Stinging Nettles - Short Film
With 60% of funding secured, we're so excited for Stinging Nettles, our upcoming 15-minute short film which has two goals:
1) conclude a trilogy of female-led short films by writer/director Jerusha West, which serves as a thematic proof of concept for an upcoming feature project in early development.
2) create a dialogue around this film’s themes to act as a catalyst for cultural change.
In order to reach these goals, we are looking for additional partners to help raise the remaining 40% of financing and shoot in April 2024.
In the midst of a woodland, 16-year-old Iris explores her attraction to an older man. Their passion turns into a dangerous power play when Iris must indulge his cravings with a humiliating performance that leaves her questioning what it is she truly desires.
Stinging Nettles is a psychological and visceral story of a young girl’s formative experience navigating sexual attraction and romantic desire, and the sting that comes with the realisation that it’s nothing like she hoped for.
Over the course of a Spring day we see a young girl’s fantasy progressively lose its ground through an older man’s manipulation and the unbalanced power dynamics that come with it. The traditional tale of older-man-meets-teenage-girl will be told through a contemporary lens where social media is part of the predatory pursuit.
The Vision & Why It Needs to Be Told
Stinging Nettles is a film that breathes new life into familiar territory, drawing from both the physical and psychological ways that misogynistic violence exists in our culture. The story is informed by director/writer Jerusha’s personal experiences, and those of countless others. The film is inspired by both personal and collective experiences and aims to shed light on these pervasive issues.
We want the audience to experience this raw and unsettling story through the victim’s eyes. The eroticised image of a schoolgirl that Mark (the older man) fantasises about and the aspects of play-adulthood that Iris toys with stand in blunt contrast to what she physically experiences in the woodland.
This story is told through Iris’ perspective, a multilayered character navigating teenage infatuation and desire, as we watch her fantasy progressively lose its ground through Mark’s abuse and manipulation. The audience will experience the contrast between the rush of what Iris thinks is a discovery of love and desire and the harrowing, humiliating outcome inflicted by her abuser.
We believe this perspective will result in a fresh coming-of-age film; one where the victim isn’t solely defined by their experience with an abuser. The predatory figure in the film not only abuses power and age but also exploits privilege and social class, traditionally shielding people like him for any accountability. In today's cultural landscape, this theme resonates even more strongly, as recent instances involving celebrities and powerful figures from a specific social class highlight the disturbingly rife nature of this reality.
Your support for Stinging Nettles will help bring awareness to the film’s themes and lay the groundwork for a feature film that explores this subject matter more profoundly. To bring our story to life and move into production, we need to raise an additional £8.5k, on top of the 60% funding already secured. This crucial funding will go towards:
- Camera Rental & Film Development: We will be using 35mm film, a choice that plays a pivotal role in achieving the film’s rich and striking aesthetic, lending itself to the evolving natural light and visceral realism.
- Talent: We are so excited to be working with wonderful actors who are committed to this project and Jerusha's vision.
- Crew: Supporting our incredible crew who have been working tirelessly behind the scenes, many of whom have worked together with Jerusha on the previous two short films in this trilogy.
- Locations: Securing the permits for shooting locations that are crucial to the backstory of our film.
The Team - Talent
Ed Speleers (MARK) is an English actor and producer whose recent credits include Jack Crusher in the third season of Star Trek: Picard (2023) and as Rhys Montrose in the fourth season of You (2023). He is known for playing antagonist Stephen Bonnet in the TV series Outlander and Jimmy Kent in the TV series Downton Abbey.
Ksenia Devriendt (IRIS) is an emerging actress who had her breakout role in Jessica Hasuner’s Club Zero which premiered in competition at the 76th Cannes Film Festival last year.
Caroline Polachek - Featured Track We are so excited to feature a track by Caroline Polachek who earned her first Grammy nomination last year. Her collaborators include Blood Orange, Charli XCX and Beyoncé. She is currently nominated for the 2024 Brit Awards' International Artist of the Year, alongside Taylor Swift and Lana Del Rey.
