'I’ wakes with no memory in a crumbling, sealed room occupied by an unknown person – Wanda. He postures confidence and asserts dominance over the space, but as Wanda speaks, he becomes enraged and confused. If Wanda knows more, he can’t let it be.
‘I’ wakes with no memory in a crumbling, sealed room occupied by an unknown person – Wanda. He postures confidence and asserts dominance over the space, but as Wanda speaks, he becomes enraged and confused. If Wanda knows more, he can’t let it be.
A conceptual, psychedelic short which stacks reactionary entitlement against a mysterious, powerful force - exploring failing spirituality and ecological crises through abstract allegory.
Hi there! We are a group of young filmmakers that are passionate about independent British cinema and want to captivate audiences with mind-bending plots and visuals – in short, the types of projects that we want to see more of on the big screen. Below is a plan for a 7-minute dramatic short film that will be a fresh take on Modern British Psychedelia and explore climate crisis, male violence and fundamentally, the hope for change. We hope it will intrigue and excite you all as much as it did all of us!
Dust-coated, ‘I’ coughs himself awake to find that he’s in a walled-off room with Wanda. Mirror shards and vine-like wires cover the floor. Harsh industrial light pulses over the room from a navel-like hole in the roof. A mattress covers a fireplace which makes fleshy gurgling noises.
Wanda’s quick to treat ‘I’ as an old friend. ‘I’ plays along, but we sense a confusion that he’s trying to hide. Brushing the oddity off with the dust, he explores the room, trying to make sense of this situation while keeping the appearance of authority. Wanda’s calmness and apparent knowledge start to grate on ‘I’, and as he steps on a mirror shard, this irritation erupts. He hails abuse at Wanda and his surroundings.
Wanda continues to playfully push ‘I’ on how little he really knows about his place in this unknown world and their relationship. But ‘I’ will not let himself be undercut or belittled and he starts doing his all to force his authority over Wanda.
Does he truly know enough to get the upper hand here or will Wanda’s knowledge make a fool of him? And if ‘I’ can’t outwit Wanda, what might his weakness lead him to resort to?
Tone and Inspirations
Inspired by Celtic folktales and the Theatre of the Absurd, this short seeks to combine modernity with myth. Our team has been concocting a “witches’ brew” of Modern British Psychedelia. Filled with sprinkles of Derek Jarman, Nicolas Roeg and Ingmar Bergman along with a dash of Samuel Beckett. Think Persona and No Exit crossed with Under the Skin and Stalker!
Visually our short has found its touchstones in the harsh contrast of film noirs, the ritualistic atmosphere of Kenneth Anger, and the cool gaze of Michael Haneke.
Disorientation plays a central role in this film. ‘I’ is coming to in an amnesiac state, and as audience, we are pulled in with him to try to make sense of how this came to be. However, rather than through frenetic camerawork, we want to conjure disorientation more subtly through a grounded surrealism that stems from the story-world’s logic. This stylistic choice, used in conjunction with longer takes, allows the actors’ playful duelling of dialogue and action to take centre stage.
With the simple setting of two people within one room, the team are able to put all their efforts into creating something truly otherworldly. We’ll be grounded in this surreal reality with immersive sound design and overwhelmed with a sense of being lost in time thanks to costume and production design. This will be a world that is unique and entrancing.
Below is a mood reel that will transport you into the feel of the project!
Why this Story? / Writer/Director’s Statement
My driving inspiration to tell this story right now was to confront reactionary entitlement. With this type of entitlement being so often left unchallenged, it became an illuminating process to personify it and then have it come up against an antithesis in the form of an all-knowing unknown which it can’t quire reckon with. But while writing I found that this short spoke to far more themes than I initially anticipated. It dramatises and exorcises antagonisms that we all witness and limit us in many ways.
Fundamentally, this short will confront a state of stubbornness and unwillingness to change that plagues our world. And through its dialectic framework, I want to use the film to provoke the audience’s reflection on a potential synthesis. For us to think on what might connect these opposing forces and their counterparts in today’s world; to consider the types of figureheads that we have; and to reflect on the necessity of breaking destructive cycles.
I’ve loved developing this world and its characters. And hope you will find fascinating the tensions between repetition and change, failure and forgiveness, ego and collectivity, masculinity and femininity, order and creativity, industry and nature.
The verbal sparring between these two characters was my key to turning the conceptual into an engaging drama of wit. The dialogue has been constructed with miscommunication at its core. Yes, they respond and bounce off each other’s words, but there’s a pervasive sense that they don’t speak the same language. And this flexibility within the script allows the acting talent to play with subtext and further suck us into this world to unpick its puzzle.
