Throughout human history perpetrators of abhorrent practices have often been able to sheath themselves in a justification cloak of ‘tradition’ whenever the moral injustice of their actions is challenged. Spike Morris and Oscar Hudson explore what is left once the cosmetic trappings of such traditions are stripped away in their challenging Random Acts’ short The Hunt.
We asked Spike to run us through the concept and production process.
The film explores the idea of something being more acceptable if it’s surrounded in tradition and ritual. Not sure if it really has the same meaning in the USA, but I suspect that people in the UK may recognise the fox hunters as a traditional, if abhorrent, act and subconsciously offer them some small degree of acceptability in their minds for this. As the dogs, horses and ‘hunting pinks’ that make the fox hunter recognisable fall away, does the act at the centre of it seem as acceptable?
The fact that the pack chases a human hopefully accentuates this theme – although we were very clear that the female lead should remain strong and defiant throughout in the face of the hunt, and absolutely not perilous. This is especially important as to not be confused with any unintentional themes of patriarchy. Both characters in matching clothes and her turning to face him at the end signifies that without the traditional symbols and props surrounding the hunt, it’s easier to challenge the concept.
I appreciate this is of course all quite abstract. For me the beginning spark for this project was that I simply wanted to use the aesthetic of the redcoats and horses.. Whilst I enjoyed developing the idea into what it came to be, I understand the criticism that it maybe lacks plot as I am primarily a DOP and definitely visually orientated. As such I’m always looking to raise my production value – sometimes a top notch looking video is enough for me.
My co-director Oscar Hudson and I produced ‘The Hunt’ with the help of Aaron Willson. We shot the film in two freezing cold days with a super talented and enthusiastic cast and crew who I can’t thank enough. The project was captured in 4K using 2x RED Epic cameras (one was mounted to an octocopter) and lit intensely to give a surreal look as it was important to both of us that this film had a strong visual appeal. Our initial concept was actually to shoot the film on a beach, with the woman and huntsman ending in a chase on foot through a sandy forest. We ran into problems with Natural England who got the wrong end of the stick about the message behind the film and rejected our location proposal. With hindsight I think it was a blessing in disguise – the industrial, post apocalyptic backdrop we ended up with on the airfield contrasts the characters wonderfully. I think it adds to the surreal style.