A magical realist drama inspired by Celtic Selkie folklore, where a young girl must choose between her ambitions or her mother's freedom.
by Lara Karam in Bournemouth, England, United Kingdom
But then she stops, dropping the white dress
as her fingers brush against something different.
She looks into the trunk, and slowly roots for it.
Then pulls it out.
Sealskin is a magical realist short film inspired by Celtic folklore and feminist retellings of fairytales. Selkies were creatures that appeared as seals in the water but took a human form on land by taking off their sealskin coats. If a human stole their sealskin, they wouldn’t be able to go back to the water and would be trapped on land until it was rediscovered.
Our film pivots around the moment when our heroine, Tara, finds a sealskin hidden amongst her father’s possessions, and must decide whether she can use it herself to escape a fate she’s been thrown into, or give back the gift that was taken from her mother.
Caught between the water and the land, the strong ties of Tara's environment are a metaphor for her predicament. The land with its red ferns and brown houses is a place of restriction and expectation. The blue sea and white cliffs, and the boat on the horizon represent a dream of freedom and adventure.
The sealskin is a tether to both, but which will she choose?
There’s so much competition between women, especially those of different generations. Mothers are rarely seen as individuals past their duty of nurturing their children, and adventurous young girls often need a knight in shining armour to help them reach their goals in the movies.
We set out to tell a story in which two women recognise their differences and realise that they have both suffered from the same limits of their society and its expectations, and ultimately empower each other themselves.
Sealskin provides the opportunity to dig deep into our imagination in order to create a magically realistic atmosphere that can help us communicate a universal and timeless story. Starting with a rural 18th century period setting, we looked at the Irish seaside culture as well as their folkloric tales as guidance to start creating our own world for Sealskin.
The budget for production design will be invested in the creation and building of props to fit organically in the film’s visuals: fishing equipment, maps and practical lights as well as lanterns, guiding rocks and sails. This will help define all the details that accompany our beautiful natural locations achieving a realistic yet fantastical representation of a necessary and magical story.
Greatly influenced by 19th century Autochromes, an early form of colour photography, and Pictorialism artists, we aim to bring similar qualities to our film’s images.
We plan to saturate the frame with texture, making it visually tactile, allowing you, the audience, to dive into our cinematic world, by using naturalistic components such as embers of a coal fire and water in its many matters of state.
We want our locations to become yet another character in the film. By implementing a monochromatic colour palette our characters will blend in with their backgrounds, indicating the entrapment they find themselves in, only to discover their faces through shallow depth of field in close ups, allowing their emotions to emerge to the surface, just as they find their freedom.
Writer & Director | Daisy Leigh-Phippard
Daisy is currently studying directing and screenwriting at the Bournemouth Film School, and is a freelance film and book critic in her free time. Having been raised on fairy tales and mythology, she finds her stories strongly influenced by their tendency to address political and moral issues with magical imagery and coded symbols. Sealskin is the culmination of this along with her love of headstrong girls, Irish folklore and the sea.
Producer | Anna Venuto
Born and raised in a small town in southern Italy, Anna moved to Bournemouth at the age of 18 armed with a passion for filmmaking and determination. Since then she's been working on several productions and is keen on using her experience to bring Sealskin to life. The film's message of breaking through the pressure of expectations resonates strongly with her and is why Anna is looking forward to making Sealskin the best film it can be.
Co-Producer | Lara Karam
Raised in an Turkish Cypriot household, Lara grew up surrounded by a mix of cultures and traditions, which has influenced her work-method as co-producer of Sealskin. She is currently studying Directing and Producing at Bournemouth film school. With a passion for Screenwriting and feminist film, Lara loves Sealskin for its strong female voice and perspective, and looks forward to seeing it come to life.
Director of Photography | Julia Kacalak
With photography as her first passion, Julia has always strived to feed her images with narrative, thus the transition to film came to her naturally. While pursuing a career as a Cinematographer, she is eager to learn the craft from every opportunity she gets. She aims to bring her visual sensitivity into the film by using pertinent framing and lighting to enhance the characters’ journey throughout the story and create a compelling world around them.
Production Designer | Níger Tous
In 2001 the release of “The Lord of the Rings” shaped Niger's life forever, shining a bright light on fantasy. As he grew up and realised that magic only existed in movies, he soon discovered that the film industry was the right place for him. Sealskin provided the opportunity to put all his experience and passion into practice, after being drawn to the project's use of fantasy elements grounded in reality. Niger's desire to create a beautiful film only matches his passion to tell such an extremely important story, necessary for our generation.
Sound Designer | Marta Anderson
Since coming from Estonia to study film at the Bournemouth Film School, Marta has worked on many short films, documentaries and animations as a sound designer and mixer. Sealskin's story drew her eye because of its empowering themes and narrative. She can't wait to work with her team to create intimate, powerful, and enhancing sound design for the film, to bring Tara's story closer to the audience.
Editor | Elli Redman
Growing up in Bristol, Elli's love for film was fuelled by watching old Jane Austen adaptations, finding little interest in a soaked Colin Firth and more in the artistry of the production. She hopes to bring that romantic period vibe to the film. Over her years at Bournemouth Film School, she has grown into a creative editor. She has edited a variety of short films and is looking forward to bringing her signature aesthetic to the world of Sealskin.
1st Assistant Director | Ben Harrison
Ben is an aspiring Assistant Director, in his final year studying at the Bournemouth Film School. He has worked on a number of feature and short films in this area, and hopes his experience will be useful in aiding the creative team bring Sealskin's amazing story to life.
Costume Designers | Kate Turner & Amy Barnes
Kate is an avid researcher of fables and folklore. Having learnt about their roots and powerful symbolism, it is this texture and depth she hopes to bring to costume design. Kate is fascinated at how every generation reimagines these tales, bringing them back to life for them to be passed on to the next, and it is being a part of this evolution that drew her to Sealskin.
On the right we have Amy. She first became interested in costume when she was twelve and chooses her projects based the emotional connection to the characters she feels. She wanted to be a part of Sealskin as it reflects her relationship with her own mother, and the idea of finding your freedom resonates deeply for her.
Camera Operator & Researcher | João Almeida
Ever since he went fishing for the first time with his dad when he was 6, João has known that he was being trained to eventually work on Sealskin. Having worked on other projects with fisherman, and coming from a Portuguese fishing town himself, he feels like his next step is to master and perfect his seal bark. Bringing more of a documentary perspective to this project, he hopes to make it more cogent and a worthwhile experience for all.
Sealskin has been in development since May 2018. So far Tara's story has been coming together slowly but surely, and it's almost ready to be told, but we need the right resources to do so and your help will allow us to get them.
We plan to use our budget to cast the perfect people to be the face of our story, together with period costumes and meticulous production design. But there's a lot behind the scenes that is necessary for the realisation of a film: catering to feed the cast and crew for the shooting week, stunning locations and a green room to rest in between takes, travel costs and accommodation are all part of the process. That's why every little helps, and we'll make sure to use such resources so that Sealskin comes alive in the best possible way.
This is a film for anyone who has ever felt trapped by expectations of who they should be. It is for anyone who has wanted to return the unconditional love of another person. It is for the women and girls who have been taught not to see others as competition rather than allies, and want to change the way we look at it.
In order for us to make this film, we need YOUR support. Your donations, no matter the size, will help us to bring our vision to life and improve production value. Our ultimate aim is to do Sealskin's story and message justice, and with your help, we believe we can!
Another way to help would be to spread the word. Please follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, and get involved by liking, commenting or sharing our posts.
Much love and many thanks,
the Sealskin Crew
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