Kate Key Still.jpg

ON THE SURFACE received development and production funding from the BFI and Creative England. 


After a fatal incident, a mother and daughter are asked to account for their actions. To get out of trouble they conspire to lie. Do they feel no remorse?


ON THE SURFACE is a film that focuses on a complex mother-daughter relationship between Julia and Kate. It connects themes of guilt and punishment. Iā€™m fascinated by the power of guilt and the mechanisms people use to cope with it. Here I consider the idea that people only experience guilt when others compel them to. What if an offence can be committed quietly? Can it be repressed from memory; erased from existence?

Shot on Super 16 in France and the UK and starring Tara Fitzgerald and new talent, Freya Allan, the film has a languorous, summer feel, saturated with pastel tones that beguile the darkness and family secrets that creep under the surface.

I combine framing and sound to enhance this darkness, building tension using heightened diegetic sound to emphasise the claustrophobia of the frame. I focus on the face and the power of the look; using strong portraits, heads turning into shots and forward towards camera building up a symphonic crescendo of faces, as well as creating a sense of fragmentation between the protagonists. ON THE SURFACE is a film where everyone appears to be watching everyone else and their looks reveal the unspoken power relations that exist between them.