In a dystopian near future, Catherine, a dissident scientist imprisoned in the notorious Marozia Institute, is given a bowl of food before being led to an interrogation room where she finds herself part of a sick game, invented by the prison Governor, that utilises the very machine for which she was imprisoned. In order to survive, she has to outwit not only the prison guards but her own machine.
I wrote the first draft of Stop:Watch over a typically British wet weekend a couple years ago. At the time I was in development with another (longer) short film so didn’t really pay too much attention to what I was writing, just that I wanted a character to escape from prison, echoing my own situation, sat at home, imprisoned by the crappy weather. It had to be a pretty impossible situation that required quick thinking to survive and that’s when ‘the game’ was invented.
The costume designer of the other film and I had some great conversations about the world of Stop:Watch, and it was with his input that I developed the idea of the Marozia Institute. This expanded the theme of corruption and power, that sat behind the story itself, and to which the costumes eventually gave historical reference. A few script revisions later and we had ourselves a cool project.
Calling it a sci-fi film was a risky decision. So many sci-fi shorts today are overwhelmingly CGI and look absolutely amazing, so coming in with a practical effect and prop heavy film (and one small bit of VFX) was always going to be a risk. However, the look we were going for, and the story itself, didn’t really warrant CGI. It’s sci-fi Jim, but not as we’ve become used to!