2025: The Long Hot Winter, a short film featuring Brian Eno, shows a climate affected Christmas
We speak to writer and director Jake Lancaster, and producer Alastair Hope-Morley, about their film depicting the first Christmas heatwave, and how it subsequently got adopted by campaign group Extinction Rebellion.
- 17 December 2019
- Charlie Filmer-Court
For those dreaming of a white Christmas, 2025: The Long Hot Winter, is not something that will fill you with hope for the festive season. This satirical short, made by London-based writer and director Jake Lancaster, follows a reporter interviewing people across London during the first Christmas heatwave. Although a fictional comedy, the film is a reminder of the dangers that our planet currently faces.
“It was one of those ideas that came about very suddenly,” explains Jake. “If you remember back in February this year there was a bizarre heatwave – it was winter but really balmy. Trees were blossoming out of season. I found it terrifying, blackly funny and immediately imagined what it would have been like if it had been hot a few months earlier at Christmas.”
Filled with scenes of turkey on the barbecue, Christmas picnics and water fights in the street, the film definitely creates the desired juxtaposing effect of a sweltering December.
Aside from being humorous, Jake hopes that warmth and humanity come across in the film too. “I started sketching out the groups of people who I felt represented a nice cross section of London,” he tells It’s Nice That. “I didn’t want to voice the groups for themselves in a formal script, but wanted it to feel organic like an actual documentary.” This was something he eventually achieved by giving limited lines to the cast, relying on improvisation once they were in character.
Among others, Jake cites Martin Parr as one of his influences for the project, and when seeing this cross section of British society continuing their Christmas traditions in the heat, it becomes quite apparent. This authenticity was achieved, at least in part, by casting a number of non-actors, many of whom were found during visits to care homes and youth clubs.
One of the star-turns was also provided by a non-actor, albeit a slightly more famous one – musician Brian Eno. “I came across an NTS mix Brian Eno made for Extinction Rebellion. As a massive fan of Eno, I was familiar with his politics but this mix was a clear signal that he was behind the climate movement,” says the producer of the film and founder of Root Around Pictures, Alastair Hope-Morley. “Thinking he’d be perfect to play a softly spoken BBC radio presenter, we managed to get the script to him and amazingly he liked the idea so much that we got his recordings back within 24 hours!”
Not everything was as straightforward during filming though, not least the fact that they were relying on there being hot days in an English summer. “In classic British style, the weather messed with us and ended up being overcast for quite a bit,” says Jake, who is originally from Manchester. “In the end, this worked for the film as it gives the heat a more unnatural ‘white hot’ look – hopefully!”
Alastair also recalls another novel problem they had to overcome during filming: “Finding Christmas trees in August was difficult. We discovered that advertising companies make Christmas ads during summer, and found an amazing plant supplier near Slough that was happy to give us a van load of second-hand trees for free!”
After completing the film, it was obvious that the message was a very topical one. “Jake’s film has a lot of soul so I wanted to link that to Extinction Rebellion’s (XR) movement,” says Alastair. “We shared the finished film with their media and messaging team who loved it, and decided to release it as part of their general election campaign.”
The film also went on to recently win at the Earl’s Court Film Festival, and plans are in place to develop it into a longer concept when the team are not consumed by other projects. Alastair is currently working on promoting another short, whilst Jake plans again to turn the camera on England, in what sounds like another Martin Parr-esque film. "Im in early pre-production on an experimental feature length documentary that will be made travelling around rural England in the spring/summer of 2020,” he says. “Which after last week’s vote should be really interesting!”
GalleryJake Lancaster: 2025 The Long Hot Winter
About the Author
Charlie joined It’s Nice That as an editorial assistant in December 2019. He has previously worked at Monocle 24, and The Times following an MA in International Journalism at City University. If you have any ideas for stories and work to be featured then get in touch.