The Velvet Abstract – James Hughes – UK

A Short Film About the Environmental Age from a Team Spanning Six Continents.

Director Biography – James Hughes

In his career, James has directed over 200 actors, and his short films have screened at 175 film festivals — his first three films were all BAFTA qualifying short films.

James has also been a Speaker for BAFTA, the Screenwriting Expo in Los Angeles, and numerous film festivals.

He was hired to direct a theatre show in Tuscany to a live audience of 4000. Shortly after, he was employed as a Story Analyst for a Los Angeles based talent agency, where he wrote story reports for their feature film department for almost a year.

His writing successes have seen him sell three feature film screenplays, and serve on the Film Committee and Executive Committee of The Writers’ Guild of Great Britain.

James has just released two new short films. The first of these, The Sands of Time, features an ensemble cast, including Olivia Williams (The Sixth Sense). The second, When the Rain Sets In, won a pitching contest on stage at BAFTA, and is edited by the Oscar Nominated Editor of Green Book.

He recently wrapped on his feature debut, the documentary, Life Inverted, after shoots in New York, London, Minneapolis, and Seattle. The film will be released in April.

James has now been selected by BAFTA to be part of their BAFTA Crew programme for 2021.

Director Statement

Upon watching a climate change documentary, I saw an image of a multi-layered atmosphere of gases and pollution that had given the clouds a texture resembling that of velvet. Combined with this image was that of mankind endlessly debating abstract theories on how to solve Earth’s problems but never seeming to agree on the best solutions for survival. These two strands of thought gave birth to the title of the film and its production.

I chose to write a poem to voice the environmental concerns facing mankind, with each line focusing on a different aspect: whether it is the detrimental damage being caused, or the distractions the human race wallows in, to avoid taking responsibility. By splitting these stanzas into two interwoven sections, it allowed for a dramatic build of prose towards a poignant final message.

Combined with this narrated poem, I designed twenty-six sequences to accompany each line with every sequence colored with the same cinematographic style of dark purple throughout the film. This purple symbolizes the stain of mankind on the planet – a bruised Earth.

I then hired artists from six continents, to work on the sequences individually from their own studios. I was fortunate to secure some of the leading CG artists in the world, from The Hunger Games, Star Wars, Avatar, Game of Thrones, The Martian, any many more.

A global project, by global collaborators, with a global message.

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