In the aftermath of his son (Archie's) death, the film explores a father (Argyle's) descent into an all-consuming and destructive obsession with the sun.
In a desperate attempt to revive the memory of his child, he fixates on the star, hypothesising it as an avenue to the past - and a way back to his son.
Following the death of his son, a father begins obsessive research on the sun - desperately searching for a way back. An avenue to the past.
In his homemade underground observatory, Argyle toils away the remaining years of his life, refining the machine that will help him conquer the sun. His only enemy is time. As the eclipse draws closer, his final chance to regain his son Archie looms overhead and his blind obsession takes its toll. Dragging him deeper and deeper into his self-made prison of grief.
At its centre, Helios is a film about a father and his son. Following Archie's death, the film explores the obsession within Argyle borne from this grief. He dedicates the remainder of his life to researching the sun, desperately searching the cosmos for an avenue to the past - a way back to Archie.
Grief and obsession are often both very isolating experiences for those living them. As such, my hope for this film is that by exploring these themes so closely and explicitly, audience members who have experienced such feelings or are currently experiencing them, feel less isolated and alien from those around them.
I also want to bridge the gap between two traditionally opposed fields - the arts and the sciences. With Argyle's journey of obsession mirroring the arc of the scientific method, the film inherently blends the two and, as such, highlights the romantic and dramatic potential of scientific endeavor and how closely it can relate to wider issues of the human condition.
Argyle's struggle is a fight against the sun. A battle of wits between a man and a God. Consequently, the task facing Argyle is a near-insurmountable one. This struggle against such a powerful force in the name of love for his son is incredibly affecting and moving, and therefore something I want to really highlight within the film. The incorrigible nature of the human spirit; its persistence even in the face of impossibility.
OUR CREATIVE APPROACH
Inspired by films such as Darren Aronofsky’s ‘Pi’ and Robert Wiene’s ‘The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari’ we too will take an expressionistic approach in our film, looking to emulate their creativity in our worldbuilding and storytelling.
As such, the film allows us as a crew a great opportunity to explore and test the limits of our creativity.
Because of our expressionistic approach, the film will be told entirely through Argyle’s perspective - with everything on screen reflecting and representing his state of mind; we see the world as he does.
For example, the film will be in black and white. With all light, colour, and significance being drained from Argyle’s life following Archie’s death, so too has it thus drained from our film.
To further represent this schism in Argyle’s life, we will differentiate how we film the past and present within the story world, with the former being primarily handheld and the latter primarily static. This is to reflect the intimacy of Argyle and Archie’s relationship when he was alive, and the staleness and coldness of the world that Argyle was left in following Archie’s death.
The production design is a huge and vital part of this film. With Argyle having spent years working on the machine he obsessively and blindly believes can bring him answers, it has almost taken elements of his personality and made them its own, with its machinations reflecting the inner workings of his mind. Argyle’s obsession becomes the machine’s ubiquity within the room and the claustrophobia it creates. His grief becoming its labored, complicated, impossible task.
The editing and sound design also follow this expressionistic approach; with the soundscape being built up to reflect Argyle’s emotions and thoughts within the relevant scene or sequence.
Similar to the camera work in the film, the editing style will also be distinct between the past and present, with the latter being in a far more montage-esque style with a much quicker, chaotic pace, and the latter being far slower, calmer, and more intimate.
Through this focus on expressionism across all departments, we aim to build a convincing and engaging world for the audience that simultaneously reflects the reality that Argyle perceives.
HOW WOULD YOUR DONATIONS HELP?
All of your donations are essential to helping this project to its feet. As 'Helios' is heavily reliant on Production Design, most of our budget is allocated toward creating Argyle's world. In addition to Production Design, there are many other elements that would need your support in order to help this story become a reality.
Here is the breakdown:
- Casting - Expenses towards our cast; i.e. food, travel, housing
- Art Dept - Set Building materials, props, costumes, hair & makeup
- Production - Expenses towards crew food, travel & housing + equipment transport
- Camera Dept - Equipment rental & lighting materials
- Location - Location bookings for sets
We are a crew of film students eager to explore a story with such fertile ground for conflict and emotion with each of us able to bring in personal experiences to richen and deepen the narrative. Through this short film, we want to explore our own personal connections with grief and obsession.
Zeph Smith - The Director
With the film centred wholly around Argyle, I'm very excited to work with an actor bringing him and his world to life, with the story and character providing such fertile ground for conflict and emotional depth. The idea of obsession and the total consumption of a person by a single goal and thought is something I personally connect with, having struggled against being consumed by a singular thought in the past. As such, to direct a film that tackles these themes has great personal significance for me and to be able to explore and examine these ideas creatively with such a talented team, each enriching the project tenfold with their own experiences and ideas, is a wonderful and exciting opportunity.
Sean Gavey - The Writer
People always want grief to make sense, searching for answers or reasons why. Why them? Why now? How could this happen? It is through these intangible questions and my own personal experiences with grief and being a caregiver that this story was born.
Zeph & I started theorizing this script a year ago, pouring many of our influences and struggles into the story, honing it, and getting to know each other in the process. I usually write comedies as I felt that life was real enough, but the whole process has been cathartic and moving for me. Being able to express my own struggles in life in such a poetic piece and expand on that with such a talented crew has helped me grow as a writer and as a person.
Carmella Ramos - The Producer
Having previously produced one documentary and two short films, this would be a beautiful third I would love to add to my list. 'Helios' gives me the opportunity to push myself as a Producer and motivates me to think outside the box not only logistically but also creatively. This is a project I truly believe in and I cannot wait to see it come to life.
Minnie Lertvalaikul - The Director of Photography
I’m Minnie and I’m working as the DoP for Helios. Helios caught my attention since its pitch. The story about an individual being driven being obsessed following the loss of a person close to them is something I deeply connected with. Additionally, black-and-white films have always piqued my interest for the way they use mise-en-scene to evoke specific feelings. I want to employ all of my creativity to make this work of art anyone could feel drawn to, as well as those lost in the abyss of the same emotion as Argyle. Apart from that, I’m very excited to work with this talented crew we have.
Jade Strong Danis - The Production Designer
In the midst of a gloomy London winter, I was very drawn to Helios' promise of blinding sunlight (even though I burn very easily). Although the production design of this film was slightly (immensely) daunting at first, I welcomed the challenge because I simply love the script and the people involved, which will make it that much more rewarding to create something we're all proud of.
Poppy Payne - The Sound Recordist & Designer
As a filmmaker who is naturally drawn to exploring and experimenting within the limitations of film, I can recognize the rich potential that 'Helios' holds for pushing the boundaries of cinematic sound design. As the film tackles the concepts of grief, sunlight and the profundity of the universe, I intend to combine a raw, naturalistic soundscape with expressionistic and poetic overtones to communicate the complexity and ambivalence of the narrative. With a story that prioritises a true expression of bereavement, complemented by the alternative stylistic choices of each film department, I have confidence that our film will result in a captivating and nuanced expression of loss, and may offer sympathy, if not solace, to the many viewers who will have also felt the effects of grief.
Kitty Fisher - The Editor
I'm super excited to be editing Helios, and to be working with such a great team! I'm thrilled to edit a story that will push my skills beyond any film that I've worked on before. I'm also no stranger to expressionism as seen in my previous works - 'Köksuz' and 'Silk'. I can't wait to get experimental with some montage!
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