Written, directed and produced by
Makenna Guyler & Carla McGlynn
Drama / Thriller with surreal elements
Erica is a feature-length, dark surrealistic drama centred around three women hovering between self-destruction, catharsis, and survival. The film touches on themes like maternity, dealing with loss and grief, mental health, and baby loss.
A distraught expectant mother is running away from an abusive home to ensure the safety of her unborn child - only to find that the one thing she cannot leave behind is her fear.
Erica, a distraught expectant mother, is running away from her abusive home to ensure the safety of her unborn child.
Lost in the woods, she encounters two women living in a cabin - the half-sisters June and Ghita. An eeriness seems to surround the place, and soon Erica learns that the sisters are struggling with more than just survival.
As Erica and Ghita start to form a strange bond, a downward spiral sets in motion: Ghita's mental condition deteriorates, while Erica experiences severe complications in her pregnancy.
Soon, both June and Erica are confronted with their greatest fear when it becomes clear that Ghita's and Erica's lives are mysteriously intertwined…
Erica is based on the short drama Sacrifice (2019).
Magdalena Herfurtner is a German producer, writer, and performer, resident in London.
She is currently in development and production of several feature and short films, amongst them the short dramas Sacrifice and Trinette (both 2019) and the features Somewhere In-between (2020) and Erica (2020).
Magdalena has been trained as an actress and classical singer at University of Music and Performing Arts in Munich/Germany. In 2015, she relocated to London where she took screenwriting classes at Central Film School. That same year, she became Quarter-Finalist of the Shore Scripts Screenwriting Competition with her feature film script Walking on the Flatline.
She co-produced the multi-award-winning short film The Power of One Coin (2018), line-produced Sergei Alexander's feature debut Beneath Desire (2019) and recently has released several ambient EPs as Madil Hardis.
Magdalena has over 15 years of stage and studio experience in Germany and the UK, and has been part of various theatre productions including Die schöne Lau at Isny Opera Festival and Der Kaiser von Atlantis at Gasteig Munich.
She recently starred in the experimental short film Sacrifice and will be playing one of the lead roles in the upcoming feature adaptation of the short, Erica.
Carla is an Irish actress based in London. She is a recent graduate of Royal Central School of Speech and Drama.
In Dublin she was among the first actors to start up the Actors Studio in Bow Street Academy, training under renowned acting coach Gerry Grennell and working with directors such as Jim Sheridan and Kirsten Sheridan.
She has worked on both stage and screen from Shakespeare to Tenessee Williams to new writing from emerging talent. Screen work which has taken her from the 18th century through the 60's, 70's to present day and psychological horrors to comedy includes King of the Travellers, Love and Friendship, The Girls, Getting There and Look Closer.
Makenna is an award winning actress and producer. She began studying at local theatre school Diamond School of Performing Arts from a young age, where she fell in love with performance. She went onto train with Mary Doherty at the prestigious ‘The Actors Class’ in central London, and became a member of the alumni in 2018.
She went on to forge her path in the film world, and can be seen in various Netflix & Lionsgate features working alongside BAFTA cast & crew. This year alone, Makenna was at Cannes starring in 3 separate feature films including ‘Hobbes House’ (co-lead role), ‘Blood Bags’ (Lead role- sold internationally in numerous territories), and ‘The Barge People’ (supporting role- Sold Out FrightFest selection).
In 2019, she has taken on lead roles in both Juliane Blocks latest feature film (alongside ‘Braveheart’s Mhairi Calvey), and in Adam Wilsons’ feature film ‘Crawl To Me Darling’, which she also produced and is currently in post production.
WHY WE WANT TO MAKE THIS FILM
“When I started developing the initial concept for this feature, little did I know how much of my own experience would be making its way into the plot. There was something inexplicable that attracted me to the subject - and so I simply followed my instincts and kept digging.
What I found - and what became my biggest inspiration for Erica - was a piece of myself that had been missing for a long time.
Ten years ago, when I was in my early twenties, I had a miscarriage in the first trimester of my pregnancy. Back then, I didn’t talk about this with anyone. I dealt with the pain and grief I felt all by myself - and I locked it away. I felt so many contrasting emotions: sadness, guilt, desperation, fear, shame - and a lot of physical pain.
Looking back at this experience now - and looking around at family members and friends who had similar experiences - I wish for anyone who has or had to go through something like this that they know they can openly talk about their feelings with the people they love and that they don’t feel like they have to hide what happened to them from society or to erase it from their history.
This film aims to explore themes like maternity, dealing with loss and grief, and mental health, and to give an insight into the experience of baby loss. Based on our personal experiences as well as extensive research, we developed the film with the aim to reach audiences worldwide and help to pave the way for more conversations and openness in regards to this topic.”
"Having worked with Magdalena previously I have seen how she deals with difficult subject matter beautifully without shying away from any area. Her unique writing style lends itself wonderfully to complex subjects.
I was drawn to this film because this is something that people very close to me have directly experienced. To be there when a loved one is going through such grief but feels that they cannot speak openly because it is still seen as a taboo subject is heart breaking.
I am looking forward to giving a voice to the voiceless and creating a truthful and artistic representation of a situation that is so real for so many. I believe that this film can be the start of a conversation that needs to be had."
"When I first met with Magdalena and Carla in regards to the project I couldn’t believe how blessed I was to have found them. ‘Erica’ is everything that I love about film. It’s the catalyst to what we hope is a conversation, it’s dealing with a subject that has been shamed and accepted for far too long, it’s raw and real.
Having supported friends and family through such a loss, I learned how silenced they felt, how the support through such a painful experience is so hard to find, and how it’s almost expected to be accepted as just a part of life. We want this film to challenge that, to speak for those who feel unable to, and to put a spotlight on the taboo subject of baby loss.
Magdalenas’ writing is brave, honest and powerful. She is making space in the world to allow people to be vocal and accepted for their individual journeys, and it is a joy to work alongside her and be a part of that."
Erica combines the sensual surrealism of Tom Tykwer's Perfume and Joseph Vilsmaier's Brother of Sleep, the intensity of Ang Lee's Brokeback Mountain and Julia Ducournau's Raw, and the feel and look of The Handmaid's Tale.
A contrast of (extreme) long shots and close-ups on wide lenses.
Long shots: The audience as distant observer, lost in the labyrinth of the character’s mind.
Close-ups: Unsettling intimacy; a surreal, authentic and uncomfortable POV.
Use camera movement sparingly only to follow the dynamics of the scene. Keep a crescendo in movement for the pivotal moments of the story.
Minimal, natural lighting.
A distinctly dark aesthetic throughout: At night, by use of candlelight and moonlight; during the day, trees and clouded skies shield the characters from direct sunlight.
Make use of water reflections and put movement in the light whenever possible.
A mix of dark lush greens and browns, dusty blues and greys, and glowing oranges and reds enshrouded by a vintage tinge.
The score will be composed by Madil Hardis. Listen to a selection of previous compositions here: