It’s pure coincidence that our short film portrays a world in upheaval with characters wearing masks to protect themselves. We swear.
I shared the first draft of LUNGS with my creative partner N.C. Jones in early March 2020- just a few days from the initial COVID-19 lockdown. Who could have predicted the eerily similar circumstances of the real world? While sequestered at home, N.C. and I met regularly (virtually) and reflected on how the story could evolve and what filmmaking might look like during a global pandemic.
For me, LUNGS has always been about altruism, resilience, and redemption. Despite their initial differences, our characters, Satchel and Abhay, find that they are stronger together than they are alone. Empathy isn’t weakness and salvation is working together to develop community and assist one another in this hostile environment. These still felt like important themes to express in a time when people were hoarding groceries, denying health facts, and openly putting themselves and others at risk.
We got serious about filming in 2021 after COVID protocols were starting to become more common on set. However, we also were very conscious of the rising cases leading up to the holidays. Deciding it was now or never, we spent five days filming in our hometown of Raleigh, NC in the week leading up to Christmas. Our locations included the prominent, independent Mission Valley movie theater which had unfortunately closed permanently due to the pandemic and the Holly Springs minor league baseball stadium.
We enlisted the help of producer Shawn Lamons to help us maintain a safe filming environment for our talent and crew. Crew were masked at all times and medical supplies such as hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes, and additional masks were constantly available.
We partnered with local North Carolina artists who were looking for ways to collaborate with others and stretch themselves in a time when we’d been so isolated. Many businesses and crew donated or heavily discounted their services to keep costs down.
Finally, we were fortunate to utilize the new Screen Actors Guild Micro agreement. This granted us permission to work with the talented (and also NC local) Anoop Desai (What We Do In The Shadows, American Idol), who graciously agreed to be involved with our little production.
In many ways, the making of LUNGS also reflected the values and themes of our story. While I’m proud of how we stretched ourselves creatively with a limited budget and resources, I’m most proud of the community we built and collaborated with to bring this story to life.