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An Interview with B. Luciano Barsuglia, Director of Social Distance

by Mike Haberfelner

January 2021

Films directed by B. Luciano Barsuglia on (re)Search my Trash

 

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Your new movie Social Distance - in a few words, what is it about?

 

Social Distance is the story of six people working from home during the 2020 COVID pandemic. They work for a cruise line and they are attempting to save the company from a public relations nightmare after passengers having been quarantined and become sick. Over the course of the story, each of the characters has to deal with issues of isolation including sickness, jealousy, depression, and addiction. This is an intense thriller that takes some surprising turns into a world of accusations and conspiracies.

 

Very obviously, Social Distance has been inspired by the current pandemic - but did you have the idea for the film only after the widespread outbreak, or has it simmered within you for years and you've only now figured it the right time to make the movie?

 

Social Distance is entirely a child of its time. When the world shut down and California declared its shelter-at-home orders, the entertainment industry came to a halt. Everything was put on hold. We had another project (Amber Road) just getting started, and had to hit the brakes on it completely. I began reaching out to various actors, starting with Jed Rowen [Jed Rowen interview - click here], who plays Stork, to see who would be interested in creating a project from afar.

 

Other sources of inspiration when writing Social Distance?

 

The actors themselves were a huge inspiration for the screenplay. As I started to conceive the story and what direction it might go, I spoke with each actor individually to consider sets, props, resources and character traits that could be incorporated into the story based on what they were interested in and what they had access to.

 

Of all the protagonists of Social Distance, who could you identify with the most, and why?

 

As the filmmaker, I probably most closely identify with the antagonist, the all seeing eye of Gil Oldman jr!  I had to be very creative in how this movie was put together, and ultimately the story is told from his perspective, his computer screen, his software. I had to envision creative ways for Oldman to monitor the other characters, so it was important to identify with him.

 

How would you describe Social Distance's approach to the conspiracy thriller genre?

 

A lot of research went into the different conspiracies that were and are out there about government involvement in coverups and secret ops more so than COVID itself. I wanted this to be an objective look the conspiracy theories and consider the possibility of there being something bigger than people imagine, but at the same time, the story doesn’t take sides. It doesn’t say one perspective is right or wrong, and it doesn’t fall on the side of conspiracies one way or the other but presents the possibilities. There are implications of something much larger at work in the story, but the endgame is left open for interpretation.

 

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

 

Since this was a very different approach to filmmaking, I wanted to work with people with whom I was already familiar with. And those who I had not worked with before, I wanted to make sure I could get to know them to some degree. The script and characters were written for each specific actor in mind.

 

For Social Distance you've had your cast shoot themselves in their own homes due to lockdown restrictions - so how did you actually manage to "direct" them, and what are the challenges but maybe also advantages filming this way?

 

While the movie most often looks like a Zoom conference, it was not shot as such. Each actor set up a camera directly in front of them, then I directed them via video conferencing. We recorded each actor’s part individually, one at a time. All the elements were then put together in post-production to give the movie its own unique look.

 

What can you tell us about the shoot as such?

 

While it may not look like it, which is good, this movie is a visual effects movie. Every scene in this movie is a visual effect.

 

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

 

So far the critical reception has been very good as has the majority of the audience reception (I’m sure I will now jinx this). I’m happy when people get excited about a movie and want to watch it! What has surprised me is how people who haven’t seen the movie have responded to trailers and advertising. There seems to be large percentages of people who automatically assume this movie is part of a “plandemic” to push forward the COVID vaccine to control them. Then there’s another group who seem to view it as just the opposite, feeding into the pandemic and the fear. The reality is, it does neither. The creation of Social Distance was a response to the circumstance. Those who have watched the movie seem to understand as much upon viewing it.

 

Should the pandemic go on, and it indeed might for a bit, could you ever be persuaded to shoot another movie the way you shot Social Distance?

 

A direct tie-in is already written and in the works! So, yes.

 

Any other future projects you'd like to share?

 

The next project is called The Electric Man, which we have already shot a few days on, but are having to produce it safely and sanely around stay-at-home orders. We’ve shot a few scenes with Eric Roberts and Tom Sizemore and look forward to start shooting again in a few weeks. Then we’ll look toward getting back into production with Amber Road with Jeffrey Combs currently attached.

 

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

 

Social Distance: http://socialdistancemovie.com

Website: https://koaalohamedia.com

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram: @koaalohamedia

 

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

 

Social Distance is now available on VOD, Blu-Ray, and DVD. Where/how to watch can be found on the website at http://socialdistancemovie.com

 

Thanks for the interview!

 

Thanks so much, Michael. I truly appreciate the opportunity to speak with and share this project.

 

© by Mike Haberfelner


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Thanks for watching !!!



 

 

Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
-
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
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tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
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screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner

 

Out now from
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On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
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... and for the life of it,
you can't decide
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