Hidden

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Hidden
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Genre: Drama, Thriller
Broadcast: 27/11/2018
No. of Episodes: 1
Producer(s): Thomas Schubert Richard Jones Stephanie Shires

Hidden is a 2018 short film written and directed by Thomas Schubert, and was the first major production for many freshers of the 2017\18 academic year. It was nominated for Best Drama at NASTA 2019. The film runs for 13:32 minutes, stars Hope Shooter in the main role and was the biggest short film project YSTV had done by that point. It deals with themes of guilt, secrecy and toxic relationships, while being incredibly pretentious. (Note by the author: I directed this thing, I can say this).

Plot

University student Dana (Charlotte Rogers) has been missing for several days. When her best friend Zoe (Hope Shooter) walks through campus one evening, she spots Dana's boyfriend Oliver (Richard Jones). He is hanging up posters in search of his girlfriend, asking for information. When he tries to talk with Zoe, she apruptly rushes off in distress.

Zoe and Oliver

Later at night, Zoe sits alone in her living room, drinking vodka to calm her nerves. Desperate, she suddenly grabs her things and heads out to leave - until she is stopped by her girlfriend Vivian (Roxanne Spence). Shortly later, Vivian - having grown suspicious - interrogates Zoe, until she reveals the cause of her distress: A letter by the university inviting her to an interview about the whereabouts of Dana. Vivian is visibly worried by these news as well, but tries to calm down her girlfriend anyway. From this point on forward, the narrative jumps back and forth between the conversation between Zoe and Vivian and the interrogation at the university as if it was in a Christoper Nolan film.

When Zoe is called into questioning the next day, she encounters Oliver who had been in just before her. Since Vivian instructed her to not talk to him, she rushes off again. In her conversation with the university's support worker John (Dean Murphy) she feigns ignorance about Dana's whereabouts, but when John reveals that her and Oliver's stories don't add up, he urges her to tell the truth.

At their house, Zoe's and Vivian's discussion gets more and more heated as the girls grow increasingly worried about Zoe not handling the interview well. Ultimately, Vivian snaps and yells at Zoe, who suffers a nervous breakdown. Reconsidering, Vivian advises her what to say to John. She then proceeds to reassure Zoe and tells her that she loves her.

Zoe opens up and tells John about Dana having run away when she felt overwhelmed by life at the university. Satisfied, John thanks her for her honesty and sends her away. Still in distress, Zoe wanders around aimlessly until she comes across Oliver sitting alone on a bench. Feeling bad about having ignored him before, Zoe sits down next to him. Oliver discloses that he thinks Dana has run away because of him cheating on her... with Vivian.

Shocked by this and broken-hearted, Zoe gets up to leave, before apruptly turning around. She reveals that Dana is in fact dead, killed by Vivian when they got in a fight. Unbeknownst to Zoe, this had been about Vivian cheating with Oliver. Vivian then had Zoe promise her to cover up the story.

The final shot of Hidden

Distressed, but somewhat relieved about having told the truth, Zoe walks off. The final shot of the film shows Vivian and Zoe hugging.


Cast and Crew

Cast

Roxanne Spence as Vivian
Dean Murphy as John


Crew

Vivian and the corpse of Dana

Production

Inspired by Sam Hance’s Last Page, Thomas started thinking about shooting his own short film. He already had done several amateur short films before uni, but this was gonna be his first one in English.

He wrote several drafts of the script over the winter break and ended up pitching early into spring term – only one week after The System had been pitched. While generally approved by most members present at the production meeting, it were fellow first years that immediately wanted to be involved; namely Richard Jones, Anastasia Arsentyeva and Stephanie Shires.

With shooting scheduled to take place at the end of that term (as the first years were mistakenly assuming that it would be a relaxed time), the group started pre-production, with five people offering to be involved as producers. Most pre-production work, however, was done by Anastasia and Thomas. They scouted locations, thought about casting and created shot lists.

Throughout this process, one problem became apparent: Thomas had originally planned for three days of shooting, which was nearly not enough time. Therefore, it was decided to split filming across two terms.

Another problem was casting: Only very few people turned up to the scheduled casting sessions, so it was only Hope Shooter who was cast this way (even though Thomas and Hope had already known each other previously). Richard Jones was cast as ‘’Oliver’’ from the very beginning, as he had explicitly asked to play this part. Other cast members were found within YSTV’s selection of theatre students: Roxanne Spence and Charlotte Rogers. The role of ‘’John’’ would only be filled in summer term by Dean Murphy on Theo Bimson’s suggestion.

