Is it possible to make a fully socially-distanced film where no one has to actually put themselves into contact with any other person, be it cast or crew, and thereby eliminate any threat of transmission of the corona virus? And can it actually look like a real film?
A few weeks into the Covid-19 shutdown in Los Angeles a writer-director friend of mine called to say she wanted to make a short film using remote, socially-distanced techniques. I had already seen a few projects where filmmakers were trying their hands at this, and the late night talk shows were already making their shows in a homemade fashion, and I was intrigued at the idea of taking this all one step further. Could we actually make a film where the actors, in different locations, looked as if they were interacting with each other in the same space?
The cast, director, and myself would need to be able to hold a rehearsal, scout locations in each of the cast’s individual homes to find areas that can appear to be extensions of the same location, and then film the project in a way that freed the actors from the concern of technical issues of the process so they could just focus on their performances.
I had just finished a project for one of my corporate clients wherein we used the streaming software MimoLive to record interviews for a conference they had decided would now be virtual (instead of their long-planned live conference) due to the pandemic, and I realized the software we used for those interviews could be the perfect tool for us to pull off shooting a short Indy film remotely. MimoLive by Boinx Software is a live streaming broadcast app with tons of great features that allow you to create multi-camera, live switched productions and to stream on virtually any platform. And even though we were not going to live switch or stream our show, it gave us the ability to all be “virtually” in the same room, and for me to handle recording each of the individual “cameras”. All I had to do was set up the show on MimoLive and send out links to each of the actors and the Director, who all then connected via their cell phones or laptop computers. I then had 5 streams of live video which I could record individually in 1080p HD.
The Singletons is the story of one family on the day they find out about the stay-at-home order due to the pandemic. It was written and directed by Hilari Scarl and the name Singletons comes from the idea that the whole film would be shot in singles (with the exception of the Mom and Dad who were played by real life husband and wife Michael Butler Murray and Alice Kirwan Murray). We used one session in MimoLive to hold rehearsals with the full cast allowing them to interact with each other and get notes from the director, and then to find the right locations and camera angles we would use to shoot the project. Originally we planned to shoot the project with all of the actors at the same time, but for timing (one of the actors lives in Hawaii while the rest are all in Southern California) and lighting issues we scheduled to shoot each actor individually.
The finished film is just over 5 minutes running time. We had an initial cast and crew plus invited guests screening on Facebook July 15, and the film has been chosen to screen at this years’ Burbank International Film Festival.
- Writer and Director – Hilari Scarl
- Director of Photography and Editor – Jeff Gatesman
- Composer – DeAndre Allen Toole
- Colorist – Brian Hutchings
- Dad – Michael Murray
- Mom – Alice Kirwan Murray
- Steve – Benjamin McFadden
- Beth – Hilary Barraford
- Roger – Mark Beltzman