A Fish Out Of Water

by Tommy dunne in London, England, United Kingdom

We did it
On 26th February 2024 we successfully raised £300 with 8 supporters in 13 days

We are a group of third-year film students who are producing our final project. This will be a 10-15 minute short film.

by Tommy dunne in London, England, United Kingdom

1707663273_a_film_poster_for_a_film_called_fish_out_of_water_copy.jpgWe are a group of third-year film students who are producing our final project. This will be a 10-15 minute short film where we hope to achieve our absolute best work. We are midway to final way through the pre-production process where luckily we have been able to acquire locations for free - however we need more of a budget for travel expenses, production design, costumes, and catering. Our university has kindly sponsored our film for £300, so we aim to raise as much as we can to achieve our  goal. Although we have scouted a location for free, and have brought our expenses down massively, it's always best to have a contingency plan!

All funds raised will be used for set design, costumes hair and make up, props and food/travel expenses for actors.

Longline: A teenage girl struggling to navigate life and school finds comfort in the least likely of friends.

Film premise: We follow Layla a neurodivergent student who faces her struggles at home and at school unaware of what actually might be wrong.


Layla resented going back to school because she felt trapped by the monotony and the itchy material of her uniform. She found it difficult to concentrate in class and to relate to her peers.But Layla found comfort in her love of marine life thanks to the encouragement of her kind teacher, Mr. Lewis. She started to accept her uniqueness and discover her voice in spite of her fears.Equipped with her affection for the sea and the motivation of Mr. Lewis, Layla bravely confronted every day. She also experienced a sense of empowerment as she stood outside the school building, drowning out the cacophony with her headphones.Layla embraced her future prepared to face the trials that lay ahead, determined to overcome any hurdle.

Crew introductions:

Director: Sofia Nicodemo                                                                                      Producer: Jamila Ahmed                                                                                         Director of photography: Niall Brennan                                                                Production design: Luke Roberts                                                                           Sound: Tyler Mitchell                                                                                             Editor: Thomas Dunne

Crew statements:

Director: Sofia Nicodemo: As director, my intention for this film is to create a moving yet informative piece about the neurodivergent experience growing up, specifically targeting within high school. I want to subtly inform audiences about the signs that someone could potentially be neurodivergent and to highlight some of the techniques that may help them navigate life a little bit easier. Without the film seeming like a boring lesson. To do this, I need to create a story that will emotionally invest and include the audience, whilst directing the actors efficiently, so that they allow their characters to open up their emotional vulnerability towards the audience. A technique that I shall be using to create curiosity and investment within my film is by gradually revealing the main character “Layla’s inner turmoil, the fact that she's neurodivergent without realising it. By doing this, the audience will unknowingly be educated whilst watching, as Act 1 of the story gives material for the audience to create a bias against Layla, which comes crashing apart in Act 2 and they are forced to re-evaluate her character. By using character building exercises and techniques with my actor, we will be able to create a complex character that slowly learns about herself as the film goes on. Another way I will be emotionally captivating the audience will be through my concept of experimental sensory cinema. During the climax of the film, Layla experiences a meltdown. To ensure the audience view this as a meltdown and not “She’s being dramatic it’s just a little busy” I intend to create an immersive experience for the audience by directing my DOP and sound producer to amplify everything, I want the sound to be uncomfortable within the audience's ears, and for the DOP to use many POV camera angles, using handheld camera and using a tight lens to create a cramped experience. By doing this, the audience are experiencing what Layla feels, causing them to feel more empathy towards her and her daily struggles. Inspirations for this are from Uncut Gems (2019). 

The reason that I am motivated to create this film is the fact that I have ADHD and I have struggled within high school, and barely received support due to no one picking up the possibility that I had ADHD. I want to create this film to let people know they can get support if 

they feel different and that they’re not alone with their experiences, as well as people being able to identify the signs better. I intend to make the film in a sensitive manner and I have been doing anonymous public surveys in order to get not just my experience spoken about, but many peoples’. I want to make sure Layla is played by a neurodivergent actor to make sure no offence is taken by anyone, as I want this film to be made with respect towards the neurodivergent community. I want it to feel like it has a sense of unity.

Producer: Jamila Ahmed:      

As Producer for ‘A Fish Out of Water,’ I have been immersed in the collaborative process of bringing this narrative to life. Our recent test shoot marked an exciting milestone, which I believe set the stage for our main shoot in March. One of the pivotal aspects on my end is our shooting schedule. After going over the script, shot list, and storyboard; I have meticulously planned four days for the principal shooting, with an additional fifth day dedicated to any necessary pickup shots. This schedule aims to balance the need for creative exploration with the practicalities of time management, hopefully ensuring a comprehensive coverage of our script while allowing time and room for adjustments.