The Team Behind The Film
Jerusha West (Writer/Director) is a British artist and filmmaker. Her recent short film, Sea Holly, executive-produced by Ameenah Ayub Allen (known for producing Rocks, Ali & Ava and Typist Artist Pirate King), has recently entered the festival circuit, premiering at British Shorts in Berlin in January. Jerusha's debut short, Solidago, achieved recognition at multiple festivals, was featured on multiple online platforms and chosen to appear in the editor's choice section of BFI’s Sight & Sound magazine. In addition to Stinging Nettles, Jerusha is currently developing another film piece supported by Pinky Ghundale, long-term producer of Academy and Turner Prize Award winning artist and filmmaker Steve McQueen, funded by Arts Council England. A graduate of The Slade in 2017, Jerusha's work has been exhibited in galleries such as The Saatchi Gallery and Belmacz Gallery. With a professional background in acting, Jerusha has also performed in theatres across the UK, including the Leeds Grand, Chichester and The Oxford Playhouse.
Sydney Oberfeld (Producer) is a creative producer based in UK. Originally from Montreal, she studied at The New School and went on to work in production on several feature films, including Isabel Sandoval’s Lingua Franca. Sydney associate produced Edem Kelman’s Film4 funded short Express and co-produced Michael Mante’s BFI NETWORK funded short Small Hours. Her film It Happened At Home premiered in competition at the London Short Film Festival in January 2023. She is currently works across development and production at Good Chaos (Triangle of Sadness, Quo Vadis Aida) where she has credits on films such Jessica Hausner’s Club Zero, which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in 2023, and Balthasar Kormakur’s upcoming Touch distributed by Focus Features.
Luke Tierney (Producer) learnt and honed his craft in the music video / commercial world. There he won awards creating music videos for artists such as FKA Twigs, The Arctic Monkeys and Missy Elliott. His narrative journey includes a variety of shorts which have screened at various BAFTA and Oscar qualifying festivals. Recently, Luke’s short Hideous (directed by Yann Gonzalez) premiered at Cannes (The International Critics’ Week) and was nominated for the Queer Palm award. It is now screening on MUBI. Luke produced Hungry Ghosts for Channel 4’s Random Acts, which premiered at Slamdance before screening on Channel 4. He also produced Chronos, an NFI funded short and co-production with Norwegian producer Andrea Berentsen Ottmar (The Worst Person In The World).
Fionn Greger (Executive Producer) has over two decades of experience in features and short-form content. He worked as the Head of Production and Post at Amazon Europe for the past seven years, specialising in short-form projects. In addition to this, he produced the award-winning Irish feature film Twice Shy in 2016. Recently, he worked as a production consultant on Kneecap, which celebrated its world premiere at Sundance in January 2024.
Morgan K. Spencer (DOP) works across narrative, artist film, fashion and music. His recent work includes a collaboration with Director Onyeka Igwe on a BFI London Film Festival-selected short and a featured exhibition at South London Gallery by artist Keith Piper, to be screened at Tate Britain later this year. Other projects include working with Musician Yussef Dayes on a live video for his upcoming album Black Classical Music Familia, a four-part global campaign for Bumble with writer Huw Lemmy, and a film starring Ben Whishaw, currently selected for BFI Flare, Edinburgh, and New York film festivals. Morgan's diverse portfolio extends to collaborations with Adidas, Steven Graham for a collection shot in Iceland, and Gwendoline Christie for Perfect Magazine, alongside his regular commercial clients. Morgan previously worked for over a decade working on major productions like Star Wars Episode VIII, Spectre, and Mission Impossible. Morgan collaborated on Jerusha’s previous two shorts, Solidago and Sea Holly.
