Are you ready for the experience of ‘Alone’? It seems like quite a ridiculous question to be asking in South Africa in May, 2020, right?
But, if i may have your attention for just a few minutes, i would love to tell you about this gem of a short film i was invited to watch and talk about. In the process, you may even find that you will give yourself the opportunity to be seen, heard, and understood.
Durban filmmakers, Tami and Dylan Marriott of The Edit Room took some footage they had shot for a showreel, that had been gathering dust since sometime last year, gave it a Homepocalypse makeover, in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic and submitted it to the Enfoque International Film Festival.
Best Short Film at The Enfoque International Film Festival
Hosted in Puerto Rico since 2008, the Enfoque International Film Festival was established to show inspiring films that can change people’s lives through the power of cinematography. The organisers select and exhibit films that “inspire, educate, transform and inform or have the ability to shift audiences’ perspectives on the world”.
Entries for this category had to be made this year (2020) and be under 30 minutes.
‘Alone’, a locally made short film with a powerful message that resonates with all experiencing the isolation of lockdown, scooped the best short film award at the Enfoque International Film Festival. This is a first for South Africa.
The Little Film That Could
According to writer and director of ‘Alone’, Tami Marriott, the award-winning film was something of a surprise even for the filmmakers. Especially when you take into account that the film had competed against 475 other entries from around the world.
“It was never intended to be what it became. We filmed the bulk of it over a year ago as a passion project to bulk up our individual portfolios.
The original script was written about a girl who was trapped indoors and could not go outside because of a zombie apocalypse that had destroyed mankind.
As busy lives go, after filming it – we never got around to editing or recording the voice over. So, it sat on a hard drive gathering dust and guilt because it had not been completed. Then, Covid-19 hit us and we started conceptualising a story to support those who are alone and taking emotional strain.
It was only when I started writing this script that it clicked! Everything about our zombie film worked into our current message and with a few adaptions, we could make it a powerful story.”
Creating a film under lockdown
The logistics of rewriting and recording the new voice over whilst adhering to stringent social distancing regulations proved a challenge, Marriott admits.
“It was a group effort through and through. When it was filmed, the lockdown wasn’t a problem. When it came to editing, it was. One of our editors is in Pretoria, our voice-over artist in Cape Town, our sound designer is on the South Coast and our graphics artist is on the North Coast! We used We-Transfer to send each other edits and files and had Skype calls for direction. Through the internet, we managed to pool our resources to pull it off,” she explains.
The Edit Room
Feedback was astounding after The Edit Room launched ‘Alone’ across all social media platforms on April 28. As a result, the filmmakers decided to post the film on Film Freeway which is a tool for film-makers to get their work submitted into festivals.
“I noticed there was a call for Covid-19 related films and saw the opportunity to spread our message further than just Durban. International film festivals allow you to reach a global audience which is so important, especially in times like this where it can feel like countries are so isolated from each other,” Marriott adds.
The Edit Room, which Marriott describes as a junior filmmaker in South Africa, was set up in 2018 by the passionate husband and wife team. The couple had been working as freelancers in the film industry and decided to pool their clients and create a brand.
“The concept behind The Edit Room is that we team up with industry leaders on a project to project basis and work together to pull off high-quality work on a local and international level. Dylan is truly the heart of The Edit Room and most of our projects are pulled together by his unique eye and creative technical skill.
‘Alone’ was written and directed by me with Dylan executive producing. We teamed up with good friend and talented filmmaker, Lelanie Du Preez and then roped in two others – Devin Carter, who crafted our lighting, and Nux Schwartz who did the sound design,” she explains.
Life beyond ‘Alone’
The Marriotts believe this award will open the door to a global market, albeit one that will be impacted by Covid-19.
“It is an interesting time for the film industry. It will need to keep down costs and work with small teams. Luckily for The Edit Room, this has always been us and we are very well practiced at making beautiful work with micro crews.”
During Lockdown, The Edit Room intends continuing filming and spreading the message that is central to ‘Alone’:
“Hang in there. Look after yourselves and reach out to others so that they know that they are not alone. Practice kindness and communication and we WILL get through this.“
Written & Directed: Tami Marriott
Starring: Emma Devine
Director of Photography: Lelanie Du Preez
Lighting: Devin Carter
Editors: Lelanie Du Preez & Dylan Marriott
Colourist: Dylan Marriott
Sound Design: Nux Schwartz
Voice Artist: Savannah Schutzler
GFX: Andrew Sutherland
Brought to you by The Edit Room & Ambient Films
Additional Lighting from our friends DT Film Services
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If you enjoyed watching this amazing little film, please help by spreading this far and wide. This might be the best five minutes of someone else’s day as well.