Budget considerations have been another focal point, acknowledging the student nature of our crew, most of the funds will be distributed towards critical elements such as set operations, props, and costumes. Thanks to the location connections, we have managed to strategically relocate our resources, which will hopefully enhance the visual and narrative elements of the film. Location logistics have been carefully navigated, securing access to key spots like the Mandela building, Whiteland’s, and Tom’s house. These choices not only align with our narrative needs but also minimize our overall costs, allowing us to allocate funds across other production elements in a balanced way.

Communication remains the base of our approach; regular team meetings have allowed an open exchange of ideas, ensuring everyone’s input is valued. As the main shoot approaches, continued communication will be vital, ensuring all team members are well-prepared and aligned with the project’s evolving needs. In terms of my process, I believe in doing things in stages; after running through the script as a group, we go through it again as we begin marking the script for a scene-by-scene breakdown as well as address any initial production concerns that stand out. After meeting again to go through the storyboard and shot list, I began asking questions about timings, schedules, and budgeting, to ensure we were all on the same page and to address any other concerns. After completing the risk and recce forms, I ask the crew to give me a full kit list

to ensure everything will be booked accordingly, I also make sure to remind everyone about their statements and ensure they know I am available if they are confused or have any questions or concerns, I am not afraid to be the ‘bad guy’ if it means bringing our vision to life. I ensure all if not most documents are shared on Google Drive and Google Docs to ensure everyone has real- time access and updates to everything, and finally, I compile a Production folder with all key elements needed. As our main shoot approaches, communication will be more vital than ever and I am confident that our group will be prepared for any bumps that come along the way.

In conclusion, our production approach for ‘A Fish Out of Water’ is a dynamic blend of creative exploration and meticulous planning. By addressing key concerns related to scheduling, budgeting, and communication, we are dedicated to delivering a captivating film that authentically captures Layla’s transformative journey. I am confident that our combined efforts will result in a memorable film.

Director of photography: Niall Brennan 

When approaching this film as Cinematographer I wanted to create a piece that is informative and can give a realistic visualisation, whilst also adding in some more creative elements to help the audience connect with and understand the character, whilst also creating something entertaining and interesting to watch. I intend to create a tone that feels grounded in reality whilst also presenting imagery that is not what the average person considers reality but is what a neurodivergent person may experience. One reference I looked at during the initial planning was the YouTube video “Can you make it to the end?” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aPknwW8mPAM&ab_channel=NationalAutisticSociety) by the National Autistic Society. I found the use of shaky POV shots to help bring myself as an audience member into the experience of the neurodivergent character and understand their panic when combined with the editing as well as close ups of certain objects causing him more distress. Though I don’t want to use exclusively POV shots, especially during scenes where our main character isn’t having a meltdown. I also used talking to my brother who is neurodivergent as well as the director also being neurodivergent herself. These personal conversations and relationships gave a great insight and understanding of what I should portray, as well as my relationship with my brother understanding how these situations look from an outside perspective. To achieve this, I want to use longer lenses wherever I can using close ups and medium close ups creating a tight frame keeping Layla and her emotions as the main focus. The visual style somewhat changes throughout with the changes to our character and her emotions to help drive the story. In moments where Layla is calm and comfortable the cinematography reflects this with much softer lighting and smoother camera work. This contrasts with the scenes in which Layla is becoming agitated or feeling uncomfortable where I want to use much more handheld camera work with a faster pace and harsher lighting. In these scenes I also plan on

finding some sort of filter over the lens such as stretched out stockings to create a bloomy effect with the lighting.

Production design: Luke Roberts   

When it comes to production designer it’s all about make the imagination coming to life on the screen adding atmosphere, character and story all into one, as much as the director needs to understand in and out the character and story so does the Production designer. In the case of “A Fish Out of Water” the way sets and locations will look it’s not so far off from what you would see in everyday life in school. Typically, with recent films or even shows that are based in the uk that have schools usually try to Americanize the look which creates rather this nostalgia and soft look like with “Sex education”, “Booksmart”, “eighth” grade and “lady bird” that for a good portion of people doesn’t really capture the look or feel of school life and with what I am to achieve is to make school that looks rather bleak but not the over the top bleak in where you think it’s the apocalypse. No it would be more where color feels soft yet mundane which would perfectly capture the character of Layla's personal view of the world around her which keeps that character driven narrative as she sees her new school as the harsh uncomfortable hellhole that she feels forced into being at that feels reminiscent of “the inbetweeners”, “Moonlight” and, “Stand by me”.

