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Empty — Tom Smith and Kate Louise Turner, 2015

This award-winning short social realist drama follows Keira as she struggles through her normal day to day life trying to cope with the effects of an eating disorder and a toxic friend.

Classroom Activities

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  • What different things could the title ‘Empty’ be referring to within the context of the film?
  • Watch the opening section of the film (00:06 - 02:08). How does the actor’s performance coupled with the use of shot size and camera angle convey the impression that the protagonist is unhappy?
  • Look at the still at 03:00, how has the filmmaker used costume to highlight the difference between the girls? Can you spot any cultural codes (images related to a certain group in society) which create additional layers of meaning?
  • Watch the argument sequence (06:12 – 07:01). How does the director’s choice of hand-held shooting help to build tension in the scene?
  • In that scene at 07:00 what is interesting about the directors use of over-the-shoulder shot?
  • In the final scene, how does the director use light and sound to reflect Kiera’s mental state in this moment?


  • Think about the audience for this film. Do you feel that it is aimed primarily at teenage girls? What evidence is there to support this claim?
  • It is estimated that between 1.25 and 3.4 million people in the UK are affected by an eating disorder. One of the factors which can contribute to the development of an eating disorder is the media’s focus on unrealistic beauty standards and upholding Western ideals of beauty. In what ways have you seen this happen in media you have come into contact with?
  • Activist groups have campaigned and put pressure on the film and television industry to provide more inclusive representations of bodies. Can you identify examples of positive body image representation in film or television productions you have seen?
  • Are you aware of where people can get help for eating disorders? Research what support is available locally and nationally for people who need it. Do you see any issues with the availability or accessibility of this support?
  • Social realism films aim to draw attention to the real socio-political conditions of ordinary people, often as way of drawing attention to the power imbalances and critiquing the political institutions behind these conditions. What other issues do you think would make a good topic for a social realist film?



  • Write a letter to a well-known media company or corporation which insists on better representation and body inclusivity. Be sure to outline the problem, make suggestions for steps they could take to improve and remember to use persuasive techniques.


  • Make a short social realist film of your own. Think carefully about the topic and remember despite being fiction it should show characters who appear real and feature in realistic situations. Keep the script, lighting, and use of sound as natural as possible.


  • Design a series of posters for the bathroom mirrors in your school which promote body positivity and self-kindness.
  • Design a runway set for an inclusive fashion show. Make sure that there is clear messaging, it is fully accessible and looks fierce!


  • Organise an inclusive fashion show. Make sure you have all types of models who represent as wide variety of society as possible.

Clip Details

Year of Production 2015
Genre Drama
Curriculum Areas Health and Wellbeing, Literacy and English, Religious and Moral Education
Director Tom Smith and Kate Louise Turner
Country of Origin UK
Medium / Content Live Action, Fiction, Colour, Sound
Themes Feelings, Relationships, Danger / Fear, Health, Culture / Society, Identity / Self
Clip Length 08:45
Clip Length 08:45
Age Group S1-S3, S4-S6