pinch me

In a library, on the night before a university student leaves for a new life, her friends share their dreams. As each tale emerges, her premonition grows that something is not right.

  • Michael A Mclennan
    A Tea Party for Sad People, Traveller, Go Quickly
  • Michael McLennan
    Go Quickly, The Highwayman, Why We Trade, Traveller
  • Cat Sole
    Panopticon, How to write a screenplay, The 11:59 to Washington Square
  • Michael McLennan
    Standby, Traveller, A Tea Party for Sad People
  • Anjelica Murdaca
    Key Cast
  • Declan Montgomery
    Key Cast
  • Maddison Lamb
    Key Cast
  • Henry Taylor
    Key Cast
  • Project Type:
  • Genres:
    Mystery, Coming of age
  • Runtime:
    20 minutes
  • Completion Date:
    April 30, 2021
  • Production Budget:
    20,000 AUD
  • Country of Origin:
  • Country of Filming:
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • Long Story Shorts International Film Festival

  • Film in Focus Festival
    August 31, 2021
    Official Selection; Best Original Screenplay (Nominee); Best Original Score (Nominee)
Director Biography - Michael A Mclennan

Michael McLennan is an Australian-based writer/director whose short films have played at film festivals around the world. These films include ‘Standby’, ‘A Tea Party for Sad People’, ‘Go Quickly’, ‘Small Things’, ‘Magpie’ and ‘Why We Trade’. He was Head of Production and Head of Film at Sydney Film School, where he taught Screen Language, Writing, Post-Production and Creativity, and supervised over 400 short films made at the School. In 2009 he founded the Secret Film Society, producing ten short films over the subsequent two years. He has also worked as producer, director of photography, editor, sound designer and music editor. He currently has three feature scripts in development, and teaches film at the Academy of Film Theatre and Television, AFTRS, Excelsia College, Bradfield College, the Conservatorium of Music, and AIT.

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Director Statement

I met the four actors who were to be at the centre of this film in July 2020. Slowly an idea began to take shape that embodied all our fears. Four university students, played by four university students, would share their dreams, in the style of the Decameron. Each dream would be a vision of a future, of lives spent, in empty cinemas, call centres, endless video calls, at the edges of functions, re-encountering old faces that no longer knew us, always feeling like they hadn't made it. Except for the fourth student, central to all their dreams, whose departure from the comfort zone of the group was imminent.

It was a mysterious premise, and enchanted us all. The extraordinary art cinema of the 1960s - Hiroshima Mon Amour and Persona - were early references. Equally though, so were the dialogue rhythms of Aaron Sorkin. The film language of dreams is a wonderful thing. Looking back on the film, it's surprising how many touchstones slipped into the work. Some we knew about, like 2046, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Arrival, Malick and I am Love. Others snuck in undetected, like Last Year at Marienbad, Lynch and La Jetee.

Rasmus's work as cinematographer is exceptional, proof if any was needed of the thoughtfulness of his aesthetic. From the light of consciousness that hovers above their heads of each dreamer to the complex balance of symmetry and asymmetry within each scene, he brought so much to this film.

Emily's work as designer - aided by Taleece and Nichola - compliments all the locations. The library as realised on screen is a major achievement by that team.

Jesse Watt's music is a major work, navigating the diegetic barrier with agility and finding the right balance of momentum, scale, intimacy and mystery to each moment.

As an editor, I've never been more blessed with material, and able to bring together ideas about storytelling, montage rhythm and sound/music design.

Above all, I thank the actors. For their openness to be themselves on screen, and yet somehow also be the many other people they had to play as well. They were wonderful allies, in particular through the long journey of audio post-production.

As this film was gestating, one of the few major cinematic releases of 2020 exhorted its audience - 'Don't try to understand it, just try to feel it'. It was not always clear that - remarkable though it was - the film in question played this thought out, and we were compelled to hold to this mantra ourselves. I feel this is realised in the work. The exact meaning of Pinch Me may differ depending on who the viewer is, but whatever that meaning is, they will feel it.