Daiki Hanko White.png

Ascent - Directorial Debut

Ascent follows three intertwining stories; an artist, struggling to gain inspiration and formulate her ideas onto the page; a young man, feeling the pressures of his work; and a young woman, battling alcoholism and undergoing counselling. The story is grounded by one painting, representing navigation and the marks we leave on each other’s lives; Ascent explores the desire to access something higher and out of reach.

The film features several award-winning venues such as the Condé Nast Johansens 2019 and 2020 "Best UK Wedding Venue" The Deer Park Country House, and the Thelma Hulbert Art Gallery

The film surpassed its initial £1000 crowdfunding goal within 48 hours, currently sitting at 258%.

Ascent also features an entirely original score with a live orchestral recording.

The film has finished production and will have a private premiere on 25th September, 2021. 


Creative Direction​







Deer Park Country House

Thelma Hulbert Art Gallery


Director / Producer / Editor: Daiki Shinomiya

Director / Writer / Editor: Leoni Fretwell

Director of Photography: Alex Giles

Assistant Director: Charlotte Weston

Assistant Director: Isabel Harrison

Audio: Adam Clark

First AC: Deniz Akbayir

Original Score: Robin Wright & Alexei Peters

Musical Director: Chris Sampson

Soundtrack Mastering Engineer: Johnny Hurst

Soundtrack Mixing Engineer: Daiki Shinomiya

Sound Design: Leoni Fretwell & Daiki Shinomiya

Cast: Angus Thomson, Julia Vredenberg, Anna Goodmaker, Lauren Ewer, Sian Ostler

Casting Directors: Roisin McCay-Hines & Ray Koh

Colourists: Leoni Fretwell & Daiki Shinomiya

Therapy Consultant: Nik Sutherland

Artists: Laura Garratt and Laura Moody

Deer Park Contact: Mark Godfrey

Thelma Hulbert Staff: Ruth Gooding & Anna Aroussi


To provide students with the opportunity to gain hands-on experience in the film industry

Not your ordinary "student film"

The ultimate aim of this project is to connect young creatives and produce a meaningful piece of cinema that lasts long in memory. This also aimed to enable students at our non-arts university to pursue a career in film. 

The majority of the cast and crew came from diverse backgrounds seemingly unrelated to film – from me pursuing a degree in Psychology to the composers pursuing engineering and biochemistry. This film was produced and filmed completely independently from any university or course. 

In the end, we managed to produce a film that enabled students at our non-creative university to land previously unattainable roles in the film industry, from working at a post-production house to helping out the production on a Netflix series. 

  • Facebook - White Circle
  • LinkedIn - White Circle
  • Twitter - White Circle


Crowdfunding 100% of the goal in under 48 hours

I designed the brand identify of the film to reflect the elegance and subtlety of the story. 

This served as the backbone of the social media and crowdfunding campaign, elevating its production value. 

Elegant and eye-catching graphics paired with a high-quality video greatly contributed to the success of the campaign.

The brand design added to the professionalism of the film, separating it further from a typical "student film".

  • Facebook - White Circle
  • LinkedIn - White Circle
  • Twitter - White Circle
Social Assets


Crafting an immersive sensory experience through sound

We knew from the beginning that we wanted to have 100% original music. Never could we have envisioned bringing on board a live orchestra from Wellington School to record real instruments for the soundtrack. 

Leoni and I worked alongside our talented composers to craft a soundtrack that fit the exact essence of the film, down to the beat. My background playing in an orchestra (flute & bassoon) helped in communicating with the musicians to achieve as close of a sound to our vision as possible. 

I mixed the audio tracks, blending physical and virtual instruments using Logic Pro and Abelton Live. The tracks were then mastered by our mastering engineer. 

We also recorded bespoke foley for our sound design, ensuring exact precision and accuracy for a totally immersive experience for the viewers. I mixed and mastered the sound design in both Logic Pro and DaVinci Resolve. 

  • Facebook - White Circle
  • LinkedIn - White Circle
  • Twitter - White Circle


If you have enough learning curves, you'll eventually make a circle

It was a fulfilling experience taking what was just a simple idea into a real production from scratch, through the power of creative collaboration and ambition. 

Although this is not a perfect film, it was a great achievement – creating art and collaboration entirely from scratch. 

I hope that this demonstrates how capable students are when they work together on their passions – regardless of what degree or background they have. 

Stay tuned for updates!

  • Facebook - White Circle
  • LinkedIn - White Circle
  • Twitter - White Circle