The History of Nipples

‘What are my nipples for?’ Ron asks and falls into a personal crisis with a drastic solution.

Starring Joseph Macnab (The Borgias)

Credits / Collaborators / Cast

Writer / Director – Bailey Tom Bailey
Production Company – Bad Collective
Producers – Aaron Z. Wilson, Callum Harrison
Production Manager – Melissa Giles

Casting – Emily Tilelli CDG CDA, Sally Andrews CDA

Director of Photography – Spike Morris
Production Designer – Amy Beth Addison
Prosthetics Artist – Suzi Battersby

Editing & VFX – Aurelien Boisson, Bailey Tom Bailey

Focus Puller – Raul Menendez
Loader – Milo Brown
Camera Trainee – Klara Rychtarcikova
Gaffer – Helio Riberio, Kia Little
Electrician – Ryan Massey

Art Dept. Assistant – Terri Palamara
Sound Recordist – David Baker
Production Assistant – Elizabeth Rufai
Camera & Lighting – Procam

Colourist – Myles Bevan
Colour Facilities – Time Based Arts
Colour Producer – Sean Ewins

Composer – Stefano Fasce
Sound Designer – Berry Cookman
Sound Facilities – Wave Studios
Sound Producer – Rebecca Boswell

Ron Burt – Joseph Macnab
Chloe Chival – Lily Wood
Celtic King – Ronan Cullen
Celtic Nobleman – Vile Loikkanen
Celtic Nobleman – Travis Booth-Millard
Book Narrator – Mark Elstob
Telephone Operator – Justine Louise Hope
Medic – Sorcha Bannon

Commuters – Jamie Chang, James Barber, Elizabeth Rufai
Shocked Couple – Callum Harrison, Klara Rychtarchiova
Boys Hand – Ronnie Brodrick

‘Tender Soul’ performed by – Lincoln Grounds, Bob Bradley, Steve Dymond
Published by – Audio Network


The idea came from an exhibit at the National Museum of Ireland in Dublin, which described a bizarre Celtic fertility ritual that involved sucking on a King’s nipples and the repercussions when the ritual failed. My original idea was a mock sex education film but it became more of a drama as what fascinated me beyond the absurdity was how it contrasted with our modern relationship with our bodies, the physical world and spirituality today. When I initially thought of the idea it seemed too silly but as my writing began to consistently take the form of dark comedy-drama meets surreal psychological horror with a focus on character and theme, The History of Nipples seemed like the perfect vehicle to crystalize my voice. When working at Somesuch I met producers Aaron Z. Willson and Callum Harrison who were interested in producing the short through their company Bad Collective (now re-branded Ground Works) along with associate producer Mel Giles. We worked with ET Casting and found a brilliant cast led by Joseph Macnab and Lily Woods.


The film was shot by Spike Morris and lit by Helio Ribeiro, we used Alexa Mini and Hawk V-Plus Anamorphic lenses. We could only take part of the package and being stubborn I asked for all the wide focal lengths. We shot for four days on a mix of locations and studio space (freezing warehouse). The original intention was to make all the scenes feel diagrammatic: life was simplified and observed with cool objectivity. I kept putting Ron in the middle of the composition as the anamorphic frame isolated him and showed the pressures of the modern world around him. There are some special FX moments provided by the incredible Suzi Battersby (Red Girl FX) that had people cringing on set.


The film continued to have people squirming, which is very satisfying to watch and seems to loosen people up as they laugh harder afterwards. Screenings have been held in horror (Fright Fest), comedy and WTF/ Midnight categories – all of which seem appropriate yet we are outliers of each programme. What is most satisfying to me is that people were still discussing the themes afterwards despite all the giggles and squirming.


Genre: Dark Comedy
Country: United Kingdom
Language: English
Length in minutes: 10
YEAR: 2019