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The Gate of the Hundred Sorrows - a short film's video poster

A labyrinthine path through Kipling's Opium Den purgatory, where a smoke-filled underworld explores tragedy through disjointed reality. Read more

Cambridge, UK Shorts
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This project was successfully funded on August 25, 2013.

A labyrinthine path through Kipling's Opium Den purgatory, where a smoke-filled underworld explores tragedy through disjointed reality.

Cambridge, UK Shorts
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About this project


We have reached our target! Thank you everyone for your incredible support, together you have made this film a reality. Thanks to the support and publicity of the kickstarted community, we are now in a very special position in regards to doing this film justice. We are very pleased to announce that we have just received news that ARRI will be helping us out with an ARRI ALEXA to shoot on! The camera behind everything from Hugo to Skyfall to Life of Pi, this camera is widely viewed as one of the best in the industry. With the jump from a little DSLR to such a serious cinema monster however, things get a little more expensive; with such a beautiful camera, we need equally beautiful lenses; with a camera so much heavier, we need heavier duty grip equipment; and with the astronomic jump in resolution, we need much more serious data handling. With this in mind, we have had to reassess our budget and increase the amount of money we require. We need at least a further £800 for lenses, £1200 for heavy duty grip equipment (steadicams, sliders, dollies, jibs), and £500 for memory, storage and data processing, bringing our funding goal to £6500

Please please help us to make this a reality.


The Gate of the Hundred Sorrows follows one man's descent into the ethereal world of a Calcutta opium den and explores the surreal and surprising interactions between its eclectic clientele. Fundamentally a tragedy, the protagonist's romantic vision of 'The Gate' and 'The Black Smoke' gives way to the harsh realities of life, death and addiction.

Rudyard Kipling wrote The Gate of the Hundred Sorrows in 1884 as part of his Plain Tales from the Hills; a collection of stories that explored his young life in India. Most people know Kipling for the Jungle Book, but this dark story is far removed from the fantasy of the "King of the Swingers". 

The original story can be found here.

By the 1920s, Kipling wished to turn The Gate of the Hundred Sorrows into a short film. Yet because of reasons unknown, the film never came into being and the original screenplay disappeared into time. 

In our modern adaptation, we hope to revive his long lost story, bringing it closer to home, to a contemporary austerity-ridden Britain.

Helen Simmons: Director

"I’ve always loved film. But it was only through running Watersprite, Cambridge’s international student film festival, that I realised it was possible to pursue making them as a career. Meeting directors and producers, writers and actors, make-up artists and production designers, meant that I gained a glimpse into the world of professional film-making – and once I’d seen how exciting it was, I realised there was nothing else I could possibly do.

In the past two years I’ve gained experience at film production companies, worked alongside an LA screenwriter as a researcher, and been on many a set visit to see what the filmmaking process is really like. And whilst this will be my first time taking on the role of Director, my experience producing theatre and working in other areas of the film industry will hopefully stand me in good stead. As will my natural ability to be rather bossy. Perhaps.

Above all, I’m really excited to be working with such a talented team of people, and I really hope I can do a good job in bringing Kipling’s story to life."

Thomas Moodie: Writer

"Hello, I’m Tom and I’m the screenwriter of The Gate of the Hundred Sorrows. I spent most of my childhood marching up and down a sofa pretending to be the elephants from The Jungle Book, so it’s fair to say that I have always been a fan of Kipling.

The majority of my work up until now has been in theatre, writing plays and composing for others, but I have always wanted to be involved in filmmaking. When Nick and Sorcha said they were setting up Try Hard Productions and were looking for a story, something by Kipling seemed an obvious choice, especially The Gate of the Hundred Sorrows, since Kipling himself wanted it to be adapted into a film but never had his vision realised. 

We all became obsessed with the short story and spent most of our exam term talking about how to bring it closer to present day Britain and retain its bizarre and beautiful qualities. We’ve been through dozens of re-writes exploring different aspects of the story to make the script as engaging as possible; I’m really excited to see the final result."

Sorcha Bacon: Producer

"Hello, I’m Sorcha (saw ra-ha) and I’m the Producer of The Gate of the Hundred Sorrows. It was during my time at University that I met my best friend and accomplice, Nick, and we began to discuss how much we wanted to make films together. After a questionable first attempt at film, involving some rather shoddy animation and an incomprehensible storyline involving a man who fell onto a camera and it became his head, we wanted to try again and this time do it properly. 

Instead of revising for our finals, Nick and I decided to set up a production company called Try Hard Productions and were so thrilled to then be introduced to Kipling’s short story by Tom. Together, with director Helen and co-producer Georgia, the five of us have formed a tight-knit group who are working incredibly hard to try and make this film a reality."

Georgia Hume: Producer

"Hi! I’m Georgia and I’m co-producing The Gate of the Hundred Sorrows.

I started working in film production after leaving school, and was immediately enamored with every single part of the process; seeing a concept go from script to screen, filming in strange locations at stranger hours, spending weeks with a crew who, no matter how different their jobs (catering, costume designing, camera assisting…) were all pulling together towards one goal. I learnt a lot in two years of being on large-scale film sets, but I was a teeny-tiny fish in a big pond. With this production, I get to be a carp. In a paddling pool. A co-carp.

