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What Tomorrow Brings

I met Emma Davies on a shoot for Gingersnap in January and we got talking about how great it would be to do a film project together. I started working on a treatment almost straight away and this short narrative slowly came together over the following six months.

Partly inspired by a personal story Emma told me, and my agency's recurring theme of life/work choices, this is a story about hopes and plans for the future. We follow a girl travelling from the dark, cramped city she inhabits, to the vast expanse of an empty beach, on an emotional journey, reflecting on who she is, the choices she could make and how these might change her life. A late-night phone conversation between herself and her best friend accompanies the images.

Cinematic storytelling

One of the things we wanted experiment with on this piece was the deployment of cinematic storytelling techniques. Camera movement, framing, focal length, aperture, light, locations; we used it all to help tell the story. For example, when we’re still in the girl’s house, her old life as it is, the camera is fixed, and we slowly give it more freedom in the next scenes, until, at the end of the film, it appears to be dancing with her. An example of our use of framing and aperture can be seen in the first part of the film (bedroom and cafe) when the girl is pondering her future. We filmed this as a close up, with a shallow focus, emphasising her mental state.

Films I watched to prepare included To The Wonder and The Tree of Life (cinematography by Emmanuel Lubezki), In The Mood for Love (cinematography Christopher Doyle / Pung-Leung Kwan / Ping Bin Lee), plus Three Colors: Blue and The Double Life of Veronique (cinematography Slawomir Idziak).

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Breakdown

he film opens in a dimly lit bedroom. We introduce the main character gradually, first by showing close-ups of items that tell us about her background and potential. This includes dance and acting. We see toes peeping out of the duvet. A wisp of red hair sticking out at the top. She then sits in front of the mirror, examining her face (duality). Next we see her leave the dark, boxed-in world that she lives in (introspective). When she’s on the bus, staring out of the window we see the ugly city passing by before she leaves this behind (duality, journey, old world). In the next scene she’s in a cafe looking out of the window, partly filmed from the outside looking in. She’s thinking, writing (contemplation). We then see her walking along a road. Hand on fence (contemplation - exploration). She stops at a fork in the road (choices) and turns right. She’s on a country lane, in the woods. Sunlight through trees. Face to the sun, soaking it up (choice made - light). We see her at a river, with fresh water. It sparkes. She washes her hands (out with old, in with new). We show the sense of freedom and possibilities when she’s in the dunes, amidst long grass and light coming through leaves. It ends with her on the beach, which is wide and stretched. Emptiness. Sun is setting. She dances, runs and smiles. Ultimate freedom.

The shoot

The film was shot over two days, in the Swansea/Gower area and Southville, Bristol. The voice-over was recorded a few weeks later in our studio in Bristol.

Seeing as we had had no time to do a recce beforehand and only having been able to examine Google maps and pictures online, Emma’s mother Jacqueline played an integral part in finding the locations we needed in the Gower. We found Maddocks’ Tearoom online, but it had closed down by the time we arrived. Luckily for us, the owners Pat and Anthony were baking Welshcakes in the kitchen at the back and they kindly allowed us to shoot inside, whilst providing us with tea and delicious cakes. That couldn’t have gone better.

The bedroom scenes and the kitchen scene were filmed at Jo’s house. We built a set with a painted backdrop and props from Emma’s house and furniture from Remco’s house (the bed was Jo’s!).

Maybe we shouldn’t jinx it, but we always seem to get the weather we need on a shoot. And these two days were no exception. We were very lucky. Everything came together.

Credits and technical information

Written and directed by Remco Merbis.
Voice-over by Remco Merbis & Fern Scott.
Featuring Emma Davies.
Narrated by Emma Davies and Gb Graham-Williams
Cinematography, grade and edit by Remco Merbis.
Production Assistant: Joanna Howe

With thanks to Jacqueline Davies and Anthony & Pat Maddock from Maddocks’ Tea Room, Southgate, Gower, Wales.

Shot on location in South Wales and Bristol.

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Sony PXW-FS7

Metabones Speedbooster Ultra
Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM Lens
Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 II USM Lens
Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6l is ii usm
Tiffen Digital Diffusion Filter 1
Hoya Pro1 Digital Circular Polariser

Manfrotto 546GBK with 504HD head tripod
Chinese Lantern
Datavision LED-900 LED
Various diffusers and reflectors

Shot at 25 and 50 fps at 1080p.

Graded in DaVinci Resolve, using Osiris Vision Color film emulation 3D LUTs with added 35mm film grain.