Shadow Over The Sun
Shadow Over the Sun is a short atmospheric drama set in colonial New Zealand. It is a brief window into the world of a colonial woman and new mother. Into a beautiful day, the recent past visits, momentarily casting a cloud across the sun.
DIRECTOR’S NOTES - Rachel Douglas
"My previous films had relied heavily on dialogue and my debut feature Blessed had eschewed many visual elements in the storytelling due to the extreme low budget. In Shadow Over the Sun I wanted to tell a story that unfolded purely in pictures and sound, without spoken dialogue.
Shadow Over the Sun was written during a writing retreat in isolated rural farm cottage in the Southern Wairarapa. In writing the script I drew on the isolated and rich natural environment, my own personal experience of grief and the literary inspiration of short story writer Katherine Mansfield (1888-1923).
Mansfield’s short stories often unfold quietly to end with a surprise twist where the story, on a subconscious level, makes complete sense – thematically and structurally. Filming the interior scenes at the Katherine Mansfield Birthplace Museum in Wellington rounded out the homage to Katherine Mansfield. “We were close to the tui, yet she sang as if her song could have no ending, as if the world was too full of the ecstasy of life for wrong and rapine to exist. The sun was shining above the flowing river, the leaves green, of every shape and shade, her great love had cast out fear.” -Early NZ ornithologist, William Herbert Guthrie-Smith
Thematically I sought to explore grief and hope and in some small way the personal rituals we construct around death. I wanted to represent these themes on a subtle level – suffering doesn’t have to be a big car crash, it can be the smallest moment where a cloud passes in front of the sun or hope can be the brief delight of birdsong. I wanted the character to acknowledge her grief but also to be able to move beyond it.
To sell the themes, I sought to create a quiet rural world from time past where isolation and quiet brings a greater awareness of the natural world around us and how this bears on an everyday life.
In working to express this authentic isolated postcolonial world (1880’s) the key creatives and myself committed to a static camera and a slow pacing for the performance and edit. In a world of fast cut, constantly moving cameras it was at first frightening and then strangely liberating to just allow the story to unfold in the time that it needed.
In a short film with no dialogue or incidental music track, the sound-scape was vital. Shadow Over the Sun sought to replicate the quiet world that our forebears lived within. We were fortunate to work with sound designer Tim Prebble to create a lush and dense soundscape. With the buzz of summer, grazing animals, New Zealand native birds calling, the tui singing, insects, rustling trees, a nearby river, the touch of fabric and the breathing of a woman and her baby."