“Narrative work is something that we all love to do, and it’s not every day that you get the chance to take a passion project from start to finish with a group as talented as this one.” – Kelly Pratt, Director
IT STARTS WITH AN IDEA…
As a creative team, we conceived the idea for Vacancy in Apartment B in early 2020. We all remember those days – everyone was getting a new hobby. Yes, we also baked some bread and bought some houseplants, but we realized early on that lockdown was about more than just killing time. It was an opportunity to get creative. So we decided to use the extra time to develop the project together.
It’s almost uncanny how the tone of the script lined up with what we were feeling at the time. The script was a collaborative effort, crafted over the course of many Zoom calls and pre-vis sessions. The more we worked on it, the project became an invaluable outlet for us. More than just giving us something to do, it also expressed some of the feelings of confinement and uncertainty that we were all experiencing in a new way.
Now that the film is completed, we feel it is a sort of catharsis – exploring themes that we are all wrestling with as the world opens up. Our hero, Paul, learns as we did that once you break out of your shell and see the world in a new way, you can never be the same again.
MAKING IT A REALITY
What could be more fun than staying up until the wee hours of the morning to make a movie with your friends?
We were lucky enough to experience that special feeling of combined exhaustion and satisfaction, sometime around 5am on a dewey February morning when we wrapped out the production.
The Covid-19 pandemic was at the top of our minds. As always, we took all precautions to make sure the cast and crew remained safe and healthy. We had spent months in lockdown developing the script and revising the shot list, but this was one of the first times that we had gathered a group of people together. And you could feel that excitement in the air.
The entire 14 minute film was shot over the course of one weekend, in a single location. We used every inch of the space to our advantage, because the location itself is actually a key character in the story.
The first shot we attempted was also the opening shot of the film. Working on a shoestring budget, we had no technocrane or advanced motion system. But we do have two very tall Creative Directors on our team – none other than Clyde Bessey and Jason Mitcheltree. They managed to pass the RED GEMINI mounted on a RONIN 2 down from the second story balcony by hand. Clyde was waiting at the read to pick up the Ronin with smooth precision, and kept the motion smooth, even when walking forward to follow the character. And the final result is as dynamic as it was fun to shoot.
Another fun tool we got the chance to use was the SnooriCam + RED Komodo – a rig that we could mount directly to the actor to create a trippy reverse POV shot during the climax of the film. We wanted to evoke a feeling of panic and chaos as the hero must face his fear of going outside for the first time. Our lead actor, Gabriel Palma, gave a fantastic performance here, and really took this key shot to the next level.
We also want to give a huge shoutout to ATLAS Lens Co., who supported the project by providing beautiful Anamorphic lenses that really upped our production quality. Our Director of Photography, Tyler Heckerman, used them expertly alongside the RED Gemini’s to produce some truly gorgeous imagery.
When we had made it to the Martini shot at the end of the evening, everyone was tired from the day of hard work. But not the kind of tiredness where you are dreaming of your bed. No, this was the kind of tiredness that makes you giggly, and likely to throw out obscure movie references at random intervals. And in a time when we had all been isolated for so long, the feeling of camaraderie took on a unique energy that kept us going all the way to the end.
The footage was in the can and it was time for Post. For the first time we could really start to see the script we had spent so long developing coming to life before our eyes. New collaborators brought their creative talent to the piece, elevating it to levels beyond what we could have imagined.
Deep in Post Production, far removed from the immediacy and improvisation of the Production set, sometimes you feel like you need to go back to the drawing board. And then as you look at what you’ve created through the fresh eyes of a new collaborator, you feel like there are seeds of potential being unearthed from the story that you never even considered.
Working with our Editor Chris West, Sound Designer Nikola Smikic, and Composer Solomon Murphy, it was a joy to dive deeper into the tone and pace of the film. The story was like a piece of clay, evolving as we sculpted it together.
We recently hosted a screening in Hollywood for the cast and crew, and it was a blast to see everyone again. And this is just the beginning.
Vacancy in Apartment B is currently screening in the Lift-Off Film Festival Los Angeles, in the “LA Trendsetter Shorts” category. Make sure to log on and check out their amazing roster of films this month, and cast your vote for your favorites here.
This was a passion project, from start to finish. But now we know that we don’t need a pandemic to push us to be creative any more. This experience has opened doors for Origin Point to work on more and more narrative projects, and the best is yet to come!