While Covid-19 has literally shut down the globe, forcing people within their homes, the innovation and evolution of human communication has reached new heights. Like so many, teachers, entertainers and individuals alike, teleconferencing technology has become the powerhouse of connectivity, filling in the voids of loneliness as we wait out this pandemic in unison.
But not only has it pushed our drive for communication in a technologically driven world, it has unified and connected us in ways that have never been so far-reaching. Celebrities like John Krasiniski have brought us Some Good News, cast reunions have entertained, Netflix watch parties have united and even virtual weddings have been shared by millions.
I too, through the ingenuity of friends, have had the experience of reshaping my perspective of what communication in a pandemic can look like. Utilizing Zoom and FaceTime, online Game nights, #MealMondays, #WineWesndays and a murder mystery evening have made the physical absence of friends due to social distancing that much more bearable – the latter deeply driving the need to see Dolly Wells, Susie Ewing and Heidi Greensmith’s pilot episode for Little Room.
Shot during the lockdown, Little Room follows an eccentric band of individuals unified by the sole purpose of discovering the whereabouts of Dr. Das. The catch: the majority appear to be suffering from agoraphobia, communicating strictly from the comfort of their homes through a Zoom like app called Zapp.
Little Room’s pilot opens with a man trying to persuade a woman to release her credit card information over the teleconference app, assuring her information will be perfectly safe. Having just paid to view the pilot (which we will discuss in a moment), and even with opening credits at the pilot’s beginning, I began wondering what had just happened, whether I had just been taken advantage of. The instant tension and concern instantly gets your heart pumping, filling in the silences as Oskar with a K begins to dismantle the illusion he has created within his room. While I am sure not this was the original intent of the directors, it is an instant hook, ensnaring viewers in not a fiscal mousetrap, but a narrative one.
As Oskar reaches out to Dr. Das for their scheduled teleconference, he is distressed to be only greeted by his voicemail. Uncharacteristic of the Doctor, Oskar utilizes his savvy, and seemingly illegal, computer skills to tap into the doctor’s list of contacts, Zapping each of his clients to ascertain his whereabouts. What he is met with instead is an eclectic array of patients who only drive the mystery further.
Strangely enough, it took some time to become adjusted to the filming style and “zoomed” framing. Having spent two months in lockdown, one would have assumed that it would have instantly been an acceptable layout, the brain rewired to instantly accept this structured narrative style. This awkwardness is similar to what is experienced when you first watch Searching starring John Cho, where the use of cameras in security cameras, phones and computers are utilized through the entirety of the film to relay its story.
Though adjusted you do become, watching as each character is introduced and relays the nuanced information about not only Dr. Das, but themselves as well. What is immediately noticeable is that Little Room gives great detail to each of the characters, many times in a “blink of an eye and you’ll miss it” moments, but it plays with what it can in its limited context. Through the little comments and questions, viewers are also able to gather little tidbits of information and personality – much as you would during a murder mystery. Add the details of each of their “little rooms” they communicate from, and each “zapped” window provides an inquisitive snapshot into their lives.
Beyond the narrative and setting, Little Room boasts an impressive cast as well. Grace Van Patton (Good Posture), Brian Cox (Succession), Claes Bang (Dracula), and many others digitally transverse land and sea to bring each of their characters to life and contribute to this cinematically brilliant response to the Covid-19 pandemic. And best of all, it’s all for a good cause.
Little Room, Big Heart
Created by producer Maggie Monteith, Little Room is not only a creative endeavor born out of the pandemic, it is also a timely response to the impact freelance entertainers have found themselves facing. As everything world wide had been shut down, the entertainment industry too has suffered. While the blows most visible are the cancellations of festivals and the postponement of the most anticipated films, those in the entertainment industry – both in front and behind the camera – have been left out of work.
Teaming up with Pinpoint, Monteith saw the opportunity to not only create and encourage art during a pandemic, but too also utilize it to help others. Little Room, at the end of the day, was filmed with the purpose of raising money for the film and TV relief funds. Requiring a minimum donation of $1 to view, the money raised will help provide relief for entertainment freelancers impacted financially during this unprecedented time. And like its transatlantic cast, the money raised with be split between the UK and the US.
When looking at strictly the pilot, the questions remains: would you watch more? Yes! While you can feel and see the awkwardness and challenges that filming separately and during lockdown may have created, there is a suspense and a curiosity to find out what happened to Dr. Das. I hope Little Room can grow beyond a pilot, delivering a bit of mystery to our remaining quarantine and acceptance of the “new normal”.
This was certainly an intriguing idea, as well as both swiftly and timely in its execution. And at the end of the day, it is all for a good cause!
What have you watched during the lockdown? Let us know in the comments below!
Little Room “Pilot” can be watched here.
The funds raised from viewing of Little Room will go to the following relief schemes and split between the UK (click here for more info) and US (click here for more info).
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