Gaumont gets ‘Cashback’

Original short film nominated for an Oscar

Gaumont looks set to get its money’s worth out of “Cashback.”

Gallic major took worldwide rights to the edgy Brit feature-length comedy helmed by Sean Ellis, and also pacted to finance the first-time director’s next feature.

Then on Tuesday, the short film the movie was built around — also called “Cashback” — was nominated for an Oscar.

The 19-minute short, made in 2004 for £30,000 ($53,400), is set in a supermarket and centers on a bored night-shift employee who sketches clients, whom he imagines nude, to while away the time.

When it picked up some dozen prizes at fests including Tribeca and Chicago, Ellis, a former fashion photographer, and producing partner Lene Bausager thought there was more mileage in the story and set about turning it into a feature.

“We really liked the characters and decided to flesh them out and tell their stories,” Bausager said. The short film was edited only slightly and apparently fits seamlessly into the feature, made for $2.3 million by Ellis and Bausager’s shingle Left Turn Films.

“You can’t tell they were shot two years apart,” Bausager said.

Film is an unusual pickup for Gaumont, better known for big budget commercial fare.

Despite the buzz it is likely to attract because of the Oscar nom, Gaumont CEO Franck Chorot said the company isn’t screening pic at the upcoming European Film Market in Berlin but will show it at Cannes in May.

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