Rules Of Engagement

Rules of Engagement (2018) is a 22 minute long film that explores ideas of belongingness and the unwritten codes that create social cohesion developed from collected stories of uncomfortable or failed social situations. The film consists of three vignettes depicting everyday scenarios wherein individuals come up against unwritten or tacit social protocols. 

The starting point for the project was to source accounts of everyday experiences from individuals identifying as ‘outsiders’ to understand the connection between social protocols and notions of belonging in the context of seemingly insignificant everyday interactions. The accounts formed the basis for a fictional screenplay. To highlight unwritten social protocols and highlight the relationship between ritual and unspoken communication all dialogue was removed from the scripted scenarios leaving deliberate gaps in the interactions represented in the scenes. Instead of finding actors to play a set role, a call went out seeking performers who identified with the scenarios in the screenplay. The casts’ own experiences were incorporated into the screenplay.

The project was developed, written, directed and edited by Stenbom alongside creative collaborators cinematographer Emma Dalesman, musician Ziad Jabero and production designer Mike McLoughlin.

The film premiered in 2018 as part of a UK tour and has had further presentations including London Short Film Festival and Innsbruck International. The project was funded by Newcastle University Institute for Creative Arts Practice and Arts Council England.

Rules of Engagement was awarded runner-up in the 2020 BAFTSS (British Association of Film, Television and Screen Studies) Awards in category Moving Image (Documentary & Image) (Best Practice Research Portfolio).

Further links:

Innsbruck International 2020

UK Tour 2018

Interview in Narc Magazine:

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