“They’ve already done the screaming. They’ve already done the fighting. They’ve already done the arguing. They’ve already done the crying. They’ve already made the choice to end things.” Writer/director Tim Seyfert is telling us about Terminus, a short film about the end of a relationship. Some relationships are just not fixable.
“I wanted to make silence a third character,” says Tim. “Those long silences are lines in themselves.”
A lot of the dialogue, especially at the beginning of Terminus, the characters are trying to talk their way around what they’re actually feeling. Trying to fill the silence with noise. To relieve the tension. It’s uncomfortable. And familiar.
That tension is heightened by the way it was shot, and its voyeuristic style. Images are framed through windows, door frames and the back of a car.
“The audience is meant to be a fly on the wall,” says Tim, “like we’re spying on these characters, following them during this difficult time.”
All the camera shots are handheld to mimic the way the human gaze floats around the room. When we first chatted to Tim, in pre-production for Terminus, he talked about Fishtank, Blue Valentine and Half Nelson as visual influences.
The film was made during lockdown, with six people (following Covid guidelines) including DP Ben Fullman, sound recordist Chris Baker and assistant producer Andrew Brierley, all with a minimum (as in none) of cash.
“There was certainly guerilla filmmaking going on in terms of us just rocking up to some of the locations and shooting,” says Tim. The tricky part of the film was the railway station. Luckily they’d chosen the end of a line, so the lack of control was kept to a minimum.
“When we finished the two day shoot, I couldn’t believe we pulled it off,” he says. ‘I couldn’t be more pleased with what we managed to achieve.”
The experience has been so creatively rewarding that Tim and his team are looking to extend that get-down-and-do guerrilla style to future projects, having since formed a production company – Kernowfornia Film Company.
“Doing this has been a lovely reminder that you don’t need a lot to make something meaningful. You just need to be aware of the story you want to tell and what you have at your disposal, then just go out there and do it. Everything about this project was raw and simple, a refreshing return to basics.”
After the virtual premiere with cast and crew, Terminus is lined up for a few festivals. It has already picked up two outstanding achievement awards at Indie X Film Fest in L.A. for