MPC Creative director Dan Henshaw has dipped his toes into the realm of short films.
Henshaw, an award-winning director, recently wrote and directed the powerful short film, “Hidden.” Produced by MPC Creative, the film was created for the charity, Shift.ms, a “social network for people with multiple sclerosis.” With this short, Henshaw joins a prestigious list of past filmmakers who have collaborated with Shift.ms, including BAFTA-nominated Michael Pearce.
Henshaw’s piece focuses on “the hidden symptoms of multiple sclerosis”, the unseen struggle that many individuals who have MS experience.
“Hidden” is more than just a film aimed to educate, but a high-concept work of art. Loosely inspired by a therapy technique which “encourages people to visualise their disease” as a separate entity, Henshaw’s film centres around a young woman with MS who carries around a “doppelgänger… a manifestation of the disease” in an almost phantom-like manner.
Henshaw also uses krump, a type of street dance, to convey the complex emotions experienced in the film, as he wanted to make something “that would sit well on platforms like Vice or Nowness… [that] young people would be drawn to whether or not they had any previous connection with MS.”
To add authenticity to the film, Henshaw cast professional dancers as the leads, hiring acclaimed movement director Dominant Namek who previously worked with FKA Twigs and was featured in Dazed magazine, to choreograph the dance sequences in the film. Dominant worked alongside Cathy John, an academic with MS who specialises in representations of disabilities on screen, to create abstract and confrontational routines that reflect both the symptoms and the emotional struggles often experienced by those newly diagnosed with the disease.
“Hidden” marks both Henshaw’s first short film as well as his first time writing a piece. Henshaw’s career thus far has consisted primarily of commercials and music videos, working with names such as Paulo Nutini and Roll Deep, as well as several prominent pieces of content for Adidas. His work for the Adidas “Boss Everyone” campaign has earned critical acclaim and given Henshaw two awards.
However, despite his past works, which span from fashion films to post-heavy works, Henshaw considers himself a primarily live-action director, listing his interests as “strong cinematic reportage… almost documentary-style” adding that he likes to bring that naturalistic eye to “dramatic storytelling, scripted stuff.”
“Hidden” seems to be the first step to creating such live-action works for Henshaw. Currently, Henshaw is awaiting his next large project but hopes to do “a short just for [him]” in the future.
With his strong vision, innovative ideas, and a diverse range of abilities, it’s safe to say that Henshaw’s star is shining bright.