Council is a short film set at an indeterminate point in the future where overpopulation is a serious danger and must be managed by a panel of judges who determine who lives, and dies, on an annual basis. Our central character, Kane, must go before the council to prove his worth and finds that the values they are looking for are not the ones he envisaged.
What would you do if every 12 months you had to convince the world that you were worthy of being alive? How would that affect the way you lived your life? Would you do anything differently?
These are the questions at the heart of Council – a narrative short film from writer/director Hayden Fortescue. Combining elements of Thriller and Sci-fi with principles from Philosophy and Self-Development. Council is a project unlike anything before it.
Following a young man whose mistakes over the past year have left him anxious and despondent, we come to learn what principles such a society would value and if he is able to earn a place among them.
This is a cinematic experience that will touch you to your core and stay with the viewer long after the credits have finished rolling.
Production for the film began in Perth, Western Australia, around early October 2015. Principal Photography was 2 & 1/2 days of shooting that November across two locations. Both spaces coincidentally named after the same famous West Australian Sir John Winthrop Hackett.
Hackett Hall at the WA Museum became our ‘Int. Council Chamber’ and is an especially seminal building for the capital city at over 100 years old. With permission from the State Government we became only the second narrative production to utilise the space and did so a mere week before it was closed to the public for a five year period of renovations.
After a long search for a ‘Int. Hallway’ that could match the grandeur of our other location — Hackett Dining Hall at St Georges College was chosen. Traditionally a mess hall for the university students of the prestigious college, the room was transformed by our Art Department to become a sparse and totalitarian waiting room for the project.
With other interesting challenges such as night shoots, constructing and transporting an antique ‘council podium’ and futuristic ‘lie detectors’, the film’s cast and crew rose to the occasion. Followed by several months of editing, visual effects and sound design from a talented team of post-production professionals, the film was complete and delivered in time for festivals by March 2016. Just 6 months since beginning Pre-Production.
With this film I wanted to explore themes that have become deeply interesting to me. Subjects like what it means to be ‘successful’. individual mindset when confronting overwhelming challenges and ultimately the role failure plays in our lives. I wanted to craft a short film that touched on some of these key principles and could perhaps even influence people in a positive way. Through the script I tried to infuse these ideas with a gripping storyline and a dystopian setting to keep the audience engaged and paying close attention.
I was blessed with having three of the best actors in Perth come on board to inhabit our main characters. I had written these roles with Liam Graham, Nicola Bartlett and Adam T Perkins specifically in mind, and was extremely humbled that they responded to the story as positively as they did. As a result, I was able to have my first preferences for ‘Kane’, ‘Price’ and ‘Stone’ — every directors dream! Our other cast was filled through an exhaustive casting process that brought many talented and dedicated young actors to our attention and, a specific few, to our audiences.
With the film taking place in a small, contained world I wanted to use a very cinematic style to bring it to life. As the plot develops predominantly via dialogue with little physical movement, I wanted to utilise slow, creeping camera moves to mesmerise the audience. Combined with an unsettling. hypnotic score this acts to draw the viewer in without them even realising. So when the unexpected twists and surprises do come, the result is all the more impactful.
For me COUNCIL was an extremely rewarding experience -both creatively and personally. I hope to continue delving into stories and projects like this in the future.
– Hayden Fortescue