We are raising funds to make the short film 'Dear Claudia', a beautiful story about the power of imagination in times of darkness.
by Charlotte Couture in London, Greater London, United Kingdom
Dear Claudia is a short film that explores child mental health and the power our imaginations have in helping us to survive turmoil. It's being made by Seven Light Films, who make stories that show both the complexity and universality of humanity.
It’s the Christmas school break and Esme hasn’t left her home. She spends her time playing on her computer, obsessing over her health, and avoiding her parents. But it’s fine because she's good at keeping her own company, and she can always talk to her best friend Sara, the family’s housekeeper.
When Esme is distraught to hear that Sara will be leaving them soon, she becomes aware of a superpower within her.
WHY IS OUR STORY IMPORTANT?
Dear Claudia shines a light on a rarely talked about subject - affluent neglect.
Affluent neglect refers to the neglect experienced by children in wealthy families. Often this neglect can be more difficult to spot, as the type of neglect experienced by children and young people is usually emotional.
It explores this important subject through a teenager with a powerful imagination - something that is common in young people who experience neglect.
‘A child going through horrific circumstances such as neglect or abuse can do very little to change or escape their hardship. And children are naturally imaginative. So, it stands to reason that the one way a child can escape their trauma is by creating a fantasy life to ease the pain of their real life: They create a world where they control the outcomes and they don’t have to feel afraid or hurt.’
Dear Claudia is proudly being supported by The Benjamin Foundation:
"The aim of our work is to provide wellbeing support for children, young people and families facing a wide range of challenges. The Benjamin Foundation are therefore pleased to support the production of short film Dear Claudia, and its aims to raise awareness of children’s mental health.
Dear Claudia can provide the opportunity to deliver greater attention to this important social issue, and we look forward to viewing the film in its final product."
DIRECTOR & WRITER / Charlotte Couture
Charlotte is the founder and director of Seven Light Films. Her directorial debut was Different Day, which won Best British Short at Cornwall Film Festival (patron Mike Leigh), the Jury's Choice Award at The South London Film Festival, and was nominated for Best Film and Best Director at the BIFA-qualifying Unrestricted View. It was also selected for numerous film festivals around the world. Her latest film, Rose, had its world premiere at the Cheltenham International Film Festival, alongside the UK premiere of Ken Loach’s (allegedly) final film, The Old Oak. It will next be screening at the BIFA-qualifying Crystal Palace International Film Festival. Her first film, O, My Friend, which she wrote and produced, was nominated for Best Film at the Wales International Film Festival. She is currently developing a feature film and several other short films.
Charlotte is a member of Directors UK and Women in Film & TV. She has been accepted onto the prestigious Directors UK Inspire Mentoring Programme for 2024-25.
PRODUCER / Tom Scurr
Tom founded Thunder Pebble Media, whose clients include the Royal Shakespeare Company, Marshmallow Laser Feast and Coventry City of Culture. He has worked in television and film for over ten years as an actor and producer on shows such as Letters From Drancy, Dream, Secret Invasion (Marvel), The Flatshare, Breeders, and Hollyoaks. Further collaborations include the micro series Somebody Had To with comedian Joe Tracini, which garnered over 2 million views online. Tom was creative producer on Different Day and Rose. He is currently developing several film projects.
CINEMATOGRAPHER / Guido Cavaciuti
As Director of Photography, Guido's work includes the award-winning series 1Life, Different Day, Rose, Paper Boy, and Absolution. He was recently camera operator on Comandante which premiered at Venice Film Festival. Guido has previously worked in the camera department of many high-profile feature films including 1917, Bohemian Rhapsody, The King and Star Wars: Episode VIII - The Last Jedi.
MUSIC / David Atkins
PRODUCTION DESIGNER / Freya Willetts
Dear Claudia is a fantasy-drama about child mental health and the power of imagination.
Through our humorous and candid protagonist, it explores the role our minds can play in helping us to survive turmoil, and the intangible connections we can have with others.
The film will subtly combine genres, a fantasy drama but with thriller tones. There’s a deep unease around Esme’s home and her parents. Slow, steady camera movements as we follow Esme around her home will capture this for the viewer, who will perhaps feel like they themselves are following Esme. The parents are dark figures in her life - either only heard (the Father), or barely seen (the Mother). When the Mother is present, she either exists out of frame, or only seen from certain, distant angles.
Set in the peak of a rough winter, the harshness of nature will be strongly evident, despite Esme spending most of her time indoors. Esme’s home is not the protective space that it should be, and the dramatic countryside setting itself reflects Esme’s psychological alienation.
Sara offers Esme a lightness and together they take up space in Esme’s life, literally and metaphorically. Sara’s religion is met with Esme’s challenge, conveying how two people can be from different worlds but capable of connection and understanding. We never see Sara interact with the parents - so it’s almost like she only exists in Esme’s world.
Esme uses her computer game and books to detach from her reality, two common forms of escapism - but these are ultimately not enough for her. She has bigger dreams and it’s her curiosity, empathy and emotional intelligence that offer her a route out. Self discovery propels her forward.
Whether or not Esme’s superpower is real is up for the audience to decide - but what we do know is that either way, she has been able to use the power of her mind to not only survive her situation, but escape it too.
WHY DO WE NEED YOUR SUPPORT?
We are working to raise the remainder of the budget for Dear Claudia.
As filmmakers, we are passionate about storytelling and believe wholly in the power film can have to transform hearts and minds.
We simply cannot tell this story without the sponsorships from generous people such as yourselves.
Dear Claudia is proudly being supported by The Benjamin Foundation, who will help us to use the film to spread awareness and engage with audiences we wouldn't normally reach.
An investment in Dear Claudia is a commitment to film as an art form but also as a medium to tell urgent and important stories about social issues.
All funds raised will be used to cover the costs of all areas of production including equipment hire, catering and subsistence, travel expenses, and production design.
Any amount of sponsorship will truly go a long way and help us to achieve our goal of making a beautifully moving and impactful film.
We are grateful for your support.
Team Dear Claudia x
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