Robbie is in recovery from a debilitating illness and cannot trust his body to respond to him. But rebuilding a body isn’t just about rebuilding muscles: Robbie must learn to let himself fall, and fail, and face up to his weaknesses, in order to grow strong again.
Fall Better is a deeply personal short film based on writer-director George Magner’s recovery from a life-changing illness.
In the aftermath of a total loss of control, nothing feels familiar or safe anymore. Before you can rebuild your strength, you have to find the courage to be weak first.
But how do you reach beyond what your body— and mind— seem capable of?
Robbie is learning to walk again- one faltering, clumsy step at a time. But rebuilding a body from scratch isn't just about rebuilding muscles... Robbie has lost his muscle memories, and cannot trust his body to respond.
Andrew, his physiotherapist, guides and goads him- but Robbie isn't ready to hear to the hard truths Andrew has to give.
A few months on, late one night, Robbie tries to will himself to run again— but now there’s no one to help, and nothing to catch him if he falls.
In this make-or-break moment Robbie must finally confront the reality of his internalised trauma; and recognise the truth of the hard words Andrew spoke to him all those months ago.
In order to run, Robbie must learn to let himself fall: to risk failure and get back up again; to reach beyond what his mind and body seem capable of, to regain control of his life.
Guillain-Barré Syndrome changed my life. A fortnight before my 16th birthday, pins and needles started to run up my arms and legs. After that: numbness. A total loss of control, creeping across my entire body. The NHS saved my life— but the marks of my illness, physical and mental, have endured for years.
Recovery was the hardest and most important experience of my life. But the real battle, before, during, and long after the physical rehab process, took place in my head.
Though Robbie's illness is physical, his conflict is internal; he is in a battle with himself, fighting to control a body that has become unfamiliar to him. That is what I want this film to convey: and it’s a theme I believe will resonate with anyone who has struggled with recovery of any sort.
This is a story about resilience in the face of a total loss of control; about the way we see and understand differently-abled bodies; about masculinity and mental health, and the unseen, life-changing power of a mentor.
I want this film to feel like a held breath: like the world around you is liquid and you are not made to survive in it.
But this is all in your head— and as inevitable as that fateful, gasping breath, you must choose to kick to the surface.
Kick, though your legs burn and mind aches— push, though you cannot know where or how far there is to go— fight, because if you countenance defeat, you are already lost.
The surface is just the beginning— the first suck of air into a starved body. The shore is still a long way away.
But now that shore is yours to reach.
Guillain-Barré Syndrom & GAIN
We are delighted to be supported by GAIN, the charity for Guillain-Barré & Associated Inflammatory Neuropathies.
Guillain-Barré syndrome is a rare autoimmune condition affecting the peripheral nervous system. It causes the nerves in the arms and legs to become inflamed and stop working, usually leading to temporary paralysis.
About 80% of those with GBS will make a good recovery, but 5-10% of sufferers will not survive and the other 10-15% may experience long term residual effects ranging from limited mobility or dexterity, to life-long dependency on a wheelchair.
GAIN is the only national organisation in the UK and Republic of Ireland dedicated to helping people affected by these conditions. Their work includes:
• Helping people understand and manage GBS, CIDP and associated variant
• Promoting and facilitating both clinical and non-clinical research
• Raising awareness of the charity and conditions
Further information can be found at www.gaincharity.org.uk
Our projected budget for Fall better is £9020. We are looking to raise £3000 via crowdfunding.
- Crew fees: Our core crew fees are secured, and we are committed to paying them. This is not a guarantee in the world of short film! Your support will help ensure we can recruit the rest of our talented crew and pay them a fair fee.
- Shooting on Film: We are really excited about the creative possibilities of using 16mm film to tell this story; the more we can raise, the more of the project we can consider shooting on film.
- Festivals & Distribution: Films are nothing without their audiences. Your support will ensure we can submit FALL BETTER to the best selection of international film festivals, and help it find its audience.
- STRETCH GOAL: We would love to consider ways of taking FALL BETTER beyond an arthouse audience. We are exploring ways to support GAIN’s mission and we would love to be able to use the film as an outreach and awareness-raising tool.
George Magner - Writer/Director
George is a writer and filmmaker. His work has screened at festivals internationally including Underwire, Venice Fine Arts Film Festival, Budapest International Short Film Festival, and BFI FLARE. With experience across drama, documentary and commercials, his portfolio is unified by a fascination with people and their stories.
George is an Artistic Fellow of the 2021 I AM Festival of Creative Learning and MassMedia Mentor for Create Studios. He has been identified as a Neuro Changemaker by The Brain & Spine Foundation and looks forward to supporting their work in 2022.
Joshua Harry Brown - Producer
Joshua is a producer from London with experience across documentaries and journalism. He started his career in Sri Lanka, documenting the aftermath of the 30 year-civil war as both a field researcher and filmmaker.
Joshua brings leadership to every project and leads the creative process through excellent communication and organisational skills. He has worked with the BBC, Channel 4, Amnesty International, Inform, Delayed Gratification, and on numerous commercial campaigns with clients such as Renault, Under Armour and Addidas.
Jamie Harding- Director of Photography
Jamie Harding is a Cinematographer based in Bristol, raised in Exeter in a working class family. His family still don’t understand what he does and why he doesn’t shoot Strictly. He has shot for clients such as Adidas London, The Arts Council, Beats by Dre, Channel 4, Sony, and Red Bull.
Jamie LOVES celluloid. He believes real stories and traditions need to be captured and archived on a medium that is as tactile as the story itself. We want to harness the physicality and aesthetic tradition of film in our story, and Jamie is the man to do it.
Sophie Thomas - Art Director
Sophie is an Art Director, set and costume designer. Candid, curious and endlessly creative, perhaps Sophie’s greatest skill is rummaging around in a director’s head and turning their half-baked notions into tangible, beautiful, practical creations.
Since completing an Assistant Designer residency at the RSC, Sohpie’s work has taken her across film, theatre and TV, designing costumes for Simon Amstell’s CARNAGE (BBC) and designing BAFTA longlisted short film THE LISTENER. She recently finished designing HOME by David Storey at the Minerva Theatre, Chichester, where her work “boldly ignored” the writer’s intentions to critical acclaim [The Guardian].
Michalianna Theofanopoulou - Sound Designer
Sound design is integral to building the cinematic world we are trying to create, and we cannot wait to build it with Michalianna. A graduate of NFTS, Micha currently works as a freelance dialogue editor for Pinewood studios, as well as a sound editor and mixer for various independent productions.
Micha’s credits include projects that have appeared on Channel 4, Sky, Amazon Prime, Vice, Udemy, the Cannes Film Festival, the London Film Festival, the Grierson Awards, the Underwire Film Festival and the BFI Flare.
Alexandra Da Silva - Executive Producer
Since Alex & George’s last collaboration on THE COST OF BRONZE, Alex has well and truly emerged as a producer to watch. In 2020 she line-produced WOMAN OF VALOUR, winner of the Pears Short Film Fund, and collaborated with first-time director Nia Childs on THE OTHER END, which premiered at London Film Festival 2021.
A steady hand, organisational fanatic, and reliable font of advice, Alex is starting to build her sales and distribution slate as a Sales Coordinator at Protagonist Films.