What really works well having the schools color be more mundane and softer is with the nice contrast of Layla’s personal life within her room which will burst of huge personality and character with the nice dynamic and warm colors that really show the true character of Layla that she hides from the outside world. Her bedroom becomes way more visually striking with using her Hobbie of Marine life that plays such a important role in the story of Layla and the journey she goes on in this story. Having looked at stuff like “The Virgin Suicides”, “The Fallout” “Mermaids” and “Euphoria” it helps at what other characters that are female are being represented in the production design that again captures that story and character throughout. The color of blue and green plays a huge part as it will represent the women being a little part of the ocean capture that sense of Layla being a fish in a somewhat literal sense as there will also be other fake marine animals like stuffed toys and decorations of marine life throughout with also books and clothes and maybe a plate or bowel that while doesn’t have anything to do with the Hobbie shows the laziness and edge that Layla has. Wanting to make the scenes in the bedroom looking aesthetically pleasing is a huge goal of mine as I want the audience as well to feel comfortable and relaxed so when we head to our schools the sense of extreme whiplash and constant anxious feeling is felt just like are character experiences.

When it comes the costumes it’s all rather quite simple as besides the character Mr. Lewis and The Mother everyone else is in a uniform, however this makes the small details even larger and more meaningful with Layla’s back having some marine badge or pin while as the bag itself is a rather bland dark grey color that wouldn’t necessarily stand out if it didn’t have the badge or pin on it. The other students like Becci and Mia would be fun to play along with a mean girls type fashion with maybe pink or yellow bracelets they could also have matching bracelets to show their strong friendship. Mr. Lewis could have much standard typical white shirt and black trousers suit to add to that mundane quality of school but I seeing as the role has a Henry Barthes from Detachment vibes have a formal suit could make the scene with Layla and him more calming, maybe just using a tie would help have both to help contrast each-over. With the Mother who is seen as blunt and busy would make sense for her outfit to represent that having bleak no color clothes would show the she isn’t a person to fool around with and doesn’t have the time for anything.

Sound: Tyler Mitchell     

Conducting extensive research and developing empathy for the distinct experiences of neurodivergent characters are essential when creating a sound design for a movie. Discover more about neurodiversity to develop a more sympathetic and real soundscape by seeing anxiety and panic from their point of view. Put an emphasis on character-centric sound design, enhancing or warping noises to represent the character's state of anxiety and using audio to depict how the character sees the environment.

Increase discomfort by using methods that create tension, such as loud noises, discordant music. Create recurrent auditory signals for terror by using sound symbolism to link particular sounds or motifs with the character's emotional state. Sound effects should be gradually amplified to create tension in the story and reflect the character's growing fear. Select or write music that connects with the character on an emotional level, making it easier for the listener to relate to their struggle. Change the sound viewpoint to reflect the character's mental condition by conveying distorted perceptions via close-up, faraway, muted, or amplified effects. Keep lines of communication open with the creative team to make sure your sound design fits the neurodivergent character's vision for the Film.

The process of creating the sound design for a film with neurodivergent characters is intricate and requires a deep dive into research as well as the development of empathy in order to accurately reflect their distinct experiences. My inspiration for crafting a powerful soundtrack comes from a deep grasp of neurodiversity and a dedication to capturing panic and anxiety from the viewpoint of the characters.

Numerous studies on neurodivergent people have shown a wide range of experiences, sensitivities, and coping strategies. The sound design builds upon this exploration to provide a more complex portrayal of the individuals' emotional environments. I want to improve the auditory experience and increase the audience's empathy by exploring the subtleties of how neurodivergent people see and navigate the world.

An important part of the sound design process is giving character-centric aspects a lot of attention. In order to replicate the neurodivergent characters' internalised distress, sounds are

manipulated and warped. The goal is to produce a sound design that accurately captures their emotional journey and draws the listener into their own viewpoint.

Multiple strategies, such as the deliberate use of loud noises and discordant music, will be used to increase the level of discomfort experienced by the audience. These components will be subtly incorporated to create tension and reflect the characters' internal conflict. Using sound symbolism to provide recurring auditory cues for terrifying situations will be an effective way to link particular sounds or motifs to the characters' emotional states.

Additionally, the story's increasing tension will be mirrored by the steady amplification of sound effects, which will give a dynamic portrayal of the characters' mounting terror. A deep awareness of emotional resonance will guide the choice and arrangement of the music, enabling it to function as a moving means of establishing an audience connection with the characters' hardships.

Working with the sound viewpoint to reflect the characters' mental states is an important part of the sound design process. In order to fully immerse the spectator in the characters' subjective experiences, techniques such as skewed perceptions through close-up, afar, muted, or exaggerated effects may be used.

It is critical that you keep the lines of communication open with the creative team during this process. Working together guarantees that the sound design satisfies the neurodivergent characters' vision for the film, resulting in a seamless and genuine auditory experience that deeply affects viewers. By using such a thorough approach, the sound design will not only enhance the story but also help create a more sympathetic and inclusive representation of neurodivergent people in films.

