Out of Our Hands
'Out of Our Hands' is an anthology series of three short films - 'The Bird', 'The Rat' and 'The Whip' - which emerge as a unified response to questions surrounding guilt, truth, and free will. In all three, mundane situations give way to the surreal and the absurd, throwing man’s perennial and profitless pursuit of happiness into sharp relief.
Out of Our Hands
Since our first appeal for funds in May last year, we were lucky enough to reach and surpass our fundraising target of £6000, thanks to our incredibly generous supporters.
We initially planned to put these funds towards the production, post-production and distribution of just the first two films of the trilogy. However, upon completing shooting 'The Rat' and 'The Whip', we found ourselves with an unmissable opportunity to shoot the third film, 'The Bird', as well - something we hadn't believed we'd be able to accomplish in just one summer. As such, the funds initially intended for the postproduction and distribution of 'The Rat' and 'The Whip' instead covered the production costs of 'The Bird', leaving us armed with the complete material for the entire trilogy!
So, having completed the production of three films with a budget we had intended for two, we are now looking to raise a further £2000 to support the post-production and distribution of the entire trilogy. This will enable us to:
1. Purchase music rights for tracks key to the films' narrative.
2. Submit the films to festivals from January onwards. With this budget, we would be able to submit the films to 10 carefully selected festivals each, giving us a good chance to get our work seen in this competitive industry by professional panels.
When can I see the films?
Many film festivals require their showing of the film to be the premiere; this means that our official, public premiere of 'Out of Our Hands' will fall some time after the 2022 festival season - meaning you'll have to wait just a little longer before the trilogy becomes available to the public. Of course, were we fortunate enough to get a nomination, you'd be able to see the film at a festival before then.
We'd like to say a huge thank you for your patience, especially while backing the film so loyally. In the meantime, we'll be providing clips of the films and BTS photos of production on our social media, to give you a taster of what you'll be in for, so keep an eye out!
What is Out of Our Hands?
Out of Our Hands was born from the basic desire to tell stories as universal as possible, and the belief that the most timeless and inscrutable problems of the human situation can be drawn out of a scenario when seen through the lens of absurdity.
In our film anthology, this reasoning is applied to three very different situations — chefs cooking in a kitchen, a woman hiring an escort, and a man returning home to his mother — laying bare the futility and confusion which defines the common human struggle.
We aim to be equally eclectic in our visual language. Out of Our Hands will be shot in deliberately distinct styles and mediums - colour digital, black and white, and 16mm - consistent with our multifaceted reflections on the same unresolvable questions.
Who is it for?
Our stories consciously aim to create a cinematic space as stripped of external reference and prejudice as possible. Out of Our Hands is therefore, essentially, for everyone.
We hope that our work will particularly resonate with anyone who enjoys taking a philosophical or darkly comic look at the macabre, the uncomfortable, or the upsetting.
Our first two films — The Rat and The Whip — are shooting in June and July, aiming for distribution in the 2022 festival season.
We are looking to fundraise £5000 to cover the essential costs of locations, actors’ wages, equipment, costumes, music licensing and festival fees. We would be hugely grateful for any contribution you were willing to make, be it a standalone pledge or a purchase of rewards we have on offer. These feature the opportunity to see the film first, exclusive shots of our work behind-the-scenes, and a chance to be credited as executive producer in the end credits and on our IMDb listing.
The Rat - Synopsis
The Rat is a film about a sequestered kitchen in which everything - including the dignity and freedom of its chefs - is subordinated to a sacrosanct ideal: the ‘standards’. A chef who fails to meet the standards set by Riccardo, their judge and enforcer, risks being subjected to sustained verbal abuse, tyranny and humiliation.
Three chefs prepare gourmet dishes under the watchful eye of their Head Chef, Riccardo. Once service is called, Riccardo loads the plates onto a tray, which he takes out of the kitchen, and then down a long, dimly-lit passage. At the end of the passage is not a ritzy dining room, but a large bin. Riccardo dumps the food in the bin.
We know what the chefs don’t; that both the torment, and the standards they endure it for, are totally senseless. We watch with horror as the chefs suffer their absurd fate.
However, for one chef, Sam, the intelligibility of existence in the kitchen is suddenly replaced by an existential malaise. Despite being told that he is a rat by Riccardo, whose verdict is absolute, a small nucleus of rebellion within Sam cannot accept it, and the illusion of his Head Chef’s omniscience disintegrates.
Sam finds himself at a moral crossroads: should he accept what he knows not to be true — that he is a rat — or resolve to shape his own destiny, and confront Riccardo?
The Whip - Synopsis
The Whip examines the ambiguity and hypocrisy rooted in our practices of assigning guilt and blame, and the duties and values that we subjugate ourselves and others to. It asks the question: what does it mean to self-flagellate? Is it penance and purity or excessive self-criticism? Do we have a duty to be happy? If so, who to? And is it a duty we can conceivably ignore?
A mysterious visitor approaches the door to Amanda’s and knocks, holding a leather mask in one hand and a riding crop in the other. He announces himself as ‘Jerry the Gigolo.’ Amanda seems pleased — she’s been expecting him — and calls him in.
