“An Isolated Incident” is the debut short film of The Mad Hatters’ Collective, a group dedicated to telling stories in whichever medium that suits their narrative. The film premiered on 11 July on YouTube via the The Mad Hatters’ Collective YouTube page and has since garnered a lot of attention for its topical subject matter. The production stars Harshana Rathnayaka and Tayhani Kannangara, and was filmed and edited by Dulina Chandrasiri.
Written and directed by Kovindu De Seram, the story is set in these times of the Covid-19 pandemic. The video takes focus on the very current issue of domestic violence; however things are not so cut and dry as The Mad Hatters’ Collective adopts a 360-degree approach to tell this story. The story is distinctive in that it portrays a narrative that is not limited to the person who is being subjected to the violence, but rather involves the person who is causing the abuse as well.
It is unique in its setting as it depicts the very different times we now live in and how isolation due to lockdown, external pressures due to unemployment, etc. can affect someone’s nature; how things can pile up leading someone to snap. Speaking to The Mad Hatters’ Collective Co-founder Wayne White, we found out that across the world there has been a noticeable rise in the incidence of domestic abuse as well as psychological ill-health during the lockdown, and that was essentially what they wished to explore.
A learning process
The Mad Hatters’ Collective was originally founded in 2017 by White and Reihan Stephen, two old boys of St. Joseph’s College, coming from a primarily theatre background, and the initiative has since branched out to other mediums, like film. Since its inception, starting with two theatre directors coming together, the group has grown in number to include a five-person executive consisting of the two founders and Nethmi Gunasekera, Kovindu De Seram, and Eshan Thilakasena, who overlook its productions.
Having started in theatre, White shared that it has certainly been a learning process adjusting to the new medium, but they decided to buckle down and get with it considering that despite having plans for a theatre production of their play “A Nightmare in Wonderland”, they have pushed those plans back. “These changes really affected morale and so we thought why not use this as an opportunity to learn and expand into film, create something suitable for the times,” he said.
He added: “With theatres soon opening, people will be hesitant to visit these places and so we decided to embrace this opportunity; people are more likely to consume content online rather than in person these days.”
Despite receiving very warm reception, the production was done in a small scale; this was primarily because The Mad Hatters’ Collective hopes to use this current production of An Isolated Incident and their next project titled “Unusual Suspects”, which is currently in its filming stage, as a proof of concept to hopefully finance their larger project of A Nightmare in Wonderland, for which they hope to have more bells and whistles.
White shared that they have learnt a lot during this process as they have had to make the transition from the usual eight-month rehearsal and a couple of shows in the theatre to adopting totally different dynamics and techniques. He shared that this is perfectly in line with what they as a collective want to achieve, which is to create a community where they inspire to create; to grow as a community which inspires the next writer to pen his next masterpiece, to get the next kid to make their first film on their phone, and “to not think that it’ll never happen – to just do”.