Definition August 2024 - Web


T he truth will out,” wrote William Shakespeare. Like many of the playwright’s famous idioms, the line holds timeless appeal; some 400 years later, director Vika Evdokimenko explores this same premise in her short film Truth Serum . Evdokimenko and writer Oliver Shuster – who co-run AnfanTerrible Productions – based the short on a song of the same name by Smog. “It’s a fantastic song,” she shares. “It’s fairly narrative and dreamy, getting at the absurd and contradictory nature of truth.” One day, as they were singing along to the lyrics (Evdokimenko and Shuster are married), they realised that “this scenario of a truth serum at a party would make for a killer film!” NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH Truth Serum follows a cohort of friends, acquaintances and colleagues as they accidentally ingest a secret-spilling drug. The short film gets at “the lies we tell, the masks we wear and the personas we

hide behind,” shares Evdokimenko. For her, “the characters truly popped off the page. Oliver is a great writer,” she beams, “and it’s my privilege to be able to direct some of his writing.” Using the film as a litmus test for crew compatibility, Evdokimenko wrangled a casting director (Timothy Evans) who managed to get the now- quite-famous Richard Gadd on board, along with cinematographer Lorena Pagés, editor Monika Radwanska and composer Cora Miron – all of whom were first-time collaborators. “The whole premise of our production company is to build a film family, a roster of people we can come back to in our future projects,” she explains. As AnfanTerrible’s first post-Covid production, Truth Serum was largely a passion project that operated on a limited budget. “It was hard to shoot a movie in London because everyone was desperate,” Evdokimenko recounts, “and everyone was busy. The bigger projects were nabbing a lot of people.”

For Evdokimenko, it was an especially stressful moment, as she was seven months pregnant at the time. “The thinking behind it all was: ‘We must do it this summer, otherwise we’ll never get it done.’” The film was finished in 2022 and premiered at the Cambridge Film Festival, though its 21-minute runtime proved an unexpected obstacle. “It never properly took off on the festival circuit as we had hoped,” Evdokimenko admits. “We received many rejections; we were quite discouraged.” The short film, which co-stars Richard Gadd from the recent Netflix hit Baby Reindeer , has since seen a renaissance. “Now, festivals are coming to me asking, ‘Can we screen the film?’ We’ve come full circle.” MAKING THE MOST The third short produced by AnfanTerrible, Truth Serum possesses a significantly larger cast than its previous projects, proving to be a lesson in ensembles

Director Vika Evdokimenko delves into her latest short film – a darkly comedic exploration of characters shaped by secrets as a societal norm

WORDS Katie Kasperson IMAGES AnfanTerrible Productions



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