'Liv' is a new short film from BAFTA nominated writer/director John Mark Fitzpatrick, producer Jonjo Lowe and executive producer Bingqiang Xu.
Photo credit: Un Village by Madeleine De Sinety
On an isolated farm a young girl is abandoned by her mother. She uses magical thinking to try and regain control of her world.
Welcome to our Greenlit Campaign for our short Film 'Liv'. This is a project that we’ve been developing for a couple of years.
It has complicated technical demands, not to mention working with children and animals, so we have taken our time to plan the production carefully.
It’s a story which is very important to all of us and we want to invite you to be part of the production. Crowdfunding is not just about raising production finance, it’s also about getting the word out, so even if you can’t back us with money we’d love you to share the link and tell people about the film.
Photo credit: Un Village by Madeleine De Sinety
Liv is eight years old and she knows something is wrong in her house. Her parents are fighting. There is chaos and conflict around her. And being a child she thinks it’s her problem to fix. She uses the only power she has, her imagination, to try and make sense of the world around her. She makes up rituals to calm the aggressive dog or win a toy from the cereal box.
Her mum, Charlene walks around in a zombie-like state, she’s trapped. Without warning, Charlene gets into her car and drives off, leaving Liv in distress.
Liv tries to figure out how to bring her mother back and along the way she realises that the dog, who she used to be afraid of, is actually just as vulnerable as her. But while inventing a new ritual to try and bring back her mother she seemingly vanishes the dog.
When her mother returns Liv witnesses just how vulnerable she has been. They escape her abusive father, fleeing into an unknown future. As they drive along the country road, Liv imagines her arm is a great blade slicing through the passing telegraph poles. The car drives off into the distance. The telegraph poles fall like dominoes behind them.
Seen through the eyes of the young protagonist we have the opportunity to create a world which is part real and part imagination. Liv journeys from abstract confusion to grasping the reality of her parents' situation.
This story needs lightness to it. There is drama and tension but there should be the joy and discovery of a child; her loving relationship with her mother and her new found friendship with the dog.
This is not a tale of misery. It is a series of challenges which Liv must try and overcome. And the moment of change and growth for her is a moment of power. The film may start in a dreamy, fragmented state but it ends with a fierce proposal by Liv to strike out on her own and have a different life.
This is a film which brings personal poetry to an important issue. We want the audience to remember the mystery of being a child, when there were no boundaries between real and imaginary worlds. The strength of the piece will be in the casting and visual style. We’re confident that we have the best team in place to realise the potential of this story and create something very special.
Why this story?
One in ten women in the UK experienced domestic violence in the last year. This film speaks to the progress we have made and the struggle which still continues. It uses the powerful imagination of a young girl to give poetry to that fight for empowerment and equality.
The issue shouldn’t just be window dressing for a film. It should be in the heart of the character experiencing it. It is part of a real person’s experience and it’s through this person that the audience will be moved.
Like many children Liv employs magical thinking to reassure herself that she has some power over her world. She practises drawing in the condensation on windows and holding her breath as a way of casting spells.
This film is about one of those moments in childhood where you begin to realise something profound about the world. There’s a moment where Liv’s understanding takes a giant leap.
When she finally witnesses the violence her mother has been enduring and they flee the place she has always known as home, Liv’s imagination erupts, like an uncontrollable force, destroying the landscape as they pass.
Her unconscious desire to pull down these great heavy telegraph poles gives her a moment of realisation: that imagination is the beginning of finding your power in the real world.
We have already begun casting for our lead actors and we have secured the perfect location, a farm in Sevenoaks which is only an hour's drive from London.
Over the next six weeks we will continue casting working with different combinations of actors to find the family with the right chemistry to portray Liv and her parents.
At the same time we will be doing a series of recces with different department heads to figure out the technical challenges of shooting on location. This includes set design, lighting, stunts and special effects.
In July we will begin planning the details of the shoot and rehearsing with the actors in preparation for our August filming dates.
This is a complex project working with children, dogs and VFX. However it is achievable with the right crew and planning. This film has a real possibility of festival and awards success. It is visually and narratively inventive, putting the audience in the shoes of an imaginative protagonist, going through a defining moment in their life.
Where money goes
We have raised £5k so far and need an additional £9k to take us up to and through the four day shoot.
This amount would allow us to shoot the film on a shoestring budget, with HODs who are passionate about the project and working at nominal equity rates.
In addition to launching this crowdfunding campaign, we will be applying to the British Film Institute’s Short Film fund and Goldfinch’s First Flights scheme. This finance would allow us to complete post production and pay for festival entries and marketing.
If we raise enough here we can shoot the location for the film.
If we surpass our goal here we will not be reliant on BFI or other funding to complete post production.
When is the premiere?
We are aiming to have post production finished by October and then premiering either at Sundance, Berlin or Cannes in 2024.
