Earlier this year Fujifilm commissioned director and cinematographer, Jake Polonsky, to make a film that would showcase their upcoming new camera, FUJIFILM X-H2S. Jake reached out to Dark Energy director, Caswell Coggins with a view to their directing the project together. Given a free hand to choose the film’s narrative, long-time friends Jake and Caswell realised it was an opportunity to make a film that could have a lasting impact. They wanted to make a film about mental health and settled on a subject close to their hearts, bipolar disorder.
The film is made through Into the Fold, a social impact agency of which Caswell is a founding partner and director.
Jake comments: "Our aim with this film was to attempt to find a way to show the experience of someone who is bipolar, highlighting the confusion of mood cycling by following a boxer who goes into the ring for a fight against a sequence of mysterious opponents. The hero’s progress through the fights depicts a series of highs and lows representing her hypomanic and depressed cycles. It was important to express the confusion that can be experienced through not knowing when you’re going to feel up or down or why. The different fighters are there to represent the circumstances that surround a bipolar sufferer when they are ‘up’ or ‘down’."
Caswell further notes: "Our goal is that the film will help people to understand the experience of Bipolar spectrum disorder either in themselves or in others. If they do go on to have a diagnosis, they will be able more easily to manage and understand it, helping sufferers or their loved ones find a way to navigate through it and get on with their lives without feeling at the mercy of something they don’t understand or have not yet recognised. By sharing the film, Bipolar UK are uniquely placed to get the film in front of the people who might benefit from it most."
Simon Kitchen, Bipolar UK’s CEO says: "We can’t thank Fujifilm enough for this opportunity to collaborate with Caswell and Jake on this powerful film. It highlights how confusing, scary, relentless and intense it can be to live with bipolar before a diagnosis. Yet getting a diagnosis is taking too long. After first telling a doctor about symptoms of bipolar, it takes an average of 9.5 years to get an accurate diagnosis. As a charity we are calling for quicker diagnosis so that people can get the treatment, support and understanding they need to live well with the condition."
The film was shot entirely on the new FUJIFILM X-H2S Jake comments: "The results we achieved with this small mirrorless camera were very impressive. I was particularly looking for decent latitude where the camera delivered performance that was easily on a par with rivals costing ten times its price or more. Sensitivity and colour reproduction were both excellent. For me the camera has clearly earned its stripes as one capable of delivering great looking moving images."
The film features boxer Lesley Sackey, an ABA British Boxing champion and European gold medallist with all supporting cast being elite amateurs and professional boxers.
The directors conclude: "We had the usual challenges of getting everything we wanted done in a limited time….But perhaps hardest was trying to make the fighting look believable and brutal to camera. We were fortunate to have an excellent fight coordinator, Dan Styles, on board to help make everything really work for camera. As Lesley had her final amateur bout coming up a few weeks later it was particularly important that she didn’t actually get hurt! Another challenging aspect was trying to make sure that this metaphor landed effectively and clearly to open people’s eyes to the experience of those affected by the condition."
The film goes live today and will be featured across the Fujifilm platforms and Bipolar UK social media platforms. It will be showcased at upcoming events that look to highlight and raise awareness of the condition.