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Submerged

Locked in a stiffing metallic tube, somewhere under the depths of the stormy sea waves, submariner Billy Bourne wakes to find himself alone. Flashing-red emergency lights are his only illumination, and cast his outline across the dials of his World War Two vessel.

Unable to locate his position on the seabed, Billy tries to find an escape but, to no avail, calculates how little oxygen he has left. He stumbles upon top secret plans that have led to his situation: an experiment from the British Navy sometime in the 1950s investigating teleportation.

But this experiment has gone wrong. Badly wrong. Minutes earlier he had woken from dreaming about his sweetheart, Baby, only to find that he was alone, without his crewmates, and thousands of metres below the ocean waves.

He tries using the radio but gets only static, before sealing off the sub to conserve his air supply, and attempts to escape through hatches and launch tubes. But the oxygen has run dry, and he begins to accept his fate.

These are the opening moments of innovative sci-fi romance Submerged, created by our University’s Department of Film and Media. The 15-minute short, a homage to traditional Cold War thrillers including 1990 hit Red October, is the story of submariner Billy Bourne, whose crewmates mysteriously disappear after research into teleportation goes awry.

The feature was directed by Senior Lecturer Darren Mapletoft and written by Programme Coordinator of Media Production Michael Holley. The soundtrack was composed by Reader in Film Composition Stephen Baysted, while professional crews during filming were led by Game of Thrones and Doctor Who editor Tim Porter.

Darren: “The film was shot entirely on HMS Alliance, an old World War Two submarine now based at Gosport. This makes it feel fantastically realistic, particularly as it was rather claustrophobic inside. We still had to complete a fairly complex post-production journey as we included a lot of additional effects. The film itself has been entered into a series of international film festivals and, so far, it has been very successful.”

Among these festivals are prestigious awards ceremonies held across the world, including the Great Lakes International Film Festival in Pennsylvania as well as the Motor City Nightmares horror expo in Michigan, Detroit. Submerged was also screened at the renowned Los Angeles Film Festival Awards in late 2015, following its official premier at the Aesthetica Short Film Festival in York.

The University trio, who work under the guise of Trundle Films, are no strangers to receiving critical acclaim for their productions. Their repertoire includes another 15-minute short, My Name is Georgina, about a young woman forced into slavery. The film, shot at the University with help from its students, aimed to raise awareness of human trafficking in the UK, and was honoured at a 2013 short film festival in London.

Early last year, staff and students again collaborated for the production of dark drama Brandy and Pep: the tale of two feuding sisters who share a sinister secret. The film was produced by award-winning pop promo creator Tim Pope, who has directed videos for the world’s most influential artists, including Sir Paul McCartney, David Bowie, and Queen. Darren added:

“Creating these films was a great experience for our students and one that provided them with invaluable experience of all aspects of production. It is a unique experience across any university in England, and is very much geared towards helping our students hit the ground running when they graduate.”

The Department of Film and Media’s next venture will see them again team up with students for horror short Cured, which is again to be filmed at the University and throughout Chichester. The motion picture will be available to view in 2017.

Back on the deck of Submerged, and with little oxygen left, submariner Billy begins to accept his fate. He shaves, cooks, and dons the Captain’s uniform, before adding romantic music and sitting down to a meal. Opposite sits a shirt with a picture of Baby attached. He struggles physically and mentally as he dances with the shirt, losing himself to the music.

The dream is broken by voices coming through the radio, but all hope is dashed as his own messages bounces back at him from earlier. Billy is broken. Lying on his bunk, struggling for air, his eyes close to images of Baby dancing on the beach, encouraging him to join her. He begins to crawl towards the con tower, up the ladder and to the hatch, but can he escape the submarine before the oxygen runs dry and he is cast adrift forever?

To find out more on Submerged, or about studying for a degree in Film and Media at the University, visit www.chi.ac.uk/department-film-and-media.