The Hut: a new perspective
A woman finds herself stranded in a mountain hut after a mysterious hiking accident during a snowstorm. Alone with only herself to talk to on a broken radio, she is faced with the reality of her PTSD which leads to some unnerving revelations and darkly comedic encounters...
The Hut is a playful and provocative exploration of PTSD that expresses the fragile and resilient nature of the mind, and the kaleidoscope effects of trauma when faced alone with oneself.
The Hut was inspired by a true event that unfolded when I lived in New Zealand. In the frozen depths of winter, following a dangerous hiking accident that killed her partner, a woman had been found high in the mountains in an empty ranger’s hut, where she sought refuge for a month waiting for rescue. My imagination ran wild. I knew I had to create a story where the psyche of this woman drove the narrative. What must she have felt, alone, unsure of survival, whilst knowing that her husband’s body was lost in the mountains? Would she have PTSD? And was it even an accident? After writing the feature script, I wanted to explore the story on screen with a short. It would have an experimental, rebellious twist, with a touch of the absurd. I’d shoot from scratch, without a budget.
Creative constraints were my ally. One woman, one location, one camera, one weekend. With 5 weeks until the 2-day shoot, as a first-time producer, I had to seize every opportunity, fast. From securing the actress, to borrowing camera and sound gear from a local studio, to being kindly offered space at a film studio I’d worked with, to friends lending lights, adhering to covid restrictions, and everything in-between. The script was enough to attract an exceptional actress and a very talented film crew eager to dedicate their time and skills to the film.
Shot hand-held, in aspect ratio 4:3 to place the protagonist(s) Ray at the centre of her own narrative and mirror the character’s claustrophobia and disorientation. Eager to explore the effects of PTSD, and how a trauma, like a fatal accident, can both initiate symptoms, and also open a spiral of repressed traumas from one’s past. It felt necessary to represent a female perspective, speaking into both the experiences of women, and to the universal human experience of trauma, anxiety and the quotidian, often unguarded, ways in which we speak to ourselves. But it couldn’t take itself too seriously. It must be funny, since often the most tragic of scenarios is where the comedy lies in art and our personal lives. I wanted the viewer to feel the character’s emotions; to find her unpalatable yet uncomfortably relatable. To feel empathiy, fear, judgement, compassion, humour, and confusion, and, to look inward at themselves. Although a psychological thriller, with horror elements (particularly in sound design), there is an underlying dark humour inherent to the story and Ray herself. So, our actress must be captivating enough to hold our attention for 25 minutes on her own and perform the character’s wide spectrum of emotions. It’s a true one-woman piece, and actress, Charlotte, was the answer. The production has been a testament to the power of a shared belief in a story and for persevering even when the odds are against you.
The collaboration, from building the set out of junk, to editing the film with the help of professionals, has been highly rewarding and educational. The final result is a film that I hope will inspire other ambitious new filmmakers to produce their brave stories in uniquely pioneering ways. Working within limitations will often inspire the most imaginative and engaging pieces of film.
The film is currently being submitted into festivals. Stay tuned for updates and future screenings :)