01 Feb Social Distance: Filmmaking in a Pandemic
Melodie: Congrats on winning third place for a Short Comedy Film in MY RODE REEL 2020. We love the premise of this film! Where did the creative spark come from for Social Distance?
Lucas Bradley: We were having a conversation about the lockdown of a public housing tower in North Melbourne. There were all these different stories coming out from residents who weren’t allowed to leave their apartments. There was some footage of a family and one of the kids had a massive drum kit – “what could be worse”? Then we just started spit-balling that idea of “what could be worse”.
How did you go about having two scriptwriters? What’s your creative process as a team?
Myles (Conti) and I have been writing partners for just over five years now. Most of the time that we spend on a script is just talking things through. To be honest, I don’t know how people write solo. With a partner you can bounce ideas back and forth and cull the bad ones. Once we’ve agreed on an approach we generally divvy-up the work. We’ve had the discussion about what needs to go into a scene, so it makes sense that the actual writing of that scene is done individually. Then we read each other’s stuff and re-write it.
Were there any creative challenges or hard decisions to make – even way back from script stage – to ensure that this film could actually be produced in the midst of a global pandemic?
The biggest challenge was really finding the right location. The whole film takes place in an apartment. We had a few friends with apartments, but most of them were working from home and didn’t want to share their home office with a film crew. We also needed to shoot a scene at the front door, so booking an Airbnb or similar didn’t really work because hallways are common areas and not controlled by the Airbnb host.
What might have you done differently if this film was produced any other year?
Well, of course, there wouldn’t have been an idea without the pandemic. The film definitely benefits from the short-hand of that globally shared experience. As for production, we could have used one or two more crew members which we had to do without because of Social Distancing rules in a small space. Having said that, a smaller crew definitely has its benefits. Everyone just has that little bit more ownership. It was one of the most enjoyable experiences I’ve had on set.
Not missing the irony here, but what kind of restrictions did you face on set due to social distancing rules?
The main one was the amount of people that we were allowed to have in the apartment. Everyone was also wearing masks which is something we’re all getting used to now, but back then I think it was the first shoot that we had done with those protocols. In the lead up, Myles (my writing partner and the Director) worked with all the actors over Zoom calls, so when they arrived on-set, it was the first time that we all met in-person. Bit of a strange experience when you are all masked up, but as we got into the rhythm of the day it became a lot easier.
You used a Melodie track, ‘Mr. Busybody’ by Vincent Russo. How did you come to settle on this track and why?
When we got into the edit suite we realised that our hero needed a musical theme. Our hero’s day just gets worse and worse and “Mr. Busbody” did a great job of capturing that plodding descent into hell – in a totally comedic way of course.
Thanks for your time Lucas!