Preview: Chicane

Will Tilbrook 18 January 2017

The short film – starring, written, and produced by Cambridge students – premieres on Friday 20 January, and shows how exciting and innovative student film can be.

Cambridge’s newest student film, Chicane, debuts this Friday. The half-an-hour short film is set in ‘reverse chronology’ and styled as an alliterative melange of ‘what would happen if Bridget Jones met Brecht and Beckett dramatised the meeting’ – the curious caveat being that the director, Johnny King, “hadn’t read or seen any Beckett at the time of writing and had (forgive me) forgotten Bridget Jones was ever a thing.”

The trailer promises a tightly shot tale of intrigue set in Cambridge, with a hefty dose of psychological surrealism, in a genre described as ‘post-noir’ – a distortion of the lives of ordinary and mundane characters.

When asked what to expect from the film, King described “two protagonists whose stories don’t really have beginnings or ends. One of them (Kate Marston) is a washed-up comedian whose life goes absolutely nowhere over the course of the film, and the other (Isla Cowan) is on a backstreet search for truth and meaning that leaves her far more confused and anxious than when she started out.”

He says that this psychological drama contains “a few absurd twists – what would happen if your bedroom was transposed into a sunny patch of woodland just to amplify your hangover, or if your strangest fantasy came alive in a back alley. There’s a Demon Lovesong (Zoé Barnes/Isaac Jordan). I’m still not sure what the hell that is, but it looks and sounds absolutely deranged in the film and I cannot wait to see how people react to it.”

If this doesn’t seem quite enough for you, King also promises “the sleazy president of a start-up drama company (Adam Butler-Rushton), his even sleazier right hand man (Seth Kruger), a hippy ‘oracle’ who lives in a skip guarded by gnomic vigilantes and prophesizes through instrumental music (Rosa Tyler-Clark), and the world’s most indifferent punter (Peter Chappell).”

The wide scope of this film shows how varied and exciting the Cambridge cinema scene can be, and King and his actors enthusiastically echo this idea. King seems genuinely delighted to say that “film is on the map now” – those interested in filmmaking have, in his words “absolutely zero excuse not to do so” due to how much more accessible it has become in recent years, with Chicane being created on “no budget whatsoever.” There are also amusingly Cambridge-specific obstacles that they encountered when filming – including being “always on the verge of getting portered, deaned or escorted off the premises.”

From the looks of things, it seems like now is the perfect time to get involved in the Cambridge film scene. Whether you want to be a director, learning more about what it takes to bring a film to life, or an actor, experiencing a form completely different to theatre, what comes through from the team behind Chicane is that there is always an opportunity. King is right – there really is no excuse!

The film premiers this Friday in the Judith E Wilson Studio, 19:00. Entry is free and there will be a large quantity of prosecco, also free. Running time 30 minutes.