Murder and intrigue meets leopard print and early noughties nostalgia in Chris Baker’s unashamedly camp feature film debut, The Estate. With lavish locations bathed in bright neons, the film dials up the drama with ostentatious aesthetics and refreshingly witty writing as we are swept up in plights of stepmother/stepson duo, George and Lux, who attempt to remain in the legions of the super rich.
As both writer and star, Chris Baker is responsible for pulling the strings on and off camera working alongside director James Kapner on their first movie together, and both are extremely grateful to the film’s distributor, Vertical Entertainment, for giving them the opportunity to make The Estate happen. Baker joins Man About Town (along with puppy, Richie) to discuss the trials and tribulations of writing 2021’s sexiest, most outrageous comedy thriller.
Congratulations on the film, it must’ve been quite a hectic year for you.
It’s been great, I got married on Saturday! It was a really magical, wonderful weekend. Both the wedding and the movie have both been postponed for so long so now we’re just ecstatic it’s all coming together.
What was the inspiration behind The Estate?
Growing up, the movies that I loved were about real people in extraordinary situations, no CGI, no superheroes, it was all about murder or intrigue. Nineties and early 2000s films like Cruel Intentions and Charlie’s Angels were so formative for me. I love the isolated, close-ended narrative of a 90-minute film, it takes you on a ride and makes you escape for a little while so that’s where the impetus came from. This was my first script and film role and I’ve just been figuring it out as we go.
You really jumped in at the deep end. How was the writing process?
I imagine it’s what people say it's like to be on a drug binge. When it’s going really well, you’re so hyped and excited and when it’s gone your skin is grey and your wrinkles have deepened and you feel terrible about yourself. It is very emotional. I knew what I wanted the ending to be so it was about setting that up at the beginning while having the adventure be really entertaining and valuable.
You can really feel the influence of the early 2000s. How did you create the campy, saturated aesthetic?
Digital cinema is often so dark, literally. We wanted the kind of colour you get shooting on film but we couldn’t afford that so we did our best with the costumes and lighting to really saturate everything. Everything Cocoa Rigal, our costume designer, brought me was leopard and neon and silk. We wanted to show the world that these people desperately want to be a part of and their emotionally-heightened state and the colour brought that to life....
Chris Baker wears Etro on the cover of Man About Town's AW21 issue, available to order now.