I met the others through Watersprite, the Cambridge film festival, where I spent the weekend filming interviews with the speakers, whilst Nick photographed them. A couple of weeks later, he mentioned the idea of a short to me: by the time he’d said the words ‘the film that Kipling never made’ and ‘opium den’, I was sold."

Bethany Spence: First Assistant Director

I started making films at the age of 16, messing around with a video camera and some school friends. I had always enjoyed watching films, but I really became interested in how they were made, and how I could re-create what the professionals were doing in my own work. I decided to take the University route as I knew literally nothing about filmmaking, and I recently graduated from Bournemouth University with a BA (Hons) in Film Production and Cinematography. During my time there I learnt the ins and outs of filmmaking, working in various crew roles in order to fully explore the craft. I directed two documentaries and produced a short promo, as well as exploring other crew roles on music videos and dramas. After working as a 1st Assistant Director on a 16mm Production in my first year of university, I cultivated a passion for the role, and have since worked as the first Assistant Director on eight short films. Having worked on both Digital and Film, my knowledge of the role has been researched and carefully developed over the three-year course and my enthusiasm for the job is only growing with time. I also have on-set feature film experience, having worked closely with the camera department as a trainee, and I have also spent time working within an editing company, gaining key knowledge of the professional environment and making numerous contacts along the way. 

Nick Morris: Director of Photography 

"It was during a hitchhiking trip, in Talinn, Estonia, a couple of years back, whilst wandering aimlessly around a flea market, that I quite literally stumbled upon cameras. An old man was selling mounts of old Soviet stills cameras from a tiny stall, and I became obsessed with how these old mechanical lumps of metal could possibly take photographs. I bought what turned out to be a Fed 3 35mm camera, and the rest is history. 

Since then I have obsessed about photography, learning feverishly about anything I can get my hands on. After becoming more accomplished, exhibiting, gradually working with magazines, and moving onto bigger projects, the obsession transitioned into film. I’ve been working on shorts and in TV for a little over a year and the experience of the set refocused all of my love for stills into the world of cinema. We might be inexperienced, but Helen, Tom, Sorcha, Georgia and I have been working incessantly to bring this film to reality. 

The story itself has an interesting subtext that hangs fundamentally on visual experience, and how much we can trust what we see, lending itself hugely to film and to some ambitious and exciting cinematography."

It was Tom who first presented us with Kipling's story, and we all worked together to explore how best to translate his short onto screen. 

Tom and Helen have spent a considerable amount of time researching opium within literature and the arts. It turns out it has been a considerable feature in some of the most prominent and romantic stories of the late nineteenth and twentieth century. Everything from de Quincey's Confessions of an English Opium-Eater to more contemporary films like Sergio Leone's 'Once Upon a Time in America' have influenced the development of our film. 

A strong theme that developed, and one in which we want to stay true to, is the visual nature of the opium experience. Nick, our Director of Photography and our Production Designer, Ella Jackson, worked together to try to establish the mood and tone of Kipling's story through some preliminary artistic story boards, lifting extracts from the original text:

~ "I don't mind telling anyone this much, but I defy him to find The Gate, however well he thinks he knows the City."~

Art Work: © Ella Jackson

~ "If I can attain Heaven for a price, why should you be envious?" ~

Art Work: © Ella Jackson

~ "I should like to die like the bazaar woman - on a clean, cool mat with a pipe of good stuff between my lips." ~

Art Work: © Ella Jackson

Setting the Mood(Board)

"Kipling’s Gate of the Hundred Sorrows was intended to be a journey into another world – and that's exactly where we intend to take you with this film. Physically, our chosen locations will transport you from a vast expanse of empty, concrete, nothingness, to a beautiful yet foreboding house full of individuals of questionable intent. 

Equally, the cinematographic skills of Nick Morris will transport you into a different mental universe, and hopefully make you begin to question what is real, and what is not. And don’t let the apathetic nature of the story fool you – we hope this will be a story to make you think, make you take a fresh look at the world around you, and make you want to revisit Kipling for yourself."

Where your contributions will go:

Creating a film is much more expensive that people realise. We need funding for everything from cameras, lenses, and lights to post-production, a colourist and special effects. All the funds that we raise on Kickstarter will go towards the costs of production including all equipment rental fees, art department and wardrobe costs, travel expenses, hard drives, insurance and all other expendables! Where it certainly won't go is straight into the pockets or stomachs of the producers!

Our Kickstarter Goals

At this point, we have managed to secure a little funding from The Kipling Society, as well as the Queens' Arts Society, together securing enough money for us to get the finished product to festivals. 

  • With £4000 in pledges you can help us make that finished product a reality. We'll have enough equipment and supplies to shoot, feed the crew and get it all into an editing suite at the end, but theres a little more to filmmaking than that. If we were to surpass our target, a new world of possibilities present themselves! 

