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An Interview with Alex Gavin, Writer of Isolation

by Mike Haberfelner

December 2020

Films written by Alex Gavin on (re)Search my Trash

 

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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.

 

So how was this project initiated in the first place?

 

The 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.

 

Obviously, Isolation 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 these restrictions?

 

It 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 were shot 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 Jumper. To 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 writing Isolation, and is any of it based on personal experience, actually?

 

Hmm, 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.

 

Do talk about Isolation's cast, and why exactly these people?

 

I 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. One 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?

 

In 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.

 

The 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

that, 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.

 

Another 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 be seen?

 

Currently Isolation is available to be seen on Jeremiah Kipp's Vimeo page. Link here: vimeo.com/487570442

 

Anything you can tell us about audience and critical reception of Isolation?

 

So 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.

 

Any future projects you'd like to share?

 

Yes! 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?

 

Yes, 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?

 

Ha 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.

 

What can you tell us about your filmwork prior to Isolation, in whatever position?

 

I've 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 a writer?

 

Slow (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 from there.

 

Writers, filmmakers, whoever else who inspire you?

 

Hmm, 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?

 

Equally 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 Evil Dead movies and Blood Simple as well, which got me into filmmaking in the first place.

 

... and of course, films you really deplore?

 

I've 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.”

 

Your/your movie's website, social media, whatever else?

 

Feeling lucky ?
Want to
search
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?

The links below
will take you
just there!!!

Find Alex Gavin
at the amazons ...

USA  amazon.com

Great Britain (a.k.a. the United Kingdom)  amazon.co.uk

Germany (East AND West)  amazon.de

Looking for imports ?
Find Alex Gavin here ...

Thailand  eThaiCD.com
Your shop for all things Thai

Currently Isolation does not have a website other than the video page - https://vimeo.com/487570442

My website is www.agavinfilms.com

 

Anything else you're dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?

 

Just 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.”

 

Thanks for the interview!

 

Thank you!

 

© by Mike Haberfelner


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Thanks for watching !!!



 

 

Robots and rats,
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On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
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WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD