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Soft — Simon Ellis, 2006

A father and son are independently terrorised by the same gang of youths, each of them responding to the confrontations in a very different manner – and leading to a re-evaluation of themselves and their relationship.

An award-winner from the 2008 Sundance Film Festival, ‘Soft’ provides an excellent starting point for discussions of bullying and what it means to be “a man”.

Classroom Activities

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  • The opening of the film is shot as mobile phone footage: does this make the opening more effective or impactful? Why (not)?
  • Watch the film from 02:02 to 03:39. How does the editing create a sense of anticipation in the viewer here?
  • Watch the film from 03:50 to 04:23 which is all one long uncut shot. What is the effect of this on the viewer?
  • Watch the film from 05:44 to 05:49 where a short series of jump cuts is used. What does this reveal about the dad’s feelings and how?
  • We see Scott a few times but his bruises are only revealed as 06:31. Why did the filmmaker wait this long to show us this?
  • Watch the film from 11:22 to 11:34 where it switches to a fish eye lens. What effect does this create?
  • Watch from 11:53 to 12:04. In this section it switches back to mobile phone footage. Why does the filmmaker do this for this particular sequence?
  • Watch from 13:03 to the end of the film (14:09). What do you notice about the camera shot and sound here? Why does the film end this way?


  • “Did you fight?” (07:10). What are the implications in this question at this point in the film?
  • The dad says that the gang have a “short attention span”. Do you think he’s right or is this an ignorant assumption? What assumptions are being made about the gang members? Do you think these are fair?
  • Do you think the gang would have left eventually? Did the dad do the right thing in going out to confront them?
  • “Are you scared?” (10:09). What impact does this question have at this point?
  • What other films, TV shows, books etc. can you think of that explore similar ideas to ‘Soft’? What are their similarities? How could these texts reinforce potentially harmful ideas about masculinity?
  • Which of these themes do you think is the most dominant one in ‘Soft’: a) fear; b) anger; c) masculinity; d) gang culture e) fathers and sons? Give reasons for your choice.
  • Do you think a male viewer would respond differently to this film than a female?



  • Write a short story about a confrontation with an unexpected ending.


  • The film ends in silence apart from ambient sound. Can you think of a song that might have been appropriate to play over the end credits? Give reasons for your choice.


  • What might lead to the behaviour displayed by the gang? Do some research into the causes of anti-social behaviour and share your findings.


  • Do you think the filmmaker creates a fair representation of so-called ‘ASBO’ teens? Do you have any sympathy for them? Should we?
  • Do you think there was any other way for either Scott or his dad to handle this situation? What else could they have done? What could have been the outcomes?
  • What do you know about the term ‘toxic masculinity’? How does it apply to this film? Do you think this is a fair term, or could it be damaging to the mental health of men?

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