After the initial test sequence, the practical side of sound design was using the Zoom F4 mixer to its full potential. While using the boom microphone, I tried to record a wide variety of noises that would heighten the unease in the film. This was an exacting process that needed close attention to detail to make sure that every subtlety of sound that contributed to the desired outcome was recorded.

I went to the foley room after the field recording to further edit the noises that I had recorded. To isolate particular audio parts during the editing process, this step was essential. These sounds were recorded in a controlled setting, which gave me the freedom to adjust each component separately. This quiet let me experiment and create the right emotional effect by allowing me to manipulate the soundscape in a subtle way.

There were two reasons for the purposeful solo recording of these sounds in the foley room. First of all, it made it easier to isolate and improve each component separately, guaranteeing accuracy and clarity in the finished blend. Second, this method gave me a creative space to play around with the sounds, using a variety of approaches to convey the tension and discomfort necessary for the experience of the neurodivergent persona.

The meticulously captured noises served as the foundation for creating a dynamic and moving audio landscape during the processing process. With the help of the Zoom F4 mixer, I was able to control every sound source, varying loudness, adding effects, and creating a discomfiting symphony that flows naturally with the story.

This rigorous approach to sound design demonstrates a dedication to realism and humanity while also guaranteeing a high degree of technical accuracy. Through study and practical sound design, I immersed myself in the neurodivergent perspective in an effort to produce a visceral auditory experience for the listener. Throughout this process, working closely with the creative team was crucial to making sure that the final sound design complemented the neurodivergent character's vision for the film.

Although a small cast, our character's' choices enable us to tell a story that is both captivating, yet compelling, that combines a unique blend of drama, tension and heart, with a story that will resonate with audiences of all ages. By supporting our film, you'll not only be part of an exciting cinematic journey but also have the opportunity to make a positive impact in the world of filmmaking and storytelling.

Editor: Thomas Dunne

For the film A Fish Out of Water Together, the director and I will strive to realise the vision and motivation behind the movie, as well as to attain the overall aesthetic of the film. To get the desired look, the film will require a significant number of visual effects, according to the director. I've been experimenting with several effects to help me get this look. After hearing what the director has to say, I will collaborate with the dop to get the look they want for the film, which includes grading and lut choices. decisions in that regard to help set up the soundstage for this film, I will also be collaborating closely with the sound department.

As an editor, I have gained a better understanding of the director's goals by paying close attention to their creative vision. I gained a lot of knowledge from the test shoot, worked hard to solve these obstacles, and gave the director some recommendations on how I would edit this film. As far as I can tell, the purpose of this visually and aurally strong film is to convey the main character's feelings. This presents a significant creative challenge for me, but I've prepared an immense number of various effects and templates that will enable me to accomplish the style direction the director has decided on. I've had more time to prepare and conquer any obstacles I may face while jurying the film's cut, and I've also been able to reassure the director that their artistic vision is accomplished. To further elaborate, I will be on location during the entire filming to assist the director with any continuity problems or potential additional shots we may get on location, one of which being the notion of using Snorri cam.

Director of photography
I will be collaborating closely with the director of photography on this film's cut to ensure that their vision for the film's creative appearance is realised. This will cover their colour scheme and lut selection in a stylistic manner. This is very significant since it will aid me in the editing process when it comes to lut selections and expected colours for each scene, matching the tone of the narrative and adding a deeper level of visual appeal that makes the film more visually appealing and cinematic. This will also help me when I work around the goals the director established for the picture's aesthetic. I will be working on these aspects in addition to all the creative elements from the dop to get the required look. The film's overall storyline depends heavily on these powerful visual scenes not just make the film look good but to aid the narrative of the film.

After discussing with the director, I've learned that the use of sound is crucial to the storyline of the movie. As a result, I'll be collaborating closely with sound and sound design to achieve the desired tone for the film. I will be using all the sound samples and effects that have been given to me that either being foley, wild track, Atmos or external audio effects to help me create a unique sound stage each scene of this film. In order to give an extra layer to the film's story and integrate it with the visual work, I want to create a unique soundscape by utilising the feedback and sounds that have been provided and layering them effectively.

Thank you!

Thank you for taking the time to understand our project and what we hope to achieve with the raised funds. I hope that you are able to envision our story, and perhaps, if you can, help support this project - by donating

Thank you again.

Sofia Nicodemo                                                                                         Jamila Ahmed                                                                                               Luke Roberts                                                                                                  Niall Brennan                                                                                                                                    Tyler Mitchell                                                                                             Thomas Dunne                                                                                  

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