© 2018  SIMONE SMITH / WILD ROOM

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SLAP is inspired by experience of primary school and the time I was asked to slap someone in front of the whole class. I felt this horrible pressure realising that if I didn't do it, I'd be singled out and if I did do it, I'd be a bad person. I was only 8 years old but I remember feeling this heavy moral dilemma for the entire day. I wanted to make a film that would deconstruct that experience and explore my feelings as a child then, and as an adult now looking back... I wanted to convey things and people that felt oppressive to me... for example, the school itself felt like a prison...and the pressure to 'be perfect' felt like this constant worry.

It felt natural to express the story in an unsettling, surreal and dream-like way in order to convey the intense perception I had at that time. And so on a self-funded budget of under £1k, I wrote, directed, produced, edited and sound designed the film.

We had a crew of ten and a cast of seventeen girls from age 7-11 including Charlotte McDougall who played the lead role of Melissa, and one male adult, Ian Watt, who played the role of Mr Cunningham. All actors played their parts with fierce passion and presence.

The film was shot by DOP David Lee in the autumn of 2015 in the Southside of Glasgow at the Scotland Street Museum - the same school my Grandad went to! At the time I had been working on multiple projects - and as I didn't have a producer telling me to hurry up and complete it, I ended up leaving the footage in the archives and didn't edit it until June 2018!

It felt incredibly gratifying to finally complete it and share it with an audience at the Southside Film Festival where we won 'Best Film' voted for by the audience. SLAP then went on to earn a BAFTA nomination for Best Short Film in November 2018 and it won Jury Special Mention at the Glasgow Short Film Festival. SLAP has so far been officially selected to screen at BAFTA and Academy Awards qualifying film festivals including Underwire, London Short Film Festival, Cork Film Festival and Cinequest Film and Creativity Film Festival in California!

If I'd completed the film in 2015, it wouldn't have been the same film so I'm very glad for the gap as I learned a lot about the kind of filmmaker I want to be and how I want to use my voice. From the bottom of my heart I thank everyone who helped make this experience possible. I am so proud of our team and excited to present SLAP to many more film festivals around the world, thank you.

Love Simone x

Director's statement