A touching and unusual tale about a young girl struggling with her illness (M.E.), Rory Stewart’s NFTS short Wild Horses combines some inventive filmmaking with an endearing narrative to create a truly engaging 26-minute film. Speaking to Stewart about his film (originally for Short of the Week), he explained his approach to its aesthetic, and in particular the choice to shoot 4:3:

“It was shot on an Alexa with some very pretty uncoated Cooke lenses I believe, nothing too fancy or exciting. We shot in a 4:3 ratio for a few reasons, firstly it’s a story about people failing to connect and the narrow frame made it easier to keep the frames clear of more than one character at a time (depending on the scene). 4:3 also lends itself to symmetrical compositions very well and since I wanted a feeling of artifice throughout to keep the audience uncertain as to what was real or a dream that was useful. Obviously there is the character aspect, Joan is “trapped” in a world she feels is too small for her.

We edited on Avid, mixed in Protools. I wrote the first draft in about two weeks and tweaked it as we went into pre-production, production and post! From beginning to end it probably took about 9 months or so. In terms of unusual methods… I do a fair amount of improvising with the actors, mostly just adding funnier lines or trying to see if we can push more drama out of the scene somehow by playing around.”

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