Director of Absent, Aysha Scott, tells the story of a broken home through film. New in the directing industry, she addresses the issue of absent fathers after she was inspired by her own life events to pursue message-based storytelling.

We caught up with the director to ask her about the film, the storyline without spoilers and what it meant to her personally to create a picture like this.

Briefly tell us about the storyline? 

Okay, basically it follows ‘Angel Washington’, a feisty, ambitious and driven, 32-year-old who is a go-getter. Hailing from humble beginnings in south London, she has her own blossoming career goals when she meets ‘Marcus’, a 35-year-old, handsome man with an equally attractive career. Deeply in love, ‘Angel’ bears ‘Marcus’s’ child, ‘Joshua’. All seems well to begin with but ‘Marcus’ finds that the balance between the commitment and sacrifices that family life demands and the backdrop of his glamorous, city stockbroker lifestyle, is one that he can’t live up to and ‘Marcus’ leaves ‘Angel’ to a life she’d never envisioned, that of single parenthood. In conflict and pain, with her life spiralling out of control ‘Angel’ takes us on a journey of what happens when fathers leave their children and families and the destructive, painful explosive consequences that follow.

Absent Tiana Benjamin
Tiana Benjamin (Angel)

Tell us about your previous film experience? 

I embarked on a journey into filmmaking after discovering a gap in the market for black female characters during my career as an actress. Too often after my auditions I was left feeling typecast and restricted to stories that I craved to watch on the big screen. It was during a difficult time in my life, when I was left to raise my 10-week-old son alone that I took the plunge to change careers to pursue my passion for message-based storytelling.

I’ve co-written and produced a feature film called Residential that premiered at the British Urban Film Festival in 2016 and was nominated for three awards in BUFF 2017, including best feature film. I successfully wrote and produced an award-winning short film ‘It Still Hurts’ under my own production company A Scott Productions and most recently produced ‘Voice of Reason’ alongside US award-winning director Antoine Allen. Absent; The Cycle Of A Broken Home is my directorial debut and is a screenplay I wrote based on my experiences as a single mother.

Why did you want to make this film? 

I wanted to challenge the stereotypes about single mothers, and to give a voice to the women who find themselves without help and unable to let go of their anger. I also think it’s time to shed light on the taboo subject of absent parenting to help us to learn about the true impact that it has on us; allowing us to identify learned behaviours and the repetition of generational cycles relating to absent parenting in a film.

It was imperative to tell the story from the standpoint of a single mother, as this view is often conveyed through a male perspective. Ninety per cent of the time it’s the woman who is left holding the baby. However, saying that, ABSENT is not a film that will isolate the absent father, but a film that covers the many different dynamics of the broken home including how the effects differ in race, class and gender as well as the different scenarios of how and why a parent may become absent.

Absent Film Poster

What support have you had so far?

ABSENT is in its third year of development and now in the early stages of pre-production. Over the years we have had numerous support from the media and also the public championing us to get the message out and bring forth the necessary debate. Being a film that tackles a political, social issue, it hasn’t been the easiest of films to make, but I believe we are now at the heights of the production where the subject matter has become more widely spread and the topic is highly relevant. More and more people are vocalising their stories and the impact that an absent parent had or has on one’s life, opening up a broader audience for the film.

What will be the main challenges in making the film? 

The main challenges for making ABSENThands down has got to be raising finances. But you also have the challenge of keeping the cast and crew on board whilst developing the production and in the process of securing funds, as they tend to get booked for other jobs and depending on the role, it can have implications with scheduling and when you can actually shoot.

Many will relate to the topic of absent father, what research did you carry out to write the script?

As the film is based on my real life events and my own experiences of an absent father and the abandonment of my child from his father, the film heavily relies on realism and did not require a great deal of research. It’s a very raw, truthful hard-hitting drama with relatable themes that many will identify with.

Needless to say, going through some of my experiences, I became a member of many single parent groups and organisations, which enabled me to gain a different stance of child abandonment from various cultures and social classes. However, living and breathing the experience myself was enough for me to come up with a screenplay that carries the weight and truth of the circumstance surrounding parental absence.

How is the crowd-funding going? 

The crowd fund campaign for the film initially started off a little slow but is becoming more wide-spread since launching four weeks ago and we now have 68 backers behind the campaign – with a great amount of support from family and friends. Generally speaking a crowd-fund requires a lot of work, and now with algorithms set in place on social media platforms restricting self-promotion it has certainly become a lot harder.

But we are pushing through with our marketing and have been coming up with a more creative approach in marketing the campaign. Our ‘£1 Film Challenge’ in particular was very successful with getting the public to part with their funds, as we spoke to the community urging them to get behind the campaign with a little as £1 –  it had a great outcome.

How can people support the crowd-fund? 

You can support the campaign by clicking here: and making a pledge either directly or by purchasing one of our ‘Perks’ in return for you donation. You can also support by sharing the link or simply by spreading the word.

When can we expect to watch the film?

The film will be available to the public in the cinemas by Jan 2019, however the film will be released on the festival circuit and private industry screenings in October 2018.

Learn more about the film below

Absent: The Cycle Of A Broken Home from Aysha Scott on Vimeo.

Twitter, Instagram and Facebook Handles: @absentmovieuk

A Scott Productions: www.ascottproductions.com

 

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