THE CALLING, 5min., USA
Directed by Jay Dallen
The Calling is a mysterious sci-fi drama short film that follows Naomi as she is drawn to a crystal orb with otherworldly powers. As she relives memories of her relationship with Ian, she must make a fateful decision that will determine her fate.
Get to know the filmmaker:
1. What motivated you to make this film?
The original idea for THE CALLING came from a bunch of "what ifs" rolled into one.
When I was working on a documentary in D.C., I saw a purple orb sitting all by itself in front of a rowhouse. It was just so out of place– like it just appeared out of nowhere.
Later, on another shoot, we stopped for some night photography on the side of a road, and with everyone staring into the dark edge of the forest I wondered what it would feel like to see someone just walk into the forest, again with no explanation.
These experiences, combined with an appetite for the unknown, led me to a story about how memory might impact and even shape our relationships. At the same time this was an exercise in creating a short film with a tight, economical story, authentic performances and clear tonal shifts.
2. From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this film?
Filming took place over the course of 10 hours in the desert near Palmdale, CA in 2021.
The two leads were fantastic, Nicole Tompkins and Michael Provost. They were integral to the development of the story and the ease of capturing it in a day, alongside the talented sound mixer, Ori Rendler, and the invaluable assistance of Ollie Chater. With a small, dialed-in crew we were able to focus on capturing the best and most valuable moments in what is a pretty stripped-down concept.
Taking on the roles of producer, writer, director and DP simultaneously was a significant challenge and offered continuous lessons about both myself and the filmmaking process. After production the project was put on the back burner for a little over a year until Mike Skanes jumped on the edit last year.
3. How would you describe your film in two words!?
4. What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?
We went in with a light script, choosing to explore the story in a more emergent approach which kicked the can down the road into the edit. Fortunately, Nicole and Michael brought brilliant performances on the day and really committed to deepening the core dramatic arc in several VO and ADR sessions.
You make the movie three times they say, "in the script, on the day, and in the edit," and Mike Skanes lent his talent massively in post with a fresh perspective, and a knack for polish. This was a great lesson in how one affects the next and how iteration and persistence are absolutely critical.
5. What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?
I'm really glad you all take the time to create and send over those reaction videos. It was lovely hearing so many perspectives on the film. Part of the nature of THE CALLING is to leave the audience with new questions, and it's wonderful to hear folks dig into the mystery.
I'm really thrilled that people responded to Ariadne Randall's score. Ariadne is a gifted composer and I'm very grateful for her raw, artistic contribution. The entire score was composed and performed live on physical instruments, , fluidly dancing between three different distinct tones in such a short piece.
I'm really thrilled that people responded to Ariadne Randall's score. Ariadne is a gifted composer, and I'm very grateful for her raw artistry. The entire score was composed and performed live on physical instruments and captures the thematic and emotional transitions.
6. When did you realize that you wanted to make films?
Back in middle school I started running around with camcorders making movies with friends. Around then I remember being blown away by RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK, thinking, "wow, somebody got to make that."
In a predictable turn of events, years later, I ended up studying Archaeology at UCLA. Despite the first page of my first textbook saying, "this isn't like Indiana Jones," I went so far as to participate in excavations in Peru and British Columbia, even contributing to a paper published later. That time in the Anthropology department gave me a thirst for adventure, developed my love for understanding humanity, and a solid foundation for a pivot to the documentary and ethnographic approaches in anthropology. After making my first short doc I was hooked– trading in my trowel for a camera as it were.
7. What film have you seen the most in your life?
Tough one, some of my favorite movies I feel quite reverent about, so I save them for what feels like the right time. In terms of movies I watch repeatedly I'd say FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING and PRINCESS BRIDE.
8. What other elements of the festival experience can we and other festivals implement to satisfy you and help you further your filmmaking career?
A sense of community is important, I think. Festivals are the often first places audiences get to experience what you've made, and filmmakers getting feedback to their film is wonderful.
9. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway. How has your experiences been working on the festival platform site?
FilmFreeway is a pretty seamless way to submit and keep track of festivals, but sorting through the many available can be daunting.
10. What is your favorite meal?
In everyday life? Some nice sushi. On set? I try to push for healthy options, as it can get pretty dire out there depending on the shoot.
11. What is next for you? A new film?
I try to have as many balls in the air as possible. Among several projects, absolutely, I'm developing a new short— aiming higher again. I'm working with a close writer friend and I don't want to say too much, but we're excited.