative impression seeing Ben with Suzy for a moment, and gets angry.

As a practical joke colleagues Barry and Matt phone him, one of them pretending to be an art gallery owner who is interested in his drawings, and an appointment is made. It turns out well: the gallery owner, seeing Ben's work, is interested, and an exhibition follows. Sharon also visits it and is impressed not only by Ben's success, but also by the many paintings portraying her; ceasing to be angry with him.

2004 short film

The feature film incorporates virtually the entire short film which focused on the fantasy elements seen in the feature. This includes the sequence in the supermarket where Ben imagines he has frozen patrons at the store, walks around them and draws them. The short film also introduces many of the key characters from the feature film.


The feature film was produced more than a year after the short was completed. Following to a decision in December 2005 to proceed with the feature, Ellis completed the expanded script in just seven days. After getting committments from his cast in March he secured financing and the film went into production in May. This schedule was exceedingly condensed by modern film making standards. [Interview with Sean Ellis appearing on DVD version of "Cashback"] As all of the key players were available to appear in the feature, it was possible to incorporate the original short virtually without change.

The short film includes some original music, including a theme written by Rick Astley, but much of the incidental music consists of established classical pieces, including Beethoven's "Für Elise". The feature film uses an original score composed by Guy Farley including one piece, "Frozen" which featured on the Classic FM album, "The Quiet Room" in July 2006. [Cite web
title=The Quiet Room 'Contemporary Classic Calm'
publisher=Classic FM


The short film and won 14 awards at international film festivals and was nominated for the 2006 Academy Award for Live Action Short Film. [ [ Nominees and Winners | 78th Annual Academy Awards | Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences ] ] After the nomination, it was a popular download from iTunes (US). [BBC, [ "Bookmakers slash Crash Oscar odds"] , March 3, 2006]

The feature had its North American premiere on September 10, 2006, at the Toronto International Film Festival. It was subsequently screened at a number of other international festivals. The film got a limited theatrical release in the US on 17th July 2007 and in the UK May 2008.

Though it won two international awards, the feature film received mixed reviews from the critics, garnering a 45% ("Rotten") rating on Rotten Tomatoes, which concluded that the film is "full of unlikable characters, messy editing, and gratuitous nudity". [ [ Cashback Movie Reviews, Pictures - Rotten Tomatoes ] ] In contrast, Justin Chang of "Variety" described it as "slickly charming, genteelly erotic and directed with supreme polish". [ [ Cashback Review - Read Variety's Analysis Of The Movie Cashback ] ] Justice Henderson, in assessing the concept of the film, called it "arthouse reverie"


The DVD for the European region was released in September 2007. The UK DVD release is scheduled for September 2008.

Accusation of copyright infringement

Between 2001 and 2004, Elizabeth Obisanya was working on her own screenplay, originally titled "Cashback, Paper or Plastic", later changed to simply "Cashback". Obisanya's screenplay was also a romantic comedy and had a similar setting. Obisanya sued Sean Ellis and his production company for infringing her copyright, seeking £16 million in damages. The claim was struck out on the basis that, given the chronology of events, Obisanya could not reasonably establish that there was any possibility that the defendants had gained access to her screenplay and that any similarities could be explained by the sharing of a commonplace setting. Also, Obisanya was restrained from making any similar allegations in the future and ordered to pay £10,000 in costs. [Cite web
title=Cashback claimant struck out
date=June 2008
] [Cite web
title=I want £16m 'Cashback'
litigants=Elizabeth Obisanya v Sean Ellis and Cashback Films Ltd
] Obisanya has said that she intends to appeal the judgment. [Cite web
title=BEXLEY: Writer will appeal copyright ruling
publisher=This is Local London

Cast and characters

*Sean Biggerstaff as Ben Willis, an art student
*Emilia Fox as Sharon Pintey, Ben's colleague and eventual girlfriend
*Shaun Evans as Sean Higgins, Ben's friend
*Michelle Ryan as Suzy, Ben's ex-girlfriend
*Stuart Goodwin as Jenkins, his boss
*Michael Dixon as Barry Brickman
*Michael Lambourne as Matt Stephens
*Marc Pickering as Brian
*Keeley Hazell as Naked Girl

Awards (for the short)

* Best European Short Film Festival (Grand Prix)
* Chicago International Film Festival (Gold Hugo)
* Leuven International Short Film Festival (Audience Award)
* Lille International Short Film Festival (First Prize)
* Tribeca Film Festival (Best Narrative Short)
* FIKE 2005 - Évora International Short Film Festival (Audience Award)

Awards (for the feature)

* Bermuda International Film Festival (Won Jury Prize)
* San Sebastian International Film Festival (Won C.I.C.A.E Award)


External links

* [ Official site of the film]
* [,,2279360,00.html Observer review of feature length film]
* [ British Films Catalogue listing]

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