  • With £5000 we would be able to upscale our production value, and shoot on a RED camera; with 4k resolution, and a far broader colour depth than the Canon 5d mark ii, we'll be able to see Kipling's opium den in all of its glory. 

  • With £8000, our film would be completely transformed; our set designers could source materials to make the film as richly visual as it deserves to be; we could pay more experienced actors to get across the subtleties of the story; we could use more elaborate lighting and more imaginative camera rigs; we could explore more far flung locations; and more importantly we could feed the cast and crew more just than beans on toast!

Why Kickstarter?

We’re sure you must have seen many a thing like this asking you for your time and money. We know we certainly have. So why should you want to help us with The Gate of The Hundred Sorrows? Hopefully, if you’ve been directed to, or found, this page, you have at least a slight interest in film. Or a slight interest in Kipling. Or both. And if that is the case, then our project is going to serve both your needs. Kipling wanted his short story turned into a film, and we think he had the right idea. His story is powerful and moving, while also subtle and subversive. It tells a story from a perspective none of us are likely to hear, and one that makes us ask big questions about ourselves, society and existence more generally. But his vision never came to fruition! Fortunately, we’re here to change that. Our adaptation brings the story to a macabre and surreal take on contemporary London, and makes a story nearly a century old relevant to the world all over again. But we need your help. The equipment and lighting won’t pay for itself, and the dedicated cast and crew can’t work on empty stomachs forever. If you can donate even a tiny amount, it will go to great use and help us towards our target – and towards Kipling’s goal of bringing this very memorable story to life.

Others ways you can help...

If you can’t spare any cash, fear not. You can help us out in plenty of other ways too. Spreading the word on Facebook, twitter and other social media is crucial, and telling your friends – or asking your film-loving friends to tell their film-loving friends – will help us out no end in getting the project talked about. And if you yourself can’t donate but happen to know a very wealthy business magnate who can, please do send them our way…

Twitter @tryhardcreative

Instagram @hundredsorrowsfilm


Thank you!

Sorcha, Georgia, Helen, Nick & Tom

Risks and challenges

Though we are very confident about our project and have a very clear production plan in place, we have to be realistic about the risks and challenges we are likely to face along the way.

All of our primary locations have already been secured but there is a risk that some of our more ambitious shooting locations might have permit issues. To overcome this we are entering into discussions with local boroughs to secure shooting rights.

For us though, the ultimate challenge is doing justice to Kipling’s story especially considering he wanted this story to be made into a short film. As such, our team have spent a lot of time researching and looking in to Kipling's life, as well as exploring opium taking as depicted through art and literature throughout the ages. We hope we can create the film Kipling himself was never able to.

Learn about accountability on Kickstarter


Have a question? If the info above doesn't help, you can ask the project creator directly.

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  • You selected
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    0 backers

    You can do better than that! Only kidding, a big thank you from all our cast and crew.

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    6 backers

    Thanks! You've fed a crew member for the day! They'll work harder on a full stomach. In reward we'll send you a private video link to watch our film when it's ready.

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    22 backers

    Thanks! You've got some of our crew to set! In reward, not only can you have an online link but we'll send you a DVD with a selection of production stills from on set

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    14 backers

    Thanks! You've provided us with some of our props, hopefully a couple of pipes for our den. In return we'll send you a personalised thank you card with a signed picture of our cast and crew, plus digital productions stills, a dvd and an online private video link!

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    1 backer

    Thanks! You've just paid for a light! You can expect a call from our director to say thanks. We would also like to send you copies of our storyboards by the wonderful Ella Jackson, plus a signed photograph of our cast and crew. On top of that, you'll also get digital copies of our production stills as above, and all the rest!

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    3 backers

    Thanks! You've paid for our sound recording! Thats really important, so how does an invitation to our London screening sound? AND a special mention in our film credits. Plus everything above including PRINTED copies of our storyboards and production stills!

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    1 backer

    Thanks so much! You've just paid for our costumes and our actors are no longer naked! Phew. How about coming in for a visit to the set? Plus we'll send you some ORIGINAL art work by our talented storyboard artist, which we will let you choose from during a VIP reception at our film screening in London. Expect all as above, plus a special mention in our credits.

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    2 backers

    Thanks! You've paid for our post-production! Our film can be coloured and all our Visual FX put in! For that you've been promoted to an EXECUTIVE producer of our short film, plus if you like, come on set and be an EXTRA! You will also be treated to a VIP reception at our London screening and get an EXCLUSIVE copy of our production book and concept art work. If that isn't enough, how does a half-day of head shots or family portraits sound with our Director of Photography, Nick Morris?

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  • You selected
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    1 backer

    WOW! Thanks! You have completely transformed our film. We can follow our more ambitious plans, use bigger and better cameras and more intricate and elaborate set ups. Not only are you now an EXECUTIVE producer and welcome whenever you like for a tour of our set, but you'll also receive a VIP invitation to our screening including dinner with the cast and crew beforehand. You will also be the SPECIAL GUEST at our wrap party where we will personally hand over our production book and a hand written manuscript of our screenplay, plus, as always, all of the above!

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Funding period

- (30 days)