NARRATIVE | 15 – 20 MIN. | CAREGIVERS, COLLEGE AGE
A teenage caregiver comes to terms with the responsibility of looking after her family.
But What Does It Mean?
EXPLORE THE FILM'S MEANING →
Even when we feel that we have a sense of a film’s meaning, there is often more to uncover.
Watch this video to better understand the film and why we selected it for the festival.
CLICK TO EXPLORE THE FILM'S THEMES
Write a letter to the main character. What advice or support could you offer her to give her some solace? Share any relevant personal history that gives her a sense that she’s not alone. Are there any specific steps you think she should take to remedy the situation?
Meet the Filmmaker
ABOUT THE FILMMAKER
Yero Timi-Biu is a UK and US-based multiple award-winning writer and director for TV and film. Her 2019 BFI-funded short film, ‘Signs’ premiered at Encounters Film Festival where it won the Youth Jury Award. Yero is developing a satirical drama series, ‘The Institution’ with Abbott Vision. The series is based on her time at fashion school. She is currently being mentored by the company head, Paul Abbott. Yero is also writing a four-part psychological thriller exploring the psyche of Black women and their maternal health.
WHY THEY MADE THIS FILM
“I wrote the film SIGNS specifically for phenomenal actor, Rhianne Barreto. After seeing Rhianne play a minor role in a short film, I realised she completely encapsulated what Mariam meant to me; bold, insular, a fighter. SIGNS is a short film about a young carer with adult responsibilities, it’s based on a TV show about a wider group of young carers I have in development.
As a writer-director, I am keen to tell the stories of underrepresented groups in society. My mother was a young carer from the ages of five to eighteen. My producer and I worked with young carers and charities to ensure we were telling the singular story of Mariam’s experience in the most accurate light.
It’s a joy to be able to say that the finished film looks exactly how I pictured it when writing it. The film’s themes centre on loneliness and isolation, it’s also a coming-of-age tale. I wanted to explore what it’s like to be on the cusp of adulthood, but you are in fact still a child. Mariam already feels like a grown-up but has been deprived of a childhood. She’s both a young woman, and also non-white. As an Asian teen, both Mariam and Black social worker Phoebe touch on the idea of the culture of duty within non-white communities. It was an important aspect to highlight this.
My favourite scenes are Mariam bathing her little sister, Noor and also the next scene where she’s giggling with her best friend, Ade. This juxtaposition shows the reality Mariam has of juggling both worlds and not necessarily knowing how to navigate them either. Tonally, I made sure there was a lot of light in the script and in the way in which we approached majority of the scenes with Mariam and Noor. Although it’s a sad story, it’s a hopeful one too.
SIGNS is excitedly my narrative live-action directorial debut. I’ve sat with the character of Mariam for years now, and it was easy to bring to her to life. I had a spectacular team of women in production behind me – a completely outstanding producer, 1st AD, production manager, production co-ordinator and even got my sister onboard.
SIGNS’ cinematographer, Olan Collardy was perfect for the role. Not only does he know how to light dark-skin beautifully, but he understood the tone of the script. We worked together in tandem and made sure we were a partnership, rather than him being someone to simply just film the story. Most of the shots are tight close-ups and at most, medium shots (apart from the exteriors) to show the claustrophobic environment Mariam is trapped in. Actor Rhianne made sure she isolated herself on set to stay in that exact frame of mind.
I’m looking forward to being able to share the film to raise awareness of the incredibly resilient young carers in the world that just get on with their situation, and to also showcase the work of an extremely talented cast and crew.”
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ABOUT THE UNLONELY PROJECT
The UnLonely Project broadens public awareness of the negative physical and mental health consequences of loneliness while also promoting creative arts-based approaches to reduce the burden. Click here for mental health resources.