Jerry’s face is stunned as he sees Amanda’s. He seems to know her from somewhere. Before she can get a proper look at him, he hurriedly pulls on his mask. They begin a sexual roleplay - the service which ‘Jerry the Gigolo’ provides. Jerry leads, and Amanda enthusiastically follows him in the verbal game. But there’s a concerning edge of sincerity to his voice, with undertones of genuine judgement, and the sense that he knows more about her than he should.
Uncomfortable, Amanda wants no more part in it. However, Jerry refuses to leave, convinced that Amanda has lied to herself, and in doing so, failed to fulfil her obligation to be happy — an accusation she fervently denies. The ensuing dialogue sweeps the pair along the stream of Amanda’s personal history, as the relationship between herself and Jerry oscillates between prosecutor and accused, love and despair.
But when Jerry removes his mask to reveal himself to be John - an estranged acquaintance from Amanda’s past - will she finally succumb to John’s insistence that she repent? Or will she repel the foisted guilt?
The Bird - Synopsis
The Bird, like the other films in Out of Our Hands, is about the reaction of human beings to imposed duties and foisted guilt, and how the intellect often withers into impotence in the presence of these more visceral forces.
A timid man in a suit knocks politely at the door of a cottage, and is granted entry by an elderly woman, who rebukes him for his tardiness.
The man is Frank; an accredited academic. The woman is Philippa, his indomitable mother. This is their home.
Both are in low spirits - an academic insult has left Frank disillusioned with his entire domain of enquiry, and Philippa has spent the day plagued by the foreshadowing of ill-fortune.
Her omen proves true; Frank has a wife and an infant son, and he’d like to fulfil his paternal obligation by moving in with them. Unfortunately, as Philippa points out, his paternal duty is not as pressing as his filial one. We live in a world of debt and repayment, and Frank has not finished paying back what he owes. In fact, he never will, for, as his mother reminds him, she will never die. Of course not - how could he have forgotten.
However, as per the original plan, Catherine, Frank’s wife, arrives at the house to take him away. Despite Philippa’s protests, Catherine is not as easily cowed as her husband. Frank watches, powerless, as the two matriarchs bitterly clash over his future. We’re left wondering whether he will ever escape from the oppressive mesh of contradictions concocted by his mother, or if he is condemned to be churned through the same cyclical mechanisms for the rest of his days.
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Meet the crew
Clockwise from top left: Charlie Johns / Meg Wriggles / Lotte Thomas / Hector Hilleary / Lewis Baillie / Isobel Jones-Rigby / Laitsi Berre / Max Torras and Lewis Raeburn.
Who we are
Charlie has recently - prompted in no small part by Covid-19 - taken the step from prose and play-writing to screenplay. The absurdist philosophy of Albert Camus has had a considerable impact on CJ, and he has found himself persistently drawn to exploring Sisyphean themes through the medium of confined and sequestered spaces in his work.
The films of Godard, forward-thinking anthologies like Black Mirror, and the theatre of the Absurd have all served as stylistic cues for his filmmaking. Out of Our Hands signifies his firm belief in the visceral power of film to act as a vehicle for philosophical reflection.
Meg has worked on multiple films as director of photography and, more recently, director. The serial format of 'Out of Our Hands' brings a new challenge in presenting films with the same central themes but distinct stories - something which Meg looks forward to drawing together. Meg is particularly excited to bring the films' undertones of strangeness and absurdity to life.
With experience working for film production companies, casting agencies, and producing plays, Lotte looks forward to making her debut as producer on a film. She’s particularly interested in the subversion of genre in ‘Out of Our Hands’, and is excited to bring into being such a dynamic, original script.
Director of Photography
An accomplished freelance photographer, Hector has increasingly turned to moving image and film in the last few years. Having developed his skills behind the camera, he's now working as the director of photography on this upcoming project. Hector is keen to reflect the scripts' themes within the aesthetic elements of each film, so that the range of concepts, from absurdity to personal freedom, are reflected in each film's distinct style.
As a student of sound design at Edinburgh Napier University, Laitsi is looking forward to applying her skills to an independent project. Independently, she has worked with sound and music producers as well as on short films.
Going into her final year of costume at the Edinburgh College of Art, Izzy has designed and made costumes for many different kinds of shows. She worked with the National theatre Scotland for her first taste of set and costume in film and has been excited to build her portfolio further. Izzy has been looking forward to seeing how she can lean into and explore the themes of 'Out of Our Hands' through its costume.
Thank you so much for taking a look at our fundraising campaign. To keep up with our progress and get a look in behind the scenes, follow us on social media.
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We can't wait to update you on our progress!
Meet the cast
From left to right, starting top left:
Camilla Anvar - Chef One, The Rat
Dylan Baldwin - Riccardo, The Rat
Adam Barnett - Chef Two, The Rat
Andrew McGeachie - John, The Whip
Gemskii - Amanda, The Whip
Sani Mamood - Sam, The Rat
Jane Goddard - Philippa, The Bird
Jonathan Hansler - Frank, The Bird
Sarah Feltham - Catherine, The Bird
We are gutted to announce that after the first day of filming on Sunday for ‘The Rat’, we have had to call off the remainder of the shoot for the time being, after a member of the crew tested positive for COVID-19 on Monday morning.