What Matters - the story

June 6, 2020
Somewhere in Kent during lockdown, a family of four decided to make a short film to remember this time. However, what started as a small intimate project escalated into an international production involving over 50 youngsters from places like India , Hong Kong, Brazil, New York, New Zealand and most countries in Europe, which Kat prepped and directed online using their location as part of the story.

The film has resonated with many children and adults universally because it focuses on the youth around the world uniting to protect their future by questioning the present. It takes place in a dystopian possibly-quite-near-future, on the 788th day of Lockdown, where Covid Mutations are the norm, and compulsory segregation by genetic immunity forces families apart. With his father and now his older brother being taken away, a young lad of 12, with the help of an online international ring of youngsters carries out an act to make the world pay attention.

This is the first in a series of posts covering the production of What Matters, so follow us on here.

Casting

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Our exterior shoot with minimal crew. Ersi slating

Apart from our boys and our neighbours, the rest of the actors were auditioned and directed online.  I approached Victoria Emslee (Downtown Abbey, Theory of Everything, Danish Girl) for a pivotal role which is based in New York (well a London flat made to look New York). We originally asked half a dozen kids we had already cast in previous productions and then I posted on facebook asking friends whether their kids would like to be part of it. Next I got an inbox full of offers from people I have never met.  Within a couple of weeks, there were people from everywhere sending photos of their children, asking whether I could audition them. And that’s how it happened, how it grew. It was important to have local actors in their own countries being in the film. It validated its concept and execution. They all felt the script highlighted a possible future scenario and above all a situation that needs addressing as how our current resources and government policies and decisions are better spent, taken and implemented.

The way we work

In true indie/no-budget filmmaking, the rules differ from what they generally teach you in film school. Forget large crews, hierarchy and daily planning.  In our case, we shot with no crew at all, except for 1 day where we had a crew of 3 outside.  We shoot whenever we can and the weather allows us to keep continuity. We have been round this block for a few decades and have a combined experience of 45 years in all aspects of filmmaking from script to-post to sound mixing and grading, so it’s nothing less than heaven to be able to have footage and time to do whatever we want.  

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socially distant focus pulling and directing. and comfortable.

I’m writing, directing, editing and we produce between us. We are able to deliver with a high quality production value. All of our films have that attention to detail and have been made with a lot less money that their result implies.

The plan

We continue to work on What Matters, shooting till end of June. I edit as we go along and test things out, using my time to get creative as a Director and try out ideas. It's a more sculptural process and more satisfying that way. We're not 100% sure yet what we will do with the finished short, we want to get it seen far and wide and so Festivals are a natural channel but maybe not only. We'll see when we get a bit closer. In these times where people are suffering, especially the young,  and maybe that will get worse before it gets better - the message at the end of the short would be to guide people to some relevant children’s charities and see whether we can give a little back to the ‘future.’