Private Project

The Merciless Beauty

Johnny is a farmhand in the splendour of the English Lake District: he leads a life of introspection, until the strange appearance of a mysterious beautiful woman. Unsure if she's a figment of his imagination or an actual physical being, Johnny succumbs to obsession.

A sensuous, timeless tale of love, infatuation, lust and the all- consuming bittersweet melancholy of suffering and heartache, based on the narrative poem La Belle Dame Sans Merci by John Keats.

  • Michael Groom
  • Michael Groom
  • David Groom
  • Daisy Hughes
    Key Cast
    "The Beauty"
  • Richard Riddell
    Key Cast
    "Johnny Longthwaite"
  • Samuel Edward-Cook
    Key Cast
    "The Raconteur"
  • James Speakman
    Key Cast
    "The Farmer"
  • Alex Stone
  • John Dorr
  • Andrew Layfield
  • Sam Petty
    Sound Editing
  • Chiara Ugolini
    Hair & Makeup
  • Sheara Abrahams
    Costume Design
  • Project Type:
  • Genres:
    Drama, fiction, fantasy, poetic, magical realism
  • Runtime:
    14 minutes
  • Completion Date:
    January 2, 2017
  • Production Budget:
    6,000 GBP
  • Country of Origin:
    United Kingdom
  • Country of Filming:
    United Kingdom
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • Clermont-Ferrand International Short Film Festival (Short Film Market)
    February 2, 2017
  • Keswick Film Festival
    United Kingdom
    February 9, 2017
  • Sunderland Shorts Film Festival
    United Kingdom
    May 4, 2017
  • Cannes (Short Film Corner)
    May 22, 2017
  • Palm Springs International Shortfest (Short Film Market)
    Palm Springs, Florida
    United States
    June 23, 2017
  • Calcutta Cult International Film Festival
    July 10, 2017
  • Festival Tous Courts (Short Film Market)
    November 27, 2017
  • Reno Tahoe International Film Festival
    Reno, Nevada
    United States
    September 8, 2017
    Winner - Best Short Horror/Thriller
  • Sapporo International Short Film Festival & Market (Short Film Market)
    October 5, 2017
  • S.O.S. Indie Horror Film Fest
    Wheelersburg, Ohio
    United States
    October 26, 2017
  • Showroom Shorts
    United Kingdom
    November 21, 2017
  • Off-Courts (Short Film Market)
    September 7, 2017
  • TRASH International Fantastic Film Festival
    December 6, 2017
    South American Premiere
  • Speechless Film Festival
    Mankato, Minnesota
    United States
    April 12, 2018
    Minnesota Premiere
  • Myrtle Beach International Film Festival
    Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
    United States
    April 16, 2018
    South Carolina Premiere
    Runner Up - Foreign Film
  • Richmond International Film Festival
    Richmond, Virginia
    United States
    April 23, 2018
  • Derby Film Festival
    United Kingdom
    May 9, 2018
  • Beertown Film Festival
    Burton upon Trent
    United Kingdom
    May 26, 2018
  • Florence Short Film Festival
    June 14, 2018
    Italian Premiere
  • Cape Fear Independent Film Festival
    Wilmington, North Carolina
    United States
    June 14, 2018
    North Carolina Premiere
    Runner Up: Best Short
  • H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival - Providence
    Providence, Rhode Island
    United States
    August 19, 2018
    New England Premiere
  • Film Fest 52
    Bethel, Connecticut
    United States
    September 5, 2018
  • Portobello Film Festival
    United Kingdom
    September 1, 2018
    London Premiere
  • Vox Popular Media Arts Festival
    Thunder Bay, Ontario
    September 13, 2018
    Canadian Premiere
  • Great Lakes International Film Festival
    Erie, Pennsylvania
    United States
    September 20, 2018
  • Crested Butte Film Festival
    Crested Butte, Colorado
    United States
    September 27, 2018
    Colorado Premiere
  • H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival - Portland
    Portland, Oregon
    United States
    October 5, 2018
    West Coast Premiere
  • Ellensburg Film Festival
    Ellensburg, Washington
    United States
    October 5, 2018
    Washington Premiere
  • Ridgefield Independent Film Festival
    Ridgefield, Connecticut
    United States
    October 18, 2018
    Connecticut Premiere
    Runner Up - Best Short Horror/SciFi
  • Noosa International Film Festival
    Noosa Heads, Queensland
    October 25, 2018
    Australian Premiere
  • Witch City Horror Film Festival
    Salem, Massachusetts
    United States
    October 27, 2018
  • East Lansing Film Festival
    East Lansing, Michigan
    United States
    November 1, 2018
    Michigan Premiere
  • Muskoka Independent Film Festival
    Gravenhurst, Ontario
    October 18, 2018
  • Lamezia Film Fest
    November 13, 2018
  • Frostbiter: Icelandic Horror Film Festival
    November 23, 2018
    Icelandic Premiere
  • Brazil Cinefest
    Rio de Janeiro
    December 10, 2018
Director Biography - Michael Groom

Michael Groom grew up on the fringes of the Lake District in north west England. He has worked in the film industry since leaving York University in 2003. He cut his teeth working with director Michael Winterbottom and went on to work on many British and American films that were shot in the UK, in a variety of roles covering pre-production, production, post-production, and delivery. Most lately he assisted director David Michôd, on Netflix and Plan B’s War Machine and The King.

In December 2009 his debut feature film as a writer - 'Dogging: a Love Story' - was made and released by Vertigo Films. Directed by Simon Ellis, it screened at festivals including Dublin and Rotterdam, where it was nominated for the Golden Tiger award.

Since then, Michael has had other scripts in development and has made short films, The Merciless Beauty being his most ambitious yet.

Add Director Biography
Director Statement

Filming in the Lake District

The Merciless Beauty was filmed entirely on location in the remote Lake District, 350 miles north west of London. There are quite a lot of different locations for a 14-minute film, which took a lot of planning and threw up many problems.

For instance, one morning three days into the shoot, we awoke to a blanket of snow. We went with it - the original poem has a wintry tone, so the DP quickly shot out to get some beautiful GVs. We were scheduled to film on top of a hill called Castle Crag - the kissing scene. The hike to the top took about 2 hours, and included carrying the jib and other kit. (The director carried the weights for the jib, in a bid to lead from the front. His arms were as long as Mr Tickle's by the end of the day.)

As we ascended we discovered that the snow was very localised and there was nothing on the top. We filmed the encounter and as we came to shoot the kissing scene, the snow started to fall again, almost a pathetic fallacy. It worked in the edit, augmented slightly with a helping hand from VFX company BlueBolt. Nevertheless, it's a good example of going with the unplanned and the unexpected, and embracing the results.