Private Project

SEAHUT - private viewing

"The Sea Hut" is a story of uprooted people, identity, love, loss and memory which flits back and forth between my mother's childhood memories in Shanghai, 1935, with her beloved Chinese nanny, Ama, World War II England, and a fishing village in contemporary China, where a small sea hut becomes a catalyst and 'veil' between two worlds and two times: Europe and China, past and present.

  • Project Type:
    Documentary, Experimental, Feature
  • Runtime:
    1 hour 15 minutes 30 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    November 2, 2020
  • Production Budget:
    50,000 CNY
  • Country of Origin:
  • Country of Filming:
    China, France, United Kingdom
  • Language:
    Chinese, English
  • Shooting Format:
    HD. super 8
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
    Black & White and Color
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Director Biography

Adopted, I was always restless and at age 16 I left England to hitch-hike around the world. Inspired by my travels, I published various short stories, one which was adapted to film in Canada. This began my love affair with film and edgy Montreal, Canada.

A graduate of Montreal's Concordia University cinema program, I created the award-winning "Stanley Lewis Documentary Collection" on the life of my dear friend, the Montreal sculptor, Stanley Lewis.

"Dust, A Sculptor's Journey," my first full length feature is comprised from this collection and continues to play in and around Montreal. The the aim of the work to have Stanley Lewis recognized for the formidable artist he was.

My second full-length Canadian feature, "Chez Lise", is co-directed with my hometown Kent buddy, James Galwey in 2013. It follows two lovers, Deanna and Gordon who suffer from severe mental illness. It won first prize in Liège ImagéSanté for mental health, and other festivals in Canada and overseas.

I have lived in China since 2015, teaching documentary film production at the Beijing Film Academy, Qingdao Campus.

The Sea Hut 海边的小屋 , is a Chinese production.

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Director Statement

I have always been drawn to the investigative, and in the SEA HUT, I delved into my mother's young childhood in China, 1935, initially with only a few original photos to work with, till I managed to find long forgotten albums through extended family.

It is my mother's journey, and that of Mum's Chinese nanny, Ama, and her betrayal in the hands of an English family who later employed her. It is also my own journey as I was adopted, and somehow China is a link between my adoptive mother and myself, I just needed to find it. The SEA HUT is a tale within a tale.

My mother, Anne, narrates her childhood in snippets, the small and intimate memories of a young child during the war, separation from her father and Ama. The city she loved, Shanghai.

I wanted to experiment with feeling, tones and textures, and I used the camera as 'eyes,' to another world long gone. Filmed in China and England, this hybrid, hand-carved documentary uses fictional elements - reconstruction, and personal Super-8 archives, HD, drone, and highly saturated images. I used the rich Prelinger archives when I could not use family footage and stills.

Music is a large part of this work, my mother sings a lot, and the music chosen is the music she recalls and loves.

Finally, and importantly, it is a thank you to my mother for having adopted me, giving me a new life, and to the one who loved her all those years ago as her own, Ama.

I have the deepest hope, one day, someone will guide me to Ama's family so I can personally give them this film as "our" homage to her.