A long distance couple come to terms with their relationship on a trip to scatter the ashes of a dead pet.
Filming doubt in a relationship
Chester Briscall-Harvey, Director
"Going to university can be such a strange and confusing time. Long distance or not, every relationship has doubt, especially when there are big decisions to be made. Suddenly you are living two very different lives, and something has to give. Ultimately, after spending so much time away from each other, people change. ‘Exhausted’ tries to strike that balance between a relationship that is very familiar and also painfully detached.
Similar to my own experience on a road-trip, I wanted to convey a very strange combination of spectacular landscapes and pretty bleak conversation. Tracking down farmers so we could get permission to shoot in rural Scotland is about as hard as you’d expect.
[In the film], there’s a lot of dithering and miscommunication before James, the main protagonist, finally reaches a conclusion. I thought a film taking place within the confines of a car would be an interesting way to force the characters to talk about their relationship.
I wanted to use the camera to emphasize this emotional distance in their relationship by shooting the characters in separate frames as they’re trying to figure out their feelings. As the conversation becomes more intense, we move inside the car as if a child witnessing their parents arguing from the back seat.
Although it was difficult trying to squeeze the crew in the back, it was important to be as close as possible to really get inside the characters’ heads and feel their thoughts. Once the ball drops and James lets slip more of his doubt, we cut to a wide and finally see them both in the same frame as they confront the end of their relationship, together. Directing Reece and Domi was such a pleasure and their performances do so much for the film despite very limited rehearsals. Although it’s not necessarily happy, a weight is definitely lifted once he speaks his mind. The score by Jaime Rosso guides you through the melancholy feeling on-screen and the actors do a fantastic job conveying their bleak situation.
Jo Sutherland catching every word in the backseat of the car set.
"Despite the freezing November weather and spending most of my time curled up and out of sight in the backseat of the car recording the actors in front, Exhausted was such a fun-loving shoot and full of enormously talented and kindhearted people."
Jo Sutherland, Sound Recordist
Right to left, Chester Briscall-Harvey, Elías Nader and Charlie O'Brien (Assistant Camera) on set during the close-up car scene.
"Working as DP on 'Exhausted' was a special challenge. We had to figure out how to visually juxtapose the claustrophobic interior of the car with the wide expense of Traprain Law. That, and the realization that filming outdoors in Scotland in December will always be painful were the most memorable moments of the shoot."
Elías Nader, Director of Photography
‘Exhausted was filmed close to the time of the 2019 general election, when there was a lot of talk of ‘breaking-up of unions’. It did offer some humorous parallels, which I couldn’t resist writing into the script through the car radio.
This was my first time directing a short film with a crew. Getting up the hill on the second day was a task in itself and at the top we were greeted by a dramatic-looking herd of ponies! I still kick myself that I didn’t incorporate them into the film somehow. It was a magical albeit tough experience but we’re a tight-knit group and, as a fourth year student, spending two days away from Edinburgh in East Lothian felt like a holiday. Hopefully we can all, like James, learn to communicate a little better in future relationships."
The full cast and crew of University of Edinburgh students on set.
"As the producer on 'Exhausted', I had the pleasure of piecing the film together and watching Chester’s beautiful vision come to life. Despite being the coldest I might have ever been, I’d do anything to be back on set with the super talented cast and crew who made the film a reality (though next time I might pack some more hand warmers!)."
Andrew Michael, Producer
Enjoy the film in full below
In Association with Edinburgh College of Art
Starring Reece Montague as James and Domi Ucar as Jessie.
Radio Host - Jack Allen
Radio Caller - Thomas Hamill
Writer and Director - Chester Briscall-Harvey
Producer - Andrew Michael
Director of Photography - Elías Nader
Sound Recordist - Jo Sutherland
Assistant Director - Oscar Simmons
Assistant Camera - Charlie O'Brien
Script Supervisor - Andrew Michael
Edit and Grade - Chester Briscall-Harvey
Composer - Jaime Rosso
Catering and Support - Ina Morken
Poster Design - Oscar Briscall-Harvey