‘Mug – An Ode to Injustice’ – Reflections from Henry Gale

Thoughts about making the film below, so check it out!

Mug’s a film I should have finished a long time ago. In fact, its been pretty much done since the summer, but something’s always kept me from hitting the render button and finally doing away with it. Although there have been many technical obstacles standing in its way, I think that maybe, for the first time, I’ve created a piece of narrative that actually meant something to me – and that its that which made it difficult to part with.

Mug’s original synopsis would’ve probably read; ‘After an old man is attacked, he looks to his past for the inspiration he needs to fight back’. The ‘old man’ in this case would have been played by my own ‘old man’, but not long after preparations for shooting were being made, he suffered a pretty serious stroke and was landed in hospital. From there on I became a lot less concerned about the outcome of this film, and much more so about the health of my Dad. There was a very real possibility, to my mind, that he was going to die, and I think that changed my perspective on things. I became more active, more caring, and when it finally came down to rewriting ‘Mug’, it opened my eyes to a new way of venting my worries onto paper.

Although I would’ve liked to keep the story the same, and find another old man to play the lead, this concern for my Dad’s health brought me back to my teenage years, and the simultaneous experiences of his cancer and my bullying. (It’s amazing how often crap like that seems to happen at the same time)

If you’ve ever been bullied, then you’ll probably be aware that fantasy’s often a part of the package. Whether that be escape by some manner of transportation, to a kinder and more forgiving world, or the broiling of impractical revenge schemes, the brain seems to use the imagination as a cushion against the cruelty. In my own case, I remember a recurring urge to punch the perpetrators in the neck – an event that would have inevitably lead to their total and utter surrender, and my unstoppable rise into popularity.

Now, of course this is something I would’ve never done (mainly because I’m not a disgusting human being, and partially because I’m a massive wettie) but I was always aware of the possibility, that if something bad enough happened to me, I probably had the potential to snap and just say ‘F**k it. My fists have a date with your oesophagus’.

This idea was where the final narrative for ‘Mug’ stemmed from. The lead became younger, his motivations clearer. Instead of a grasp for the past, as it once was, it became a coming of age story (as tragic as its ending is) told through the disparate looking glass of a teenager’s grief. I wanted to tell the audience that strength can be found in sadness, even if its only the strength to try, and not necessarily to succeed.

The funeral programme in the film, and all the photos of ‘The Mug’s father, are of my own Dad, as a reminder to myself of what I nearly lost, and that this story (as self-absorbed as it sounds) is about my own journey into manhood. As for the film’s ending, well, that’s just a nod to the unfortunate truth that my fists would’ve never met well with those necks; and that really, I don’t think I could reach anyway.

Henry Gale


One thought

  1. Wonderful film and after reading this post it’s definitely a moving moral. Hope your father is much better. It’s true how when something bad happens, all the other problems tend to happen at the same time (I know the feeling). Mug is beautifully shot, where the close ups are stunning! The editing also gives the film a sense of pacing, where we’re left with the feeling that time is running out. Great work!

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