'The Secret' is our latest of Film of the Month

14 Jul 2023 in Film of the Month

7 mins
'The Secret' is our latest of Film of the Month

We are delighted to reveal that our latest Film of the Month winner is The Secret, a dark thriller in which all is not what it seems, and which was made by teenage filmmaker Taylor, from Sheffield.

The Secret (engaging for ages 11+) sees a girl beginning to feel the pressures of guilt as she worries her dark secret may be exposed. Below, we talk to Taylor to find out more about his film.

Great build of tension that gets broken so suddenly with the secret being revealed! I was jarred, in a good way!.

Film of the Month judge on 'The Secret'

Congratulations! How long have you been making films?

Thank you! It is much appreciated and I am honoured. I've been making films for around two years. My local BFI short course was my first real taste of filmmaking and it seems to have stuck like glue. I've always been passionate about photography and music, so filmmaking seems to be the perfect melting pot of creativity for me.

Who are the team that worked on The Secret and how did you all meet?

The origins of The Secret's team varies from person to person. Firstly, Mia is an actress that I met a few films ago; she starred in a film called Your Light and we've been frequent collaborators since. Amelia was a fellow BFI participant who kindly decided to lend me her beautiful home for the shoot, and Spencer is a college friend who decided to jump in last-minute when I needed him. I'd never worked with either of them before on a project, and Spencer was a complete stranger to all but myself, and yet everyone worked together amazingly. Quite the mishmash overall, but I couldn't have asked for a better team for this project.

You also created the film's moody score. What was your process for that?

The creative process behind The Secret was to mimic the work of Hitchcock, mainly, and lure people in to the thriller tropes. I'm a big fan of classical music and instrumentation, so elements such as the piano definitely shone through in that respect.

The Secret was a one-day shoot. How did it go?

I would say that I relied on planning and spontaneity in equal measure. I have documents prepared for every shoot I do - shot lists that map my time and the basic visual story - however, I believe that some of the best ideas often hit you on the day.

The first day I visited the house was the day we filmed in it, so elements such as tracking shots were very off-the-cuff, and lighting was difficult to predict until I was in the space. Certain narrative elements, of which had been visualised upon seeing photographs of the property a few days prior, were not actually in the original script, such as the stumble upon the piano, whilst others, such as the light across the eye, were in my head from day one.

Nevertheless, no matter how much something works in theory, short shoots like this I find are about trial and error, as well as trusting those around you to help bring a story to life.

The central performance from Mia is very important. How was the creative process between the two of you?

I think a creative process is always about a back-and-forth between two people; where acting is concerned, especially, it's more than one person's vision.

In Mia's own words, the process of finding that character involved ignoring the script's last line to fully embody the thriller features of the script and give them her full attention. Whilst she didn't reference any characters in particular, her inspiration followed a similar path to my own, a broad outlook on Hitchcock's style and period.

When working with Mia, I often find that we're on the same page where character motivations and moods are concerned. This makes communication between us a lot easier, but she also offers a lot of valuable feedback that allows me to reconsider motivations and flesh out characters on set. I believe that a healthy open discourse between directors and actors is vital to getting the best out of your characters.

Were there any films or filmmakers who influenced you on The Secret?

Of course! Filmmakers are always an inspiration to me and for this particular film, Alfred Hitchcock was a large influence in trying to hone in on that authentic thriller style. Also Guillermo Del Toro and Edgar Wright.

Regarding the more comedic aspects of the film, I really couldn't tell you! Most comedic films I know are very grounded in their genre, so I really enjoyed using the element of surprise here and mixing genres.

If you could remake The Secret what would you do differently and why?

Hmm, I always try to make films as good as they can be. My aim is not to leave a project with regrets. I wouldn't do anything differently, and I can enjoy watching the film knowing that I'm happy with it.

What top tips would you give to a young filmmaker about to make their first short film?

Have a vision. If you can't visualise your own narrative, how do you expect the audience to?

Know your team. One of the most important elements of filmmaking is teamwork, so work with people that you like and make sure that everyone gets on! No one wants an argument on set and it doesn't create a healthy arena for creativity.

Enjoy yourself! If you don't like what you're doing, why are you doing it?

Taylor's film will now be showcased to over 300,000 film club members online and all of our Film of the Month films are now on the Into Film YouTube channel, and he has also secured a £100 Amazon voucher to help further develop his future films. Think you could win Film of the Month? Find out more about how you can enter our ongoing Film of the Month competition.

If you've been inspired by The Secret then make sure to check out the following films:

  • The Personal History of David Copperfield (2019, PG, 119 mins) Engaging for ages 7+
    A comedic adaptation of Charles Dickens' rags-to-riches novel about an orphaned boy who tries to find his way in the world.
  • Holes (2003, PG, 112 mins) Engaging for ages 7-14
    An offbeat book adaptation about a young boy who's sent to a sinister correctional facility in the desert to dig holes, after being falsely accused of theft.
  • School of Rock (2003, PG, 105 mins) Engaging for ages 7+
    A vibrant, uplifting comedy in which an unemployed rock guitarist masquerades as a supply teacher. when he finds himself in need of a job.
  • Addams Family Values (1993, PG, 90 mins) Engaging for ages 11+
    The Addams Family, known for their offbeat spookiness, are thrown into turmoil when a new addition joins their ranks.

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