Your new movie Isolation
- in a few words, what is it about?
Isolation is about two people living in confinement in their enclosed NY apartment,
one of whom is psychologically antagonistic to the other.
how was this project initiated in the first place?
short came about when my colleague and great filmmaker Jeremiah Kipp [Jeremiah
Kipp interview - click here] asked
me if I would be interested in writing a short for him. We'd already been
a few months into the pandemic at that point and he'd since made a number
of quarantine shorts with his talented co-producer and actress Jenn
Plotzke [Jennifer Plotzke
interview - click here]. I told him I was definitely interested.
was inspired by the current Corona-caused situation - so how easy or hard
was it for you to come up with a plot that could be made to work within
was something that had to stir in my mind for several months. Jeremiah and
I had been talking early on about the inherent limitations of shooting
COVID-safe films. The ones he'd produced prior to Isolation
either via Zoom, webcam, or over the phone. A number of them are quite
good. A few of the ones I'm particularly fond of are Joe Fiorillo's The
Nain Rouge Murders, Timothy Nolan's The Drop, and Sooz Nolan's
help me think of something, Jeremiah suggested writing for a couple who
are actors and live together. That helped, and once I sat down to write it
I found it came together when looking at it as a relatively simple
exercise in dramaturgy.
Other sources of inspiration when
and is any of it based on personal experience, actually?
well I've never actually lived with anyone I've been in a relationship
with before and certainly not during a stressful pandemic. But I have been
through a few bad break-ups, so that probably informed it one way or
another (laughs). Also
I think a lot of people can relate to losing track of time and even what
day it is while we're stuck in our houses and apartments.
talk about Isolation's
cast, and why exactly these people?
actually had not met Liv and Antony Watkins before this project began.
Jeremiah cast them after being recommended to us through Timothy Nolan.
Tim and the Watkins were cohorts at the Actors Studio Drama School.
thing I know for certain is that Liv and Antony really made the project
come to life. They're definitely the stars here, and I'm eternally
grateful they came our way. I'm still not sick of watching the short after
having seen it what must be 100 times by now.
You also edited Isolation
- so what were the challenges there?
terms of coverage, it was actually very straightforward. Liv and Antony
shot it themselves and I believe the only alternate set-ups they did were
in the first scene in the living room. After that, in terms of assembly,
there was pretty much only one way it could go.
biggest challenge was figuring out the cutaways to the clock which I
briefly and erroneously used as transitions between scenes. The point of
the clock is to show that Isabella is losing sense of time passing, so an
unplanned thing that wasn't in the script that I resorted to was cutting
back to the clock at 10:37 the first 3 times we see it, even though she's
moving back and forth between rooms. After
when we cut to the clock it speeds forward greatly disproportionate to
actual screen time, the hope there is that audiences will relate to her
sense of confusion and frustration.
thing I tried to do was L-cut to her as much as possible since in my mind
it's her story, and by seeing her reactions to what Richard is saying we
get in her head a little more.
The $64-question of
course, where can Isolation
Isolation is available to be seen on Jeremiah Kipp's Vimeo page. Link
Anything you can tell us about audience and
critical reception of Isolation?
far it's been very positive, people have told me it's gripping and a few
have been a little confused by it, but still liked it.
future projects you'd like to share?
I'm currently in post on a minute and a half satirical commercial for a
fictional drug that is the basis for a short film I've written and hope to
shoot next year once we're all vaccinated and it's safe to do so. The
short film is titled Dark Aces and it's about a fun-loving partying Wall
Street type who gets in over his head when he picks a fight with the wrong
group of people after taking a drug that grants temporary strength and
agility enhancements. I
have the short pretty much ready to go and am in early stages of turning
it into a feature. I'm excited about it!
What got you into
the filmworld in the first place, and did you recieve any formal education
on the subject?
I did go to film school. First a little bit in high school at the New York
Film Academy, and then later at Fairleigh Dickinson University. My
thoughts on film school is that it can be a good place to mess up and
learn from your mistakes, but more importantly make some connections.
When it comes to making movies, you've
worked in many a position both in front of and behind the camera - so what
do you enjoy the most, what could you do without?
well, being a PA was easily my least favorite job. Ask anyone who's been
one on a poorly run feature and they'll tell you that. Directing is by far
the best job on set, so yeah my goal is to do that.
can you tell us about your filmwork prior to Isolation,
in whatever position?
worked as an assistant in the camera department for a number of years, and
a little bit as a grip and a 3rd electric. Prior to that I also was an assistant
director for a few years. In each case you don't have any
creative control, and are meant to do exactly as the position states, be
an assistant. People looking to break in should try working in various
departments though, it grounds you while at the same time making you
understand the dynamics of working on set.
How would you describe yourself as
(laughs), I'm optimistic that I can one day be able to will myself into
being a faster writer, but I think that comes with experience. But the way
I've done it so far is to think about it for a little while, outline it in
some rough form, and then just blast it out into a first draft. Re-writes
Writers, filmmakers, whoever else who inspire
that's tough. I suppose if I were to pick 5 of my favorite filmmakers, I'd
say Guillermo del Toro, Rian Johnson, Edgar Wright, Satoshi Kon, and Lynne
Ramsay. To go back a little bit further I can say Preston Sturges,
Fellini, Kurosawa, and Ernst Lubitsch. There's so many though - really I
could be here all day.
Your favourite movies?
tough, two of my all-time go-tos are probably the first Alien along with
the first Terminator. I'd be remiss if didn't mention the first two
Dead movies and Blood Simple as well, which got me into filmmaking in the
... and of
course, films you really deplore?
seen a number of bad low-budget films, but it almost feels like flogging a
crippled donkey to mention those. Two of the most objectionable movies
I've seen in the last decade or so are Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
and Batman V. Superman. In both cases you're wondering how with so much
effort, money, and talent involved, they said “yeah this is acceptable,
this is okay to sell to people.”
website, social media, whatever else?
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
does not have a website other than the video page - https://vimeo.com/487570442
website is www.agavinfilms.com
you're dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?
that like how Ian Malcolm said in Jurassic Park that “life finds a
way,” one takeaway I've had making Isolation
is that even in dire
circumstances “film finds a way.”
for the interview!