Through storytelling, I believe we not only hold up an image of ourselves, as a social collective, but we actually give form and shape to that very image. Narrative reflects, crystallizes and enforces categories through which we may come to understand the self. As an actress, I found myself frustrated by the canon of roles offered to young women; they all seemed to derive from the same stock prototype, that of the vulnerable, weak, victimized by circumstance, wistful doe-eyed creature shaking in the shaping hands of some powerful male figure or force. We, as women, are more than that, and we always have been. Our male counterparts however, I feel too have been unjustly misrepresented and therefore cheated, abstracted and inaccurately simplified by a great mass of contemporary narrative content.
The simple fact is men, too, are well equipped with the capacity to experience loss, sadness, shame, injustice and the process of registering these emotional experiences is perhaps as equally dark and difficult for them as it is, and as we accept it to be, for women. And so, in The Dark Side Of The Sun, I wanted to paint a portrait, to put it simply – of a man victimized by circumstance, reversing the prototypical gender roles at play within the specific context here of casting couch sexploitation in Hollywood.
This recent outpouring of revelations, the unveiling of scandalously unethical behavior long practiced in silence by the titans of this very industry, is, in a word, remarkable. Two years ago, when I first wrote The Dark Side of The Sun, the space to discuss and share one’s experience of sexual exploitation simply did not seem to exist in any kind of accessible, significant way. I made this film with the precise intent to create that very space, to pull back the thick lush curtain on the entertainment industry, to perforate the forces of fear that protect these figureheads who once, not too long ago, were free to proceed unchecked. But as somebody who fights ferociously for the positive in all things in life, it was hugely important to me that this ambition, this desire to express truth that I knew intimately and personally, took form in a project that was most definitively proactive, collaborative, and creative. This film is without question autobiographical, though I feel that’s not of its essence, because the reality is that it expresses truth, not only my truth, but the truth so many know, as we now all know.
That communal element, as represented in the shared knowledge of its narratives’ authenticity, for me, needed to define the project itself. This film is truly the product of the partnership between all involved; it was made essentially possible by the generosity of time, spirit, and talent of each and every one of its participants. I feel unbelievably grateful to this team of hugely special individuals in London who worked with me to take something essentially dark, and sad, and unfortunate, and turn it into something that I hope many can connect to, for a whole gorgeously wide variety of reasons. It’s not simply a film about casting couch sexploitation, or a young man confronted with circumstances beyond his control, but it also endeavors to illuminate the fundamental complexity of the twenty-something experience, and the definitively fickle role truth itself often plays in all of that. I hope that we’ve succeeded in making a film grounded in the gravity of its socio-political intent, but also a piece that is at once entertaining, enjoyable, and at times, comical. I hope it reads as a film not just for those interested or connected to the entertainment business in particular, but rather, that it strikes a chord for all artists and creatives. I hope that it achieves the magical power of storytelling, that is, the ability to make us feel, most simply less alone, as we run along the winding, dimly-lit roads that we can only hope will lead us to our own little bright lands of hopes and dreams.
Here is an exclusive US premiere of the short film ‘THE DARK SIDE’ by talented international DJ, Actress and Filmmaker SAMANTHA MICHELLE. This is her first dramatic short, and it was accepted into the Cannes Film Festival Short Film Corner and has screened internationally at various festivals including NewFilmmakers NY, EuroShorts, and The Groucho Club Short Film Festival. InStyle UK launched the film’s trailer and named Samantha the “filmmaker to watch” in their “FUTURE 15” anniversary issue spread.
Originally from Toronto, Canada, Samantha moved to New York City at the age of 17. Directed by her love of music, she began her tour of nightlife and her passion for cinema and storytelling, and later graduated from NYU and Oxford University where she studied dramatic literature, politics, and art. She has also studied European history, art history, sociology and drama at Herford College, Oxford University. After graduating in 2011, she moved to Los Angeles where she began her career as an actress, and has worked internationally on feature films. Her love of music and inclinations towards all things rock-n-roll surface in her work as a filmmaker and all-around storyteller. Her glamourous aesthetic, whilst nodding to a bygone era, ultimately reflects her own individualized and vividly irreverent approach to creative expression, and as she continues to make films and tell stories, she’s creating a narrative-oriented content designed to bridge the worlds of cinema and commerce. Her first fashion film for the iconic 70s shoe cobbler Terry De Havilland was selected as a finalist for the ELLE Canada Fashion Film Competition.