The National Student
The version of London that Hannah (Gemma Chan) lives in is a lonely one. Despite the size of the city, through Hannah’s eyes, we never see anyone up close.
I Am Hannah follows its titular protagonist through the trials and tribulations of dating, the pressure to have kids, and being single in your 30s. She has plenty of one-to-one interactions throughout the film, but we never see her in a group. Her world is insular – we see her in her small, one-bed flat, at her desk at work, an anonymous face in a crowded tube car. Shaky handheld camerawork emphasises this inward-looking, personal effect. However, children seem to be everywhere in this version of London. Hannah’s office building is just down the street from a primary school and we see more of its pupils than Hannah’s co-workers.
All three of the TV films in this anthology were developed with their lead actor: “It’s a democratic process,” said director Dominic Savage at a recent roundtable event. “This is about the person you want to work with and the story you want to tell together.” Gemma Chan was keen to tell a story centring around female fertility, as she felt there weren’t any stories that explored this theme on-screen.
Savage says: “It’s a lovely way of creating a piece with an actor… You’re completely in cahoots.” When you’re on the shoot, “you’re still writing, you’re still creating… We know what we want to achieve, but we don’t quite know the way we’re going to achieve it, and that’s rather wonderful.”