Ever wondered what it would look like if Essentials was set on fire?

Wonder no more.

The pasties at Essentials were left in the oven a bit too long…bye bye SAC!

The tagline for KTV’s latest and largest production project, Encryption, states that “one mistake will shape the future” – a future that opens up in the drama with the image of Kent recklessly burning down. Even the office I spend the majority of my Friday in, the Student Activities Centre, couldn’t escape the flames. My poor desk!

Few other projects have left me visually stunned, and the visual effects work on Encryption by Luke Ilett-Mackie, a third-year Psychology student at Kent, is simply sublime.

Hardly anything is left untouched by the flames of destruction, and Luke revealed to InQuire:

‘Initially there wasn’t that much destruction, but the approach changed from being more of a drama angle to more sci fi and when that happened Arnie, [the director], kept insisting there was more fire. Of course, I was happy to oblige.’

The ‘more fire’ approach definitely heated up the episode.

Encryption follows the story of Sam Cross (Tara Caple) and her work on an artificial intelligence coding project at University. Her secret love of her best friend Flick (Emily Evans) is the catalyst of the episode, which ultimately drives her love for the AI project, AIMEE, and it’s evolution. Episode one gives a good introduction to the backstory of the characters, and sets the tone of the series very well that not only draws you in but acts as the initial allure to what will hopefully be a great series. The decision to turn it into more of a sci-fi than a drama is a good move in my books, and the more flames the better really.

Tara’s portrayal of Sam is perhaps the hottest of all the cast involved, and she delivers a truly believable performance of someone trapped in the shadow of unrequited love. There are moments when she shows real emotion towards the character of Flick, and the idea of underlying love she felt for her came across very strong. She is a star in the making, and I have full confidence that Encryption will help her future career.

If there weren’t enough burning things already, the soundscape set my ears on fire with a distinctively eerie score from composers Fin Evans and Laura Scardarella, alongside Sound Designer Dan Iacono – at the public screening in the Gulbenkian cinema, the bass was powerful and the high pitched noise of the artificial intelligence, AIMEE, pierced my ears as if I was right there in the heart of the action. The words “Can you see Aimee?” and a high pitched artificial-sounding “Hello” will haunt me forever.

‘Where will I go for a sausage roll now Bake’n’Bite is burning down?!’ Sam pondered.

Director Arnie Voysey is a promising candidate for the role of ‘Kubrick of Kent’, and the cinematography of a number of scenes is perfect. The framing on the close up shots of Sam (above), and the level of focus, couldn’t have been better. However, there were times when the sequences of conversations between certain cast members seemed disjointed, and I felt it was lacking an establishing shot to fix the disconnect. There were just a few too many seconds left between the edits for it to work perfectly.

Encryption is by far one of the best things to ever come out of KTV; but it needs a little bit more work to turn this simmering series into a blaze of glory for the station. I may have been slightly deafened by the soundscape, but it was worth it. When Encryption is released publicly in September, do NOT miss the opportunity to see it. There are far worse ways to spend 25 minutes of your time, and the level of work and commitment that has gone into this project deserves all the recognition and public support it can get.

Plus, you might not have another opportunity to see our campus looking like Mordor, with the great eye taking up residence in the SMC.


Encryption will be released in September of this year, and the trailer is available to watch on YouTube now. Find out more at


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