The main location (the interior of the house) was found when Tom Lee and Kenric Yuen offered up their kitchen and living room. Little did they know, they agreed to a horde of first years take over their home for two days.

The first day of filming was a Friday evening, with Hope Shooter being the only cast member present. For this reason, the team planned to shoot all scenes with her on her own. However, because set-up took so long, they were only able to get a single shot.

The second shoot day was the most extensive one, as it started at 8am – and only ended at 1am in the night. Most of the day was spent with Roxanne and Hope and their scenes. This proved to be tiresome work for the crew due to being locked in the room for many hours without daylight. But on the bright side, it led to the first years bonding for the first time (and helped many of them figure out how to work on a film set). Major credit has to go to Director of Photography Anastasia Arsentyeva for installing a professional atmosphere on set – despite her and Thomas were improvising a lot.

With the shoot at the house wrapped around 10pm, a smaller part of the crew loaded equipment into a taxi and drove to the Spring Lane Building on campus, in order to shoot the opening scene. With time running out, it had to be completed very quickly, and therefore many shots were done hand-held. It came in handy that this scene had been staged and practiced with Hope and Richard Jones several times earlier in the week. The crew returned equipment to the studio around 1am – after a 17 hour shooting day!

Cast and crew after 17 hours of filming

The third day only included the shoot of the film’s final outdoor scene, set behind the Piazza Building. This day was mostly notable due to being incredibly cold and windy, which made the crew miserable and the sound team curse the close-by motor road. Afterwards, several members of cast and crew headed out to crew on the shoot for The System. After the third day, filming took a long break until halfway through summer term, when the assessment period had calmed down again. The fourth day of filming concentrated on the scenes set within the office. The location had been found only a week prior in the Law & Management school. For once, the shoot went relatively smoothly except for the room’s interior heating up immensely throughout the day, making it hard to stay focussed towards the end.

The final and fifth day of filming had the crew return to the house of Tom Lee and Kenric Yuen. They filmed the flashback scenes, including the fight between Vivian and Dana. In the process, they nearly stained the floor with a lot of fake blood. Luckily, they wrapped quickly enough. The shoot ended with a shot of Hope walking up some steps. With filming all done, it took a while for the post-production process to start, as Thomas was busy with other YSTV Productions. However, he managed to picture lock the film before heading home for summer vacation. The editing process included the creation of several smaller visual effects, and a few scenes were re-structured slightly from their original conception.

Over summer, Stephanie Shires began working on the colour grade, which proved to be difficult due to some incoherent lighting in the living room scenes. Ultimately, she was able to pull it off, by completely changing the colours within the scene digitally. After summer, work began on the final stages of post-production. Andrew Battersby took on the sound edit, which lasted for several months. This was to do with major background noises for the outdoor scenes and incoherent acoustics within other scenes. At the same time, Thomas recruited music student Liv Wilson to write and digitally record the score.

Ultimately, the film was released in November, on the same day it was screened at a Production Meeting for the first time. To hype up it’s release on Facebook, YSTV published the missing poster that plays a vital role in the film a day before.

A 10-minute version was produced for NASTA 2019.

Trivia

  • The original draft of the script included a secret drug empire run by Zoe and Vivian, an old lady they are living with and a proper police interrogation. Retrospectively, Thomas has no idea why he ever thought that could be a good idea.
  • The shoot was the origin of the sound team, and began the blossoming romance between Andrew Battersby and Joseph Wharfe.
  • Several other regular future team-ups originated during ‘’Hidden’’: The Dynamic Duo, the cooperation between director Thomas Schubert and DoP Anastasia Arsentyeva and Hope Shooter’s reputation as YSTV’s go-to actress.
  • The film was also supposed to be nominated for ‘’Best Cinematography’’ at NASTA 2019, but ended up being disqualified, as YSTV entered a video of Thomas and Anastasia breaking down the cinematography. Apparently, that was against the rules.
  • The scenes inside the house where shot throughout the day, even though they were set at night. To achieve this, the crew blacked out the windows with massive black cloths.
"Missing" poster in Spring Lane
  • The long shot on a slider, with Zoe and Vivian pacing through the kitchen was made up on set to save time.
  • The shot of Zoe walking past the missing poster had to be re-done 14 times.
  • Additional equipment was provided by Edward Whyte from FilmLab
  • The picture of Dana on the posters was Charlotte Roger’s profile picture when she was 16.
  • Originally, the film was supposed to end with Zoe walking away from Oliver on the bench. Instead, Thomas decided that Zoe and Vivian hugging would make for a more powerful closing shot.
  • Famously, most of the film’s sound recordings where just of Hope walking or breathing.
  • The posters made a cameo in A Killer Opportunity.



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