A ‘Shepherd’ guides us towards a vision of the future. But what if that vision is a lie? Will the lie set you free? Shepherd is a film about Yi, a young woman who fears the uncertainty of the future. She adopts Shepherd: an experimental medical technology in the form of a leech, designed to stabilise emotions. Shepherd shows Yi visions of her deepest desires: a stable relationship and motherhood. Yi becomes increasingly dependent on these visions, creating her internal struggle between Shepherd’s happy lies, and the painful reality of her own failed relationship. Shepherd is a psychological thriller, with a gritty, existential aesthetic like Jonathan Glazer’s 2013 “Under the skin”. Shepherd represents the ambiguous nature of technology, reflecting and amplifying Yi’s subconscious desires and flaws. In Shepherd we see a God of Yi’s own creation, and the horror that brings. Shepherd is not about the negative effects of technology. Shepherd is not just about how technology is a mirror, reflecting our own nature. Shepherd is about the human need for destiny and purpose; to believe in a vision of the future. It’s about what happens when we permit technology to fulfil these needs; to become our Shepherd.
Shepherd follows the narrative of Psalm 23, turning each verse upside-down, revealing what might happen if we replace the good shepherd with a relationship or technology. In Act 1, we see the opposite of peace in Yi’s co-dependent relationship. Rather than lacking nothing, she is in constant need and filled with anxiety. In Act 2, Shepherd guides Yi along paths she wants but does not necessarily need, giving her brief moments of happiness but not lasting contentment. She walks the darkest valley of a cheating boyfriend, afraid, becoming dependant on Shepherd. Her decision not to kill John is driven by her fear of not having him or a child. In Act 3, she finds herself in the “house of the Lord” – Shepherd’s visions, built on what she wants, not what will actually happen: a lie, where she may dwell forever if she cannot escape. The music accompanying my pitch, John Tavener’s “The Bridegroom”, was a great inspiration for how I adapted Psalm 23. Performed in two parts, the choir longs for the bridegroom to return, as Yi longs for a good shepherd, while the response of the bridegroom in the strings expresses the serenity of allowing God to lead.