Filmmaker Creates Inspiring Shortfilm by Himself During Quarantine

This year has forced many photographers and filmmakers to take an extended break from their day jobs and stay home. The newfound stresses that come with quarantine have left a lot of us uninspired, while others have used this time to pursue projects they couldn't find time for before. One professional filmmaker used his time during quarantine to create a beautiful Sci-Fi short film, from the comfort of his own home.

Commercial DP, Joe Simon, decided to use his time during quarantine to flex his creative muscle and film a short mostly by himself (with only his wife to occasionally help by hitting record, as well as enlisting the help of a remote colorist and VFX specialist.) Simon's inspiration came from the empty streets in his town during quarantine and the use of hazmat suits in 80s Sci-fi movies. What started as a simple idea of a scientist in isolation, and exploring a deserted city in a hazmat suit, eventually grew to a fully-fledged storyline as the filming process progressed.  

In the video above, SImon speaks to FilmRiot and offers an insight into equipment he used and the process of him filming most of the film by himself. The process challenged him to rethink a lot of the traditional dolly and zoom shots used in conventional film making, due to only having access to essential equipment such as a camera, a light, and a tripod. Without access to equipment such as sliders or dollies, meant he had to instead focus all the energy on creating beautiful and interesting compositions that would work as static shots, using leading lines to direct the viewer's attention to the point of interest. In post-production, he would add a digital zoom to enhance the mood and feel of the compositions along with the necessary color grade and VFX.

Lastly, Simon also offers some valuable tips for making your low budget production seem like a big budget, large scale production by discussing the following points in the video:

  • Find the ideal location that fits with the story you're trying to tell.
  • Utilize the best light possible by only shooting during golden hour.
  • Use props that help detail the story you're trying to convey.

While Simon uses expensive equipment such as Arri Fresnels and shoots on an Alexa Mini, it's important to remember that these are just tools he used to produce his work. One can easily create a powerful film by using the gear you already own and using window light to your advantage. It's not necessary to have the biggest and the best. But of course, you can have the best equipment in the world, but it wouldn't mean much if you don't have a good idea or a story to tell from the start.

If you're still under quarantine and looking for some inspiration, check out Simon's short film on Vimeo above. While it's a challenge to work alone (especially when you're the filmmaker and actor), Simon has done an incredible job at filming and editing this short over a few months.

Fred van Leeuwen's picture

Fred van Leeuwen is a South African-based photographer and filmmaker. He operates under The Image Engineer, working on short films, portraits, and landscape photography.

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in this climate, I only needed a few things

I think quarantine is probably the wrong word unless he was tested positive for the Covid-19 virus. Perhaps he was in isolation. I also think film is the wrong word since it was video he recorded with a digital camera. But... that's just me. I'm the guy that gets tired of hearing photographers refer to a cable release when they mean a remote shutter control. 99% of photographers have never even seen a cable release but they think it sounds cool.

---"I think quarantine is probably the wrong word unless he was tested positive for the Covid-19 virus. Perhaps he was in isolation."

You have it backwards.

---"I also think film is the wrong word since it was video he recorded with a digital camera"

"Film" doesn't necessarily mean the medium when used in reference to a movie/short. Most are on digital nowadays. Have you heard anyone say, "We're videoing a new movie next week"? Me neither.

Hi! If you liked this then there is another Filmmaker who created a VFX short film during this lockdown all by himself. Check it out!