From ‘Get Out’ to ‘The Babadook’ to ‘The Thing’, all these films touch on things that innately scare us as humans, whilst also shining a light on the society and systems that surround us.

With ‘Switch On’ we hope to capture the essence of these films and portray an experience that is all too common amongst young people in this country, in a visceral, visually innovative way. Anxiety and educational stress are commonplace in young people and these people who suffer are often diminished or ignored. Feeling reduced to a grade on a sheet of paper can be degrading and traumatic for young people. And even those who achieve “good grades” can often end up feeling unfulfilled or overwhelmed by the pressure applied to them. 

When I personally passed my GCSEs I felt so overwhelmed by the experience that I strongly questioned what I wanted to do and achieve in my life. This film aims to best represent that experience and provide visibility to those who have been marginalised by our educational institutions.

The heart of the story is Alexander (the lead) and his journey towards the dreaded exam date. His anxiety rises as a result of the pressure placed on him and these anxieties are portrayed through the ‘horror’ elements, and his seeming inadvertent self-sabotage.

In this film, I aim to raise the question: is academic achievement worth it at the expense of one's sanity and mental wellbeing? As well as showcasing a portrayal of the effects anxiety and fear can have on someone, which is something our main target audience of young people and students can relate to.

~ Esmond Yao (Writer/Director of 'Switch On')