Photo credit: Summer 1993 directed by Carla Simon
John Mark Fitzpatrick - Writer/Director
John Mark Fitzpatrick is a BAFTA and BIFA nominated screenwriter, playwright and director. His films include OUTDOORS, writer/director (BFI London Film Festival 2022, Bolton Film Festival 2022, Official Competition LSFF 2023), LOVESTORY, writer/director (Straight 8 Top 25 2022, Curta 8, Brazil, LSFF 2023) and WREN BOYS, writer (Official Competition BFI LFF 2017, BIFA Nominated 2017, BAFTA Nominated 2018, Sundance 2018, Winner: Galway Film Fleadh, European Independent Film Festival, UK Film Festival, Provincetown, Show Me Shorts, Still Voices, Interfilm). His plays include THIS MUCH (Soho Theatre), REARED (Theatre 503) and BLUES RUN THE GAME (St Mary’s University).
Jonjo Lowe - Producer
Jonjo has ten years of experience working on promos, content and commercials across music, fashion, the arts, charity and FMCG.
He's worked for companies including Dazed Studio, PG Commercial, Blink Productions and Object & Animal, along with clients such as Apple Music, Universal, Sony Music, Adidas and The Design Museum. His hands-on background in video editing, graphic design and direction offer a rich appreciation for the technicals of film production and image-making.
'Liv' marks the beginning of Jonjo's creative collaboration with John, as well as his first and much awaited foray into strictly narrative filmmaking.
Bingqiang Xu - Executive Producer
Bingqiang Xu works between Shanghai and London. He was executive producer on Outdoors which premiered at the BFI London Film Fetsival in 2022 and was nominated for best UK short at London Short Film Festival in 2023.
Olivia Laydon & Shannon Dowling-McNulty - Casting Directors
Olivia has worked in Casting since 2017, working at the BBC as a Casting Assistant on Doctors, Shakespeare & Hathaway and Father Brown for 18 months. Following a year working on Commercials in Australia with Peta Enberg Casting Olivia returned to the UK and worked as Associate/Co-Casting Director with Amy Hubbard. Credits as Associate include Spencer (Film) Good Luck To You Leo Grande (Film), The Thief His Wife and His Canoe (ITV), Hijack (Apple). Co-Casting Director Credits - Litvinenko (ITVx) The Reckoning (BBC).
Olivia also works Assisting Theatre Casting Director Jill Green CDG, credits as Assistant to Jill Green include Crazy For You (Gillian Lynne Theatre) Jersey Boys (Trafalgar Theatre & UK Tour) The Lion King UK & Ireland Tour. Olivia is also Casting three musicals for Children's Theatre festival Perform in the Park for Jill Green Casting.
Further Casting Director Credits include BFI funded Short Film Half Way.
Shannon Dowling-McNulty is a Casting Associate for Amy Hubbard (CDG). Whilst at Amy Hubbard Casting, Shannon has worked across multiple Television and Film projects for Apple, Netflix, Sky and cinematic release. Most recently The Honeymoon (film) as Casting Associate, and The Suspect (ITV), Smothered (Sky), and Bodies (Netflix) as Co-Casting Director.
Shannon has worked in the industry since 2015, starting her career in non-scripted TV Production. Previous work includes casting in-house at CBBC, Thames TV and Stellify Media in London, and Warner Bros, Channel 7 and Fremantle in Sydney as an Assistant Producer.
David wright - Director of Photography
David has shot over 300 music videos and several hundred commercials, as well as many award winning short films and most recently the feature film 'Kindling' starring an ensemble cast including George Somner (Sex Education), Mia McKenna Bruce (The Witcher), Wilson Mbomio (The Witcher) and Conrad Khan (Peaky Blinders, County Lines,) Kaine Zajaz, Rory Saper and Tara Fitzgerald (release date, late 2023). Other drama includes The Cunning (Gemma Arteton), The Devil's Harmony (Patsy Ferran) and X to X (Tanya Reynolds).
Julie Buckland - Editor
Dispatch Rider, Dancer, Lab Technician to name but a few of the adventures taken before finding my true path of Film Editing. It is none more than that of Dancer though that have and continue to influence the way I edit. The elements of dance; rhythm, flow, expression, lyricism, mingle and merge with that of editing leading to a seamless, fluid dance of picture and sound.
Since joining the BBC I have been lucky enough to have worked alongside legends of the screen such as John Schlesinger, Jack Clayton and of late, Roger Spottiswoode.
I work across both Documentaries and Drama, each adding to the skill of the other evident in BAFTA and Grierson nominations. My strengths lie in narrative, understanding the Director’s vision and translating that vision from script to rushes to screen.
Ishbel Mull - Production Designer
Ishbel Mull is a production designer based in London. Her background in architecture informs her approach to production design and she continues to run her own architecture studio, as well as designing for film. Ishbel is excited by making the physical structures for story - from locations to objects - bringing layers though careful observation, light and colour, and the narrative effect of their choreography. Recent production design credits include Led By The Child by British Short Film Awards winning director Harry Mackrill and Pylon, by BAFTA-winning writer/director Barnaby Blackburn. She previously collaborated with John on his short Outdoors.