Catriona Delbridge (Editor) has worked in the cutting rooms on dozens of feature films, including Slumdog Millionaire, Shaun Of The Dead, Hot Fuzz and The Descent. She has recently cut the short films Ceres and Wavering, which have both found success at domestic and international film festivals, and cut a feature for Neil Marshall. To complement her editing, Catriona has also worked as a pre-selector and programmer at some of the UK’s most respected film festivals, including LSFF, Underwire and Sheffield Doc Fest. She is currently a member of BAFTA CONNECT and an Associate Member of the BFE Guild. Catriona collaborated on Jerusha’s previous two shorts, Solidago and Sea Holly.
Georgia Topley (Casting Director) has over 6 years at BAFTA-winning Des Hamilton Casting, known for Top Boy, Jojo Rabbit, High Life, and has recently launched her independent career. Her credits include Vesper, Ordinary Love, and series like Trigger Point and Ten Pound Poms. Short films include Diddly Squat and Simon Is a Prick. Currently involved in projects like The Yellow Tie, Girls Hugging Their Fathers, Wind and the Shadow, and Appliance. Georgia is also casting for upcoming films such as Truly Naked, Wolf Note, and Lucia. Her experience extends to series for Netflix, Paramount, Apple TV+, The BBC, and ITV, including the BAFTA-winning Top Boy and the upcoming Time Bandits by Taika Waititi on Apple TV+.
Sophie Daniel (Costume Design) works across film, tv and commercials. Sophie is influenced by her fashion & textiles design training and has a unique sensitivity to color and fabrication. Passionate about film, psychology and sustainable practices, Sophie is dedicated to celebrating individuality and storytelling through her work. Recent work includes costume design for the indie feature film Life Hack, scheduled for release this year. Sophie has also contributed to costume design for short films commissioned by BFI NETWORK and BBC Wales + Beacons X BFI NETWORK Cymru. Additionally, she worked as a Crowd Standby, assisting Lynsey Moore on Channel 4's The Curse II. Sophie collaborated on Jerusha’s previous first short film, Solidago.
Rana Fadavi (Production Design) is an Iranian production designer and award winning artist based between London and Paris. She completed her scenography MA in Strasbourg, at Hear in 2016. She then worked at Issey Miyake fashion house in Paris before moving to London in 2018. She has worked with companies such as Vogue, L’Oréal, Google, Lacoste, Academy Films, Untold Studios, Agile Films, Pulse, Somesuch, Media Monks, Knucklehead, Fox digital, Rattling Stick, Pundersons Gardens, Greatcoat, Hypebeast, Nina Ricci, Issey Miyake, Microsoft surface, Tara Jarmon, Centre Pompidou and Sadler’s Wells.
Sampo (Composer) Sampo is a composer based in London and a long-term collaborator of Jerusha’s.
Abi Kessel’s (Intimacy Coordinator) has worked across productions supported by the BBC/BFI, Warner Bros., Netflix, 20th Digital Studios, Hulu, Disney+, Film 4, Noho Films, Creative UK/Sky Arts & TV and Acendant Films.
We are so grateful to be partnering with Goldcrest Films, the production house behind acclaimed films such as 1917, James Bond, Chariots of Fire, Jurassic World, Maleficent, Kingsman and Asteroid City. Goldcrest also worked with Jerusha on her two previous productions, Solidago and Sea Holly.
Distribution Strategy + Ambitions
Our aim is to premiere Stinging Nettles at one of the following festivals in 2024/2025:
- Cannes Semaine de La Critique
- BFI London Film Festival
- Berlin International Film Festival
- Rotterdam IFF
These festivals have a track record of propelling emerging filmmaking talent toward feature film opportunities. Following its premiere, our film would then travel through the festival circuit both nationally and internationally. Upon completion of the festival screenings, we intend to release the film online in collaboration with a streaming service such as MUBI or Canal+. Our goal is to pave the way for the film and our team as an emerging group of British filmmakers into the realm of feature films.
Want to get involved?
We have a range of rewards available that you can explore to the right of our campaign page.
A donation of any amount will do a great deal to help us see this film come to life – we are incredibly grateful for your support and involvement!
Thank you for reading!