Someone’s made a short film set in Cindies and it’s brilliant
Give it a watch
A year on from his Editorship of this very paper, Patrick Brooks has been busy.
Amidst the many messages telling me how it was all so much better in his day and asking when we’re going to run something as good as “Best Bums” he sent this short film, set and filmed in Cambridge, titled simply “Last Night”.
Obviously, I wanted to discuss it further.
“This is a very sensitive issue you’re dealing with. It must have been hard trying to tackle it head on.”
“Oh god yeah. I mean it’s hard enough trying to build the trust of the cast and get everyone comfortable enough to completely bare their souls under timed conditions, but here I’m also saying ‘um, can you like, get naked for me too… and then…’
“I was shitting myself, but I figured I’d have to just go for it. My producer Emile read this thing about how a director used to make his actors stare into each other’s eyes before they did a really awkward sex scene, so we made Rose and Jack (who play Cate and James in the film) do that before we did it. They’d never even met before filming. I was incredibly impressed.”
“Were you ever tempted not to run the sex scene at all?”
“I did have an alternate ending without the scene where it’s more about the betrayal of the two friends, but it just felt like such a cowardly way out. I knew I only wanted to avoid it because it was making me uncomfortable and that that was, if anything, a reason to just do it – especially because this isn’t fantasy.
This kind of stuff literally happens in our colleges all the time. There was a Varsity survey last year that showed that hundreds of female students get raped during their time here. It’s just absolutely unbelievable so we don’t really deal with it, at all.”
“So who did you want to see the film? Did you want people to be challenged or victims to be consoled?”
“Anyone and everyone. We should be challenged – these rapists don’t just come out of nowhere, they’re not an insignificant minority of us.
“As true as it is that everyone probably knows someone who’s been raped, it’s almost certainly also true that we all know someone who’s raped someone, even if we’d never realise.
“And they’re probably really nice and fun. It’s this that actually really freaks me out, and which really drove me to make the film – it’s so easy to go “oh, rapists, they’ve got to be completely evil with soulless shark eyes right?”
“But they’re probably not. They’re probably just a combination of a normal regular self-entitled cambridge wannabe lad who doesn’t really understand consent, gets a girl too drunk and takes things too far. He probably tells himself afterwards that she hadn’t said no and goes into complete denial about it, because he’s not at all that different from you or I.
“That all sounds really weird when I say it, but I think that’s because the “oh they’re evil monsters” narrative is so comforting and seductive. The idea that we’re just a single (utterly hideous and unthinkable) moral lapse away from most people committing sexual assault is terrifying.”
“I’m really not saying that the fact that rapists are probably “normal” makes them any less despicable
“I’m not trying to condone or make them more sympathetic or anything, which is why I didn’t really give the rapist character much of a backstory. I didn’t want us to understand him or empathise with him, because that would be trivialising what Cate goes through.”
“So why does James do it?”
“Honestly, I just don’t know. I think if I did know I’d worry about myself. I think he does it because he can.
And because he’s been taught his whole life that he should get everything he wants.
And because Cate was so up for it, and again he’s been taught his whole life that if a girl kisses you, you are entitled to have sex with her.”
“Why make a film, not write a play or an article?”
“There’ve been lots of articles – Francesca Ebel’s piece last year, for example, is absolutely harrowing and just probably the bravest thing I’ve ever read. I didn’t feel I could add much there.
“The theatre scene here is so huge, I feel like film gets pushed to the side. The film is also set entirely in Cambridge – in Cindies no less – it would have been kind of perverse to not use the actual locations.”
“How long did it take to make?”
“Wrote it in Lent, shot it in four days right at the beginning of Easter (just before my prelims) and then spent all this term editing. It’s been the best procrastination ever.”
“£10 for a lightbulb. And we all got Van of Life at one point. Though did you know if you ask there’s a 10% student discount? Seriously try it”
“Yeah got cheesy chips for £2.20. I felt really cheap though… Okay, so about the end – was it an intentional choice not to let James be found out?”
“No, not really. I think my natural instinct is that in 99% of cases, that’s what happens. It doesn’t get reported, because the girl knows that she’d lose all her friends, and it’d become this huge thing, and she probably wouldn’t get any justice anyway.
“I don’t think I ever imagined Cate telling Talia. How the fuck do you tell your best friend that her boyfriend raped you?”
All in all, I found “Last Night” to be an incredibly well put together piece of student filmmaking, displaying a jarring realism while retaining a sensitivity to the issue at hand.