Produced by Film 4/Tapson Steel Films and broadcast by Channel 4 in 1996.

Written by Sarah Kane

Directed by Vincent O’Connell

Produced by Nick Love

Cinematography by Seamus McGarvey

Starring Ewen Bremner and Marcia Rose.

Vincent’s third short film as director, Sarah’s script provoked predictable howls of protest, but the film travelled the world and won a host of international prizes including Best Short Film at the Chicago Film Festival, and was nominated for a Golden Bear at Berlin. It tells the story of Billy, an angst-ridden skinhead, and his violent love affair with Marcia, a West Indian woman. A raw, poetic account of violent love and redemption.

Much has been written about Sarah, but Vincent has only ever participated in two interviews about her. One was a BBC Radio 4 documentary on the 10th anniversary of her death, which can be listened to here, the other was with Simon Hattenstone for The Guardian, which you can read here and part two  here

Vincent is now making a feature film which tells the story of the making of this short film. Called ‘Second Skin’, it revisits the film, the people involved in making it, and the themes that arise from that. It is also a reflection on the too short life of Sarah Kane.

And here’s a version of the film that created all the fuss…(cleaner version now uploaded).

Comments are open below, as there seems to be a demand for discussion on this film.

SKIN from Vincent O’Connell on Vimeo.

7 Comments Skin

  1. Michele Polo

    Once a year, I remember how me too I was choked with emotion from the very first time I saw your great work. Will you eventually upload a better digital version? Thanks anyway, ciao

    1. Vincent O'Connell

      Michele, thank you for you response. Yes, I do intend to upload a better version soon, the site is in a constant state of improvement, and first I just want to get material uploaded, and then eventually to deliver the best versions I can. You are obviously aware this version leaves much to be desired. Thank you for your interest – and your emotion!

  2. Corentin Houdebine

    Hi. Great movie!
    I just watched it because we talked in class about sarah Kane this afternoon, focusing on “4.48 Psychosis”. For now, I’m not really confortable with her plays yet, but this movie makes her work more “understandable”.
    I also used to be a movie student, and I’d like to know how has been your relationship with Sarah Kane on this work. Did she take part of the directing and you of the writing?
    Thank you anyway

    1. Vincent O'Connell

      Hi Corentin, thanks for your comments.
      I think it’s wholly appropriate that you are not “comfortable” with Sarah’s work, it is uncomfortable writing, as great writing so often is – it questions and undermines us, is subversive and difficult. I’d say anyone who was entirely comfortable with her work, really isn’t understanding it!
      In answer to your question, the script is entirely Sarah’s, and the directing is entirely mine, but of course we talked to each other in detail about each other’s work. It is normal for a director to influence the development of a script. Less normal is the writer being involved at every stage, and I was keen to keep Sarah very involved, and enjoyed her presence on the shoot. At certain key points in editing, too, I called her in and talked with her about decisions we had to make.

  3. Laura Barragan

    I just watch the film for the first time and i’m speechless. Throughout the whole 11 minutes i was rushed with all kinds of emotions you can definitively see the inner turmoil of the main character and the complexity of his relationship with Marcia with himself and with hatred. Am amazed about how much it makes you think in such a short amount of time.

  4. Sophie McIntosh

    Thanks so much for sharing this video on your site! I’ve been making my way through all of Sarah Kane’s works over the past month after falling in love with her writing years ago as a freshman drama major. I read the script for Skin before watching the movie because I was interested to see how her words would translate into the medium of film, and this certainly didn’t disappoint! I appreciated reading your comments about how involved Sarah was in the filmmaking process. Were there specific shots or sequences of the film that she influenced more than others? How was working on this film different for you than other projects in which the writers have been less involved?


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