Having downloaded a self help program devised and narrated by the enigmatic MAX, we follow ASH, as he prepares to tackle Lesson 7: Confronting death. What begins as a seemingly innocent and melancholic trip to a near deserted hospital ward in the late night hours, becomes a twisting journey of anguish and manipulation.
Lesson 7 was directed, produced and co-written by Neil Linpow, Exec Produced by Colm McCarthy (Peaky Blinders, Black Mirror, The Girl with all the Gifts) and stars Michelle Fairley (Game of Thrones, Gangs of London).
It was written to work as a self contained short film, that also hints at a wider story to hopefully craft a film that is both thought provoking and harrowing.
Written and shot before the pandemic and finished in the quiet lockdown months, it’s themes feel especially poignant now.
It examines ideas of mental health, self help and the desire to break free from the constraints of normal life, at any potential cost.
Credits / Collaborators / Cast
Directed and Produced – Neil Linpow
Written – Hunter Andrews
Story – Neil Linpow & Hunter Andrews
Exec Producer – Colm McCarthy
Director of photography – Job Renieke
Edited – Elena De Palma (Whitehouse)
Sound Design – Josh Campbell (Factory)
Colour grade – Toby Tomkins (Cheat)
Art Department – Mariana Fabricante
Flame artist – Jon Trussler (Coffee & TV)
Casting – Gemma Sykes
Max – Michelle Fairley
Ash – Neil Linpow
Elderly man – Bryan Hands
Nurse – Anna Harriott
Camera equipment – One Stop Films
Lighting equipment – Panalux
The story behind the film
For many people, their phone is their most trusted confidant. We take it everywhere with us, let it into our psyche and desires. We trust the apps we download, the audiobooks, podcasts and life guides we listen to. It’s the place we look to find the answers to both our passing whims and our deeper more existential life questions.
But what might look like if one of the smart devices or phone apps we give this intimate access to our lives could lead us towards violence and madness?
How far could we allow ourselves to be pushed in the pursuit of freedom from the constraints of modern society?
The goal was to craft a film that subverted the audiences expectations. To build a relatable sympathy for the protagonist through misdirection and then pull the rug from under them, revealing the true nature of the Lesson.
We tried to keep the writing lean in order to maintain a degree of narrative ambiguity, and be considered in our visual language, so that we could answer enough questions and allow the audience to go along for the ride and let the story unfold.
The film was shot for no budget other than favours in an abandoned wing of Hemel Hempstead Hospital in the UK in the freezing cold of December.
Our art department whiz, Mariana did an incredible job of making the location feel alive. You’d never guess there was no heating or running water on site!
Edited during lockdown, we sent the script to Michelle Fairley. She has such a relatable and trusted authority in her voice. Her characters are so often caring and nurturing but hide a darkness below the surface, which was perfect for MAX. Fortunately she liked the project and when the first lockdown lifted, she came in and recorded the VO for us.
With film festivals all moving online for the foreseeable future, now is the perfect time to release the film and see if it can find an audience.
We hope you enjoy it and consider featuring it amongst your excellent content.