I passionately believe in the ability of abstraction to infiltrate our subconscious barriers and provoke us to engage with ideas in new, illuminating ways. And discussing other’s thoughts can further expand our view. That’s why I want this campaign to have interactivity at its heart. Cinema is fed by community. This film will entrance you in the moment, but also remain with you as you engage with it through your own experiences. I can’t wait to talk with you all about conclusions you drew or reflections you had - be they spiritual, political, sexual, ecological etc. We create so we can share, and I would love for you to share in this process, be it as a viewer upon release or as one of our backers!
I/Wanda's Crew (and more exciting creatives soon to be announced)
Charlie Douglas-Hamilton Writer/Director
Charlie is an award-winning writer/director with passions for surrealism, political activism, psychedelia and movies (duh!). He has worked in many roles within the industry for over three years. He was recently a Director’s Assistant on Amazon’s My Policeman starring Harry Styles and Emma Corrin and now works as Development Coordinator at Independent Entertainment.
Claire Wolf Producer
Claire currently works as a TV researcher for the BBC and hopes she can contribute both her production experience and passion for indie filmmaking into the project. Her ambition is to eventually work in documentary filmmaking.
Ben Wicks 1st Assistant Director
Hailing from Reading, Ben grew up writing short scripts for his primary school friends to perform in the playground. His passion for film and TV has led him to be very successful in the AD department - having worked on the likes of The Boys in the Boat, The Witcher, Pistol, The Nevers, Fleabag and Gangs of London. He's also a talented writer/director himself with over 30 projects under his belt. Ben is a fantastic presence on set and knows how to keep everyone on track while having lots of fun!
Lukáš Bistřický Director of Photography
Lukáš has strong experience across commercial, narrative and music video work. His truly distinctive style has led him to be DOP for amazing clients such as Vogue. He is a NFTS Cinematography Graduate and did stunning work on the graduation short film, Virile.
Violette de Laet Production Designer
Violette is an NFTS Graduate who has an amazing ability to keep her creative flair front-and-centre while navigating practical limitations. She has worked on Ridley Scott's Kitbag (f.k.a. Napoleon), Life After Life and is currently on a Star Wars series. Violette also has a great working relationship with Lukáš and their collaboration on the NFTS short, Virile, is stunning.
Samantha Hobart Costume & Hair and Makeup Designer
Sam is a recent graduate of UAL Wimbledon College of Art’s Costume programme and has already began working across features, shorts and theatre. Sam can elevate period designs into modern, high-fashion pieces with fantastic personality. She is perfect to craft the timeless outfits which have become broken in with the personalities of our two cast members.
Jessica Shadwell Production Manager
Jess made the move to London to pursue her passion for filmmaking over 3 years ago and has accomplished some amazing things. She's worked with some of the world's biggest brands such as Nike, Mercedes and Sky Sports. Like any great Production Manager, Jess is slightly OCD, but this gives her a real eye for perfection and detail which is invaluable any short that is lucky enough to have her.
Jourdan Gayle Videographer & Runner
Jourdan has a wonderful photographic eye and has shot for top fashion brands as well as Snoh Aalegra. He is also currently working on Top Boy, and worked on Aquaman 2 and My Policeman - where he met Charlie.
Ariany Ribeiro Casting Director
Ariany has a background in acting across major stage productions and short films in Brazil and the UK. She currently works at Framestore where she is furthering her knowledge of the industry across large-scale productions. Her knowledge of the film world and her experience acting mean she is perfectly placed to find our ‘I’ and ‘Wanda’!
Karen Bengo is 'WANDA'
Wanda is an enigmatic, self-assured person who has an air of powerful mystery.
Karen is a fantastic actor who has an electric presence and a brilliant command of text. She has experience across film, theatre and television. She's performed at the Tristan Bates Theatre and the Southwark Playhouse, and also worked on Jupiter Ascending. She is perfect to play WANDA.
James Matthews is 'I'
‘I’ embodies the spirit of a wounded dog crossed with a narcissistic prince. Hard-headed but betrays an underlying insecurity.
James has brilliant control over tone and is able to convey real complexity. This is essential to portray I grasping for power and will come though thanks to James' skills with subtext. James has a great body of work across theatre, shorts and television - recently appearing in Bridgerton - and we're so excited to see what he brings to the role.
We are aiming to raise £8,000 for this project.
The budget covers production design, equipment hire and paying cast and crew.
This production believes in paying everyone who works on this project. Even though we are a low-budget project, it is important that young creatives in this industry know that their time is worth something.
To everyone who has read this far, thank you so much for checking out our crowdfunder. We are so excited to bring this short's world to life and any support that you are able to give is hugely appreciated. For those who are considering donating larger amounts, but would like to know more about the project beforehand, we can send you I/Wanda's script.