The ongoing phenomenon of ASMR continues in this new film by John Bentham where the simple act of eating becomes a strangely intimate and compelling multi-sensory experience.
“Watching and listening to people, eating food alone, without human interaction, any conversation or distractions conjures in us many emotions and reveals the many layers behind our responses and physical sensations,” the London filmmaker tells Creative Boom.
Entitled Eating, the film was inspired by John’s own personal slight “unease” around watching people or hearing people eat food in public and the current craze of home-made ASMR films watched by millions of subscribers online. “It’s a funny thing. We see people eat all the time but we don’t really watch them, that somehow seems uncomfortable in itself. I’m sometimes just a bit squeamish about certain things. Yoghurt is something I don’t really enjoy seeing being eaten. It’s something about the texture of it I don’t like. It has the nails on the chalkboard effect for me. It’s not a phobia, just a little thing. But how an act like eating can be conformable and uncomfortable to watch at the same time arouses my curiosity.”
With that in mind, was it uncomfortable to film? “It wasn’t uncomfortable at all. I had thought about how to go about it beforehand quite a lot. It was important that the performers weren’t performing. So they all knew nothing other than they would be eating noodles. Perhaps the only thing that was uncomfortable was not to know what would happen as each actor has one take and one take only.”
Were there any funny moments he can share? “It was nuts! It was a weekend and was shot in one day. I also had my kids with me too, which was ‘hilarious’ to say the least, and it’s probably only thanks to the Food Stylist Lucy Ruth’s Nintendo Switch and the crew’s very good humour that the shoot went so well.”
The film is certainly hypnotic and it’s fascinating how a simple act can become so interesting to watch. “It’s very intimate, too,” adds John. “There was no crew in the studio during each actor’s performance. The camera was operated remotely from another room. I gave very little instruction beyond the very essential and had no idea what to really expect. It was when I finally had a chance to review the rushes at home that I realised I had made something as intimate as this. I’m really happy with the way it all came together.”