The Inuring is a story I felt compelled to bring to the screen, after researching the many cases of bullying that are unfortunately rife in society. In these numerous cases the victims found it hard and also humiliating to share their experiences with their family members. They would endeavour to bottle up their emotions in a code of silence to shield their shame from those closest to them. These true life stories broke my heart. I became determined to shed a spotlight on the subject of bullying through fiction, and create a story that resonated long after the end credits.
In order to do this, one needs compelling characters. It was important that even in a short time frame, these characters felt real to an audience – to such an extent that some would believe they were watching a fictional account of a true life story. The central character of Aleisha was born from these very thoughts. Layering her dialogue with subtext enabled me to reveal more about her state of mind at this juncture, so that audiences could see the history that Aleisha had endured, and admire her extraordinary courage. It was also important to raise the central question of The Inuring ‘how much could you endure?’ If you had been subjected to this, would you break earlier? Or would you hold onto your dignity for as long as possible and not allow the bullies to win?
To make it even harder for Aleisha to open up, she needed an adversary in the home – a family member that had become so aloof to her outbursts that the stillness and conflicting rage of Aleisha was just part of the week. The idea for this developed into the form of her twenty-five-year-old sister, Claudette. Hardened by the erratic mood swings of her sister, Claudette has attempted and failed on too many occasions to reconnect with Aleisha, that she no longer shows enough interest in discovering Aleisha’s secrets. Instead, she has taken to existing within her own vintage themed world and is more concerned with the fixtures of the home, than who lives within it.
The very nature of this story demanded restraint in directing. It was critical to allow the performances of both actors to engage the visual. It is all too easy to allow the camera to get in the way of a story – for a Director to lose sight of the greatest visual of them all: an actor’s face. In The Inuring, I took the decision very early on in pre-production that the camera would be the audience. In what is essentially a classic one-act play, the reactions of Emily and Sarine had to remain the focal point of the frame. So the camera was used to show the detachment that Aleisha has from Claudette and also the audience. This detachment Aleisha has is displayed with a wide shot to reveal her isolation and emptiness, because for Aleisha to allow Claudette and the audience into her world, she has to open up. When she does, we are literally and physically drawn into her experiences and pain. At key points in the film the distance between the sisters is emphasized with the use of a close-up and a corresponding medium-shot – to show the connection still hadn’t been made between them. Just when one thinks they have reeled the other one in and have made a connection, the cut reveals the distance between the sisters is still there.
This approach to shooting the film, allows the exceptional performances of Emily and Sarine to dominate the screen and make The Inuring the powerful performance piece it was always intended to be for its two actors.