‘Untold Histories of The Wicker Man’ – by Samantha Hadley

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Hi, I’m Samantha and I’m going into my second year studying English Literature. Something I loved about first year was the variety of my classes – from discussing digital graphic novels and having drama workshops to participating in more traditional poetry seminars, I have really enjoyed learning so many new skills in my degree so far. I decided to apply for a CRI (Collaborative Research Internship) because I wanted to continue to enrich my studies over the summer and gain some work experience in the academic sector to help me decide about my future career path. I got the opportunity to work on Dr Chris Nunn’s Project ‘Untold Histories of The Wicker Man’ project in the Department of Film and Creative Writing. Essentially, we had to help get “Wickermania”, the documentary our leader Chris Nunn was producing, closer to being released. This included editing, social media promotion, fundraising, copyright claims and sending the documentary to film festivals. “Wickermania” was about the making of “The Wicker Man”, a cult classic 1970’s horror film (although I had not heard of it before the internship!), centering around two sons (Justin and Dominic Hardy) of the original director learning more about their father and his film. I was intrigued (and a little confused!) by this initial information, as I am interested in film and how creatives construct their art. I had never done fundraising or anything like that before, so I was excited to learn more professional skills.

After my first watch of The Wicker Man

The sense of community I felt amongst my fellow English students made me feel more confident that I would make friends during my CRI. Although the initial information I received stated that there would only be one other intern, I was lucky enough to be working alongside 4 other committed and friendly interns due to the high level of interest in the project. We specified our interests and availability at the CRI launch event – my interests were editing, fundraising and social media – and had a group discussion with Chris Nunn about the themes of the documentary. Sadly, that was the only time I got to see my group in person during the CRI, as I couldn’t attend the group screening of the working cut of the documentary as I was on holiday. That would be something I’d change about my CRI experience – I’d make more of a conscious effort to meet up with the other interns to work in a library together over the summer. However, once the documentary is finally finished and released (estimated December 2023), Chris Nunn has invited us all to the premiere screening so we can meet the Hardy brothers, so it will be interesting to hear about the other interns’ experiences and see all our hard work pay off!

My involvement with “Wickermania” consisted of creating social media posts to promote the documentary and the Kickstarter which was raising money for copyright and festival costs. I was grateful for this role as from September I am going to be Press & Publicity Officer for Infinity Stage Company, a Guild drama society, so now I feel a lot more confident about the role! I used Canva to create Instagram posts, stories and reels. I was given access to a working cut of the documentary to create clips and stills to feature in my posts, and the intern who did the first half of the social media work created a brand hub which made it a lot easier to make my posts have a coherent aesthetic. The most intense part of my internship was the day the Kickstarter ended, as Chris decided to have a final surge of promotion to encourage more people to donate. We started the day £19k under our fundraising goal of £25k, and I was preparing to make a very tactful post sidestepping the fact we were significantly below our goal, when another intern on our group chat alerted everyone to a very sizeable donation which had just been made. This made us all excited, and I spent the rest of the day making Instagram posts counting down to the deadline of 7pm, encouraging people to donate by highlighting the different rewards we had on our Kickstarter if you donated amounts like £25 or £1000. Additionally, I emphasized the importance of supporting independent filmmakers, and highlighted upcoming screenings of “The Wicker Man” in cinemas in the hope that they would repost our fundraiser. Throughout the day, we watched the donation total increase, thanks to my social media posts and Chris getting his friends and colleagues to donate. When we hit the £25,000 total just before 7pm, everyone was so happy! I felt proud of myself and fulfilled in my work, and it was an amazing way to end my internship.

One of the social media posts I made as an intern.

Overall, I learnt a lot of while being a Collaborative Research Intern, from time management skills to working within a branded aesthetic. It was invaluable to me because I met some great people and broadened my career prospects significantly! I can’t wait to see how “Wickermania!” turns out.

Samantha Hadley, BA English