It’s early April and Thomas Hamill has just completed a four-day shoot at Dalkeith Mining Museum in Midlothian, working with a crew of fifteen film students from all years across the course. His film, Caravans, is a dark, absurd drama that follows two brothers who live in two caravans opposite each other in the middle of nowhere. The brothers are chained to their respective caravans and the film explores how this affects their relationship.
According to Thomas his film is inspired by a situation he found himself in last summer when a brother of one of his close friends in Ireland was experiencing a period of psychosis. “I was talking to him from Edinburgh, trying to help him, whilst he was trying to help his brother. It was a tricky thing. His brother has since recovered thankfully. It was an upsetting time, but it felt like an important experience to respond to.”
A literal retelling of the story wasn’t something that interested Thomas. “It didn’t feel appropriate to confront the issues this had raised in a literal way. The experience was complex. Mental illness adversely affects relationships; the chains came to represent the divide that was created between these two brothers during the psychosis. Slowly the film became about the things in life beyond our control that change our lives, consciously or not. It’s useful to dig into these things.”
To help him with his film, Thomas has been able to call upon the services of his student crew. Working on final year students’ projects is an integral part of learning for students throughout the first three years of the programme. Now that he’s in fourth year, all his hard work assisting other graduating students in years gone by is paying off: “Having a crew is an amazing thing and such a support.”