Private Project


Daniel, a tormented teenager suffering from a recent trauma finds himself at his usual skate spot with his so-called friends. After an attempt to find reassurance in his peer, he is shut down and forced to suppress his affliction. He then tries to recollect his masculinity through a transparent interaction with a girl, Emily, who is seemingly interested in him. When she sees through his lustful intentions, his attempt fails. He pushes his defeat aside and skates with his friends. Subsequently, Emily overhears a conversation revealing Daniel's truth - his mother's suicide. A rise in tension occurs whilst the boys skate as Daniel holds a grudge against his peer. In a release of pent up anger and guilt, Daniel lashes out at his peer, solely with the intention for him to react and attack him. After a short brawl and now sympathising with Daniel, Emily stays sat as everyone else disperses. After some time, Emily gets up and walks over to Daniel in the empty car park. She helps him up and they walk away side-by-side. We watch the empty car park. Statistics for male suicide rates materialise on the screen, warning of the alarming realities of toxic masculinity.

  • Shay Kelly
  • Shay Kelly
  • Jacob Barton
  • Aaron Katambay
    Key Cast
  • Nell Weik-Clark
    Key Cast
  • Shay Kelly
    Key Cast
  • Project Type:
    Short, Student
  • Runtime:
    11 minutes 16 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    May 25, 2019
  • Production Budget:
    100 GBP
  • Country of Origin:
    United Kingdom
  • Country of Filming:
    United Kingdom
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Director Biography - Shay Kelly

Shay Kelly is a filmmaker based in Hertfordshire, UK. He is currently studying film production at Arts University Bournemouth and is set to graduate in 2021. Shay has written, directed and edited 4 short films with positive online feedback. He has worked in standby props on Netflix's 'The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance' in 2017 and worked on multiple other smaller projects since then. Shay takes inspiration for his projects from his youth as a skater in his local town and abundance of interesting people he has met along the way. Shay's dream is to one day shoot a feature length drama film based around youth culture.

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Director Statement

I began writing Flatground in late 2018. As a man below average height I have faced my fair share of short jokes and experienced low self esteem at times. Aside from this, I have faced intense periods of anxiety as a man of any stature. Realising my instinctual urge to suppress my emotions when upset or insecure, I acknowledged I was falling victim to the archetypal characteristics of toxic masculinity.

With this film I hoped to explore mental health, depression and the sometimes unfortunate fate to which it leads - suicide. My goal as a director was to expose the toxic cycle which our society falls into and the way it stems from childhood. Toxic masculinity is especially prominent in youth culture as I have experienced in my teens.

The story itself displays toxic masculinity from start to finish through the multiple interactions Daniel engages in. The opening scene shows his distant relationship with his brother during their time of grieving. Daniel and his brother both blame themselves for not preventing their mother's suicide. Daniel's brother is stern and harsh towards him, showing no sign of love or compassion.

While at his usual skate spot, Daniel attempts to find reassurance in a peer and begins to open up. When he is shut down he feels emasculated and offended. He tries to distract himself and regain his masculinity by pursuing Emily. Here, another toxically masculine trait is displayed - pursuing women in a purely sexual way and treating them as objects. When this fails, Daniel's last act of toxic masculinity is resorting to violence and aggression. He feels as though he has no one to confide in and his pent up emotions cannot be contained. In his release of guilt, he demands to be harmed, as if to be punished.

By the end of the film, in his daze of confusion, Daniel is still victim to toxic masculinity in a relentless society that doesn't let up. This is a statement that says something needs to change. This young man is going down the same path as his mother at an even quicker rate.