A young man finds himself revisiting memories of a distant past, and is forced to confront his reality.

Director’s Vision for ‘The Lemming’

After grinding towards establishing myself as a commercial director for a few years in Sisyphus’esque fashion, I asked myself why I got into film in the first place, and an epiphany dawned on me. I realised I had been distracted from the essence of what I wanted to do – make cinema. I channeled everything into writing a script that could satisfy this hunger, and an early version of ‘The Lemming’ was born. The script was continuously developed until we stood on set two months later.

The inspiration for this film was very instictual, and very much worked its way outside-in by piecing together images and emotions. On closer analysis, it has a lot to do with how our identities are shaped and distorted through the conformity of a modern society disconnected from nature. How we are told to follow a certain path and lead a life that is deemed as safe and socially acceptable, and in the process, lose the grip of our authentic selves. This ties into a simile often used for someone who has submitted to group-think – ‘a lemming’ – based on a myth around how lemmings will blindly follow each other into mass suicide. With that said, there is presumably no utopia waiting on the other side of autonomy either. The seldomly walked path can get dark and lonely.

Being a fully self-financed film, we naturally had struggles getting this made within a very tight budget. COVID also got to attempt sabotage by sidelining the DP, Steadicam operator, and set photographer only a couple of days before the shoot. But with the help of Panagiota, we managed to secure solid replacements along with the rest of the talented crew, as well as great rental deals.

The script was written with my friend, Nils, in mind. Being an untrained actor, I have to admit I had some reservations around taking a chance on him early on, but after our first rehearsal I knew he was a natural and that he’d be able to bring a certain rawness to the screen, as well as deliver the more nuanced scenes. He also absorbed direction like a sponge, which made it a true pleasure to work on perfecting takes.

Creating this film was certainly a reminder of the path I need to follow.