Introducing Siren Call Films’s BEAUTIFIED Written and Directed by Emily Haigh Following Premiere Screening at Cannes
Beautified was written by Emily Haigh. Emily focuses on strong female-centric scripts.
When writing Beautified, Emily set out to create a thought provoking dystopian society which not only highlights human trafficking but also shows the destructive path put on society through constantly being influenced by photoshopped images of what is considered the perfect body.
The film is set in what is originally seen as luxurious surroundings, filled with soft, feminine hues and shapes. Pastel colours bounce through the outset of the film. When searching for the locations, Magna Carta House on Magna Carta Island and immediately stood out. The Magna Carta was in-fact sealed at this very house. The Magna Carta, or “Great Charter,” was signed by King John, the King of England, in 1215 and was a turning point in human rights.
No free man shall be seized or imprisoned, or stripped of his rights or possessions, or outlawed or exiled, or deprived of his standing in any other way, nor will we proceed with force against him, or send others to do so, except by the lawful judgement of his equals or by the law of the land. To no one will we sell, to no one deny or delay right or justice. - Taken from the Magna Carta.
Three girls, Alice, Belle and Eleanor, aged between 17 and 19 years of age, all differ due to their racial background - Asian, Black and Caucasian. Upon a closer look, the girls are eerily similar with long straight hair, features and slim build that they all share. They are very well groomed; Alice and Eleanor dressed in the same dresses - a uniform, but different colours. The girls share a close sisterly bond.
They share a feminine bedroom, almost a setting for a Disney story, covered with lots of ornate antique décor. Beds line the room. Windows fill the room with light. On closer inspection this fairy tale setting is no more than their prison, closely watched the girls are no more than slaves. Each branded with a barcode on their backs.
Alice and Eleanor prepare Belle; they groom her hair and dress her, finally a white sash is added to complete her outfit. Belle is lead off to ‘Sir’s’ room by Eleanor.
Sir ushers Belle to his bedroom. Delighted with Belle’s appearance he rewards Eleanor with a present and places a black box tied with a red ribbon into her hands.
Eleanor returns to the girls room with the box, she opens it in front on Alice. Eleanor is devastated with the gift. Alice gently assists Eleanor as they prepare themselves for the horrors hidden within the box.
Eleanor - Emily Haigh
Emily Haigh is an award winning actress and producer, originally from Devon she now lives in London. Emily studied performing arts and also attended the Lee Strasberg Institute Intensive Course. Emily has appeared in numerous films and television programmes including episodes of the BBC hit drama, Casualty and as Georgiana Reed in the Oscar nominated film, Jane Eyre.
Belle - Tahirah Sharif
Tahirah Sharif is from London and attended The BRIT School for Performing Arts where she studied Theatre. As well as appearing on screen in numerous programmes including Waterloo Road, The Invisible Woman, and Casualty, she has also starred in several stage plays including Moon on a Rainbow Shawl (National Theatre) and Crawling in the Dark (Almeida Theatre).
Alice - Linda Louise Duan
Linda Louise Duan is a British-Born Chinese Actress. Born in Chester, she moved to Essex. After graduating, she moved to London to study at the International School of Corporeal Mime before moving to France to study at the Ecole Philippe Gaulier. After graduating in 2015, she temporarily moved to Israel for a Multimedia Project, before she was called to fly back to London to audition for Marvel's Doctor Strange, which she was cast as Tina Minoru.
Sir - Stephen Harakis
Stephen Harakis was born in London, Stephen performed in a couple of amateur productions in his youth before choosing a different path by studying for a degree in Computer Science. Although a talented basketball player, a career in the NBA never quite materialised and whilst a more successful one in IT continued he always dreamt of following his true passion, acting. Stephen trained at The Poor School in London, graduating in 2012.
The film takes a sharp turn when we move into Sir's and the Medical Room. Sir's room needed to be dark with rich colours, a contrast to the Girls Bedroom. The Medical Room, had to be very cold and sterile. A Studio was found in London, which was the perfect fit for both scenes. Both locations were booked just before Christmas, filming locked to commence on the 16th January. With limited time in the run up to the Christmas holidays, the remaining cast and crew were attached. The cast and crew brought with them a wealth of experience with credits across the board which included Wonder Woman, Suicide Squad, Doctor Strange, Dumbo, Jane Eyre, A Christmas Prince, Mouse Trap, Ren and 50 Kisses. The 16th January, 8am, Magna Carta House became a hive of activity as cast and crew rushed busily round the stunning surroundings. As the day progressed so did the laughter, the team worked incredibly well. Every scene was shot and remarkably the first day finished one before schedule!
“I had a very clear vision for Beautified from the outset. The film would highlight both human trafficking and how we are constantly pushing our bodies to what is considered to be perfection. As soon as I started to write, the characters and scenes just flowed. I wanted to make a beautiful yet dark, thought provoking film with a poetic visual flow. Currently, Beautified is a 9 minute short which I would like to develop into a series.
Set in an isolated manor house in a dystopian future, we introduce Alice, Belle and Eleanor, aged between 17 and 19 years. The girls are eerily similar even though different - Asian, Black and Caucasian. At first glance everything seems very normal, the girls look peaceful and content in their beautifully decorated bedroom. It is the subtle subtext and nuances that break through the silence as their uncomfortable situation begins to become apparent. It was critical to work with actors who could subletly show their bond and tension as the story develops. We were incredibly fortunate to have a fantastic cast, each equally engaging and supportive.
Location was just as important a character itself in this visual story, and we began location scouting early on during the pre-production. It wasn’t until December that I came across the stunning Magna Carta House. It fitted the first half of the script perfectly. It was here that The Magna Carta was sealed. The Magna Carta or “Great Charter,” was signed by King John, the King of England, in 1215 and was a turning point in human rights. The second half of the script turns dark and I was delighted to find a studio in London which suited it perfectly. With a week till Christmas, I locked the shoot dates for mid-January.
It took two days to shoot Beautified. The cast and crew worked fantastically together, we even finished an hour early on the first day. The footage went straight off to be edited and notes with samples of music to our composer. It was important to get the score right, I wanted to keep the film fluid. With our beautiful score completed, we swiftly moved through post and had the completed film early March.
This film would not have been made were it not for the amazing support we received via crowdfunding and our teams spirit throughout the whole process.” said Emily Haigh (Actor, Writer and Director)
UK AUDIENCES CAN SEE BEAUTIFIED AT THE LONDON ROLLING FILM FESTIVAL IX ON MAY 27