ON THE RADAR: THE HEDGEHOG
After a long journey around the festival circuit, we caught up with filmmakers Chris Lee and Paul Storrie ahead of the online release of gaming-inspired short ‘The Hedgehog’, to talk to them about their creative partnership and the Sonic success of their beautiful short film.
How did you both meet?
We both grew up in Upminster, a typical suburban town on the outskirts of London, and became friends at sixth form college back in 2005. From there we went on to study Graphic Design at Central Saint Martins in London. Photography and film caught our attention early on and we began working collaboratively on certain projects whilst on the course. We share a similar sense of humour, interest in film, art, photography and the surreal.
Sonic the Hedgehog in the saddest story ever… Where did this story come from and why Sonic and Dr. Robotnik?
Sonic is a global icon of the video gaming world and has been since the early 90’s. Since young children often idolise their fictional heroes, we were drawn to the visual of a boy dressed up in a home-made blue suit – especially one who is probably a little too old to be dressing up. With the man resembling his nemesis Dr. Robotnik, this was about creating an adventure for the boy in his empty world. However he instead discovers a dark window into where obsession and delusion can lead.
Being avid gamers, the subject of video game obsession has fascinated the both of us for a long time. Especially the effects on young kids. Whilst investigating the theme, we came across the concept of Peter-Pan Syndrome; the idea of not wanting to grow up. It describes a refusal to consider entry into the world of adult plans and responsibilities; to retreat from time. The traits of someone who is an inhabitant of a Never-Never-Land.
When we play video games, time stops. We get the chance to explore virtual worlds where everything is structured. If you die in the game, you just start again. These ideas formed our lost boy character who wants to be Sonic the hedgehog and live in a world where he can stay young forever.
What were your hopes when making the film? (What did you want to achieve?)
We wanted to create a world with a strong sense of character. Having no dialogue in the film, it was extremely important to make the environment really speak. It needed to be other-worldly, isolated, minimal and stagnant, just like the video game. It was fundamental to blur boundaries between reality and fantasy and shooting on 16mm really helped to capture this timeless, nostalgic window into another world.
It was interesting to explore how we could communicate video game obsession, without seeing someone physically playing. Although we were relying on the audience to recognise Sonic the Hedgehog to create the instant connection to gaming, it was important to us that the film worked on an emotional level even if you knew nothing of the game.
So, what has the film’s life been like so far?
First of all the film was shown at various London screenings. This is our first short film so it was a fresh and exciting experience – speaking at Q&As and hearing people’s interpretations and first hand feedback of the film has been insightful. Over the the last year or so we’ve screened at a handful of festivals home and abroad, and at the start of the year received a nomination for the British Council best UK film at LSFF, which was an amazing way to cap off the festival run.
What’s next for Hedgehog?
The film is going to be released online in the next couple of weeks and we’re very excited to get it out to a larger audience. It’ll be interesting to see what the gaming community makes of it.
Amazing, we look forward to seeing it continue to find new audiences! What can we expect from you both next?
We’re continuing to develop and explore new characters and we have a couple of scripts we are preparing to shoot in the summer.