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

A young production assistant named, Sam sits at the back of cube van in the parking of a studio where a high budget commercial for mayonnaise is being shot. Repulsed by his co-workers and routinely subjugated by his condescending manager, Sam drags his heels through his working day. After wrap, Sam is tasked with driving home the very young producer of the commercial, Sarah. Fed up with his menial job, Sam bluntly asks the aloof and austere Sarah to explain how she found success so early in the world of film production. Sarah agrees to tell Sam, but only in exchange for something: to see where he lives. Perplexed, Sam complies. Upon entering Sam’s derelict apartment, Sarah immediately switches from being sarcastic and stony to ravenous, as she begins to gain some sort of sexual gratification from unkept and messy areas of the apartment. This leads to a sexual encounter in which a fully-clothed Sarah mounts Sam on his bed. After Sarah finishes, the two lay in bed together and Sarah tells Sam about her road to success in the form of a story. The story is about a little girl that manages to be the lone survivor of the apocalypse, whose only solace is the moon and stars. The girl grows up to realize both the moon and stars are just illusions masking a much darker and disgusting truth. Sarah finishes her story and Sam remains perplexed.

Credits / Collaborators / Cast

Jack Hirschfield
Veronika Slowikowska
Abbas Wahab
Hunter Collins
Hanif Jetha
Jackson Rowe
Allie Pearse
Andrew Merrigan

Written & Directed by Eli Speigel
Executive Producer: Sean Buckley
Producers: Joshua Rosen, Dan Feldman Green, Zack Khan
DoP: Brad Cherry
Score: Danielle Racine
AD: Dila Dokuzoglu
Co-ordinators: Larysa Onyskiw, Patricio Lara
Camera Assistant: Mark Corless
Gaffer: Adam Wicklam
Key Grip: Mateo Zambrano
Swing: Dorothy Wicklam
Sound Recordist: Chris Dowbiggin
Makeup Artist: Kathy Nguyen
Set Decorater: Danielle Racine
PA: Lynda Balaniuk, Sacha Kingston-Wayne

Editor: Eli Speigel
Sound Editor & Re-recording Engineer: Deanna Marano
Colourist: Jason Zukowski at REDLAB
Colour Executive Producer: Cynthia Verona
Colour Producer: Madison Paquin

Credits Music: “Grouse” by Hobby

The story behind the film

Director’s Statement: 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.


Genre: Comedy
Country: Canada
Language: English
Length in minutes: 17
YEAR: 2022