'Workout' is March 2021's Film of the Month

26 Apr 2021 in Film of the Month

9 mins
'Workout' is March 2021's Film of the Month

We are delighted to announce that March's 2021's Film of the Month winner is the powerful short film Workout, from filmmaker Kit, in Sussex. See his winning film above.

A gripping topic that was well executed with sound and visuals. A very professional final piece; I loved the abstract take on such a dark narrative.

Film of the Month judge on 'Workout'

Workout (engaging for ages 14+) sees a fitness routine spiral into an unsustainable and never-ending attempt at perfection in what is a thoughtful exploration of male body image. 

Content Note: This film contains themes relating to body image and eating disorders, alongside strong and intense images of bodily functions.

Trigger warnings: Food and Drink / Eating Disorders

We got in touch with Kit to find out more about his film. 

How long have you been making films?

I began making films on my iPad when I was 12, and discovered I had a knack for it, despite the films being absolute rubbish. I went on to study Media Studies GCSE, A Level Film Studies and Creative Media Production BTEC, where - when given the opportunity - I would always produce a film project as opposed to just a film poster or magazine cover. So all in all, I've studied and produced amateur films for the past five or six years, with varying degrees of success. Some of my older stuff I hope will never see the light of day. I consider Workout my first real short film though.

Workout is such a strong film. What inspired you to make a film about male body image?

Workout was inspired by my own struggles with the male body image; it is the story of what my first lockdown was like, at home, in my garage. I got into a routine of gruelling exercise, ridiculous eating habits and constant attempts at self-improvement through supplementing, and I wondered, "What if I took this too far?" And that's what Workout is - the embodiment of the fear that one day you can take it too far. 

I grew up as a fat kid who was labelled "Kit-Kat Chunky" at swimming competitions, and later was scrawny enough in my early teens that I lost every arm-wrestle I ever had. Yet every male idol I had - be it Chris Hemsworth or Ryan Reynolds - was in ridiculously good shape, and it's been ingrained in me since those formative years that this is how a man should look, and this is how I must look to finally be happy.

 What message would you like an audience to take from your film?

I would like the audience to consider at what cost we model ourselves on superheroes and action stars. Why do fitness companies distribute adverts of men enhanced by copious amounts of steroids, yet simultaneously promote realistic body-positive, mental-health-conscious adverts of women? If it's had such a profound effect on my life that I felt the need to live in a fitness regime and make a whole film about it, I can't begin to imagine what it is doing to other men. 

The message is less about how a man looks on the outside, but more so what the media's male body image is doing to him on the inside. He may look good, but does he really feel good? And what's the true price he's paying?

Do you think attitudes are changing in the way young men see themselves? If so, why might that be?

Attitudes are beginning to shift, but not necessarily in the same way my film aims to address. There is undeniably a weaker presence of the traditional 'macho man', or the 'spornosexual' in the media, and far more emphasis placed upon the 'metrosexual'. There's also the recently surfaced 'e-boy' and 'soft-boy' aesthetics, promoted by social media platforms like Tiktok and Instagram, where floppy locks and baggy sweaters are all the rage. 

However, the recent surge in the dismantling of toxic-masculinity has failed to tackle the issue of the male body itself, diverting attention instead onto male fashion standards, rather than how the male body is presented. Nearly every box-office smash still holds a ripped, thirty-something as the lead, and most top male magazines and advertising companies still illustrate their preference towards the muscular celebrities of the world. And it's these stars who many young men still see as the definition of 'being a man'.

What were the challenges of creating a film under lockdown conditions?

As a result of lockdown, my only cast and crew was myself and my actor, Oli. I had no boom operator, and so the film was recorded completely silent. I added sound through home-made Foley and voice-over narration, recorded on a Sennheiser mic that I bought specifically. I only had two cheap led lights that ran out periodically, on the hour, which stretched a one-day shoot into three. 

Not only that, but due to tight time constraints, I didn't even have storyboards or a shot list. The film was edited on Davinci Resolve, which prior to this film I had no experience with, meaning I learnt as I went along. Colour-grading was by far the most difficult concept to grasp.

 Are you influenced by any other filmmakers?

I would say I am definitely influenced by Darren Aronofsky in terms of my style, and the aesthetic of this film in particular (Requiem for a Dream being one of my all-time favourites). Workout certainly borrows elements from Hannon's American Psycho (again, one of my favourites). 

I throw different filmmakers' styles at my wall and see what sticks for me. My most recent film The Drop is very much a Tarantino/Guy Ritchie-inspired crime romp. 

I am yet to attempt a film that's clearly influenced by [Christopher] Nolan, simply due to lack of budget or a mind-blowing plot, but I cite him as one of my biggest influences. Basically, any name that's been dropped in this answer are big influences for me.

 Do you have any other projects lined up?

I am in the midst of producing my next and final college film before I head off to Uni, and it's my most ambitious by far. Called Reckoning, it features my largest cast and crew, my longest script and my first on-screen performance, so it's pretty nerve-wracking. It's a neo-noir revenge horror about a man being interrogated by an inexperienced police-officer, after being caught brutally murdering three men with his bare bands in the street late one night. I won't give any more away, but male mental trauma, cruelty and justice are the main themes.

What advice would you offer to a young filmmaker preparing to make their first short film?

  • Do some decent Pre-Production have a script, some rough storyboards and a shotlist ready to go. It saves a lot of time later.
  • Invest in some equipment - you don't need to save for a Blackmagic camera like me, but make sure to have a quality camera on your phone, an external microphone and some lights. It's amazing how integral the lighting and sound design of your film is to its reception with an audience.
  • Send it to a festival. I never anticipated to send Workout anywhere, let alone win anything for it, but its now been accepted into five festivals and won Into Film's Film of the Month, so it goes to show you never can tell.

Kit'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 their 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 Workout then make sure to check out the following films:

  • Saint Maud (2019, 15, 84 mins) Engaging for ages 16+
    A slow-burning psychological horror in which a devout Christian care worker attempts to save the soul of her latest patient.
  • Black Swan (2010, 15, 103 mins) Engaging for ages 16+
    A psychological horror that follows a leading ballerina as she undergoes a dramatic and dark change in character.
  • My Skinny Sister (2015, 15, 93 mins) Engaging for ages 14+
    A compelling Swedish drama about a girl's struggles with the knowledge of her older sister's eating disorder.
  • Whiplash (2014, 15, 102 mins) Engaging for ages 14+
    A riveting two-hander about a jazz drummer and his challenging relationship with a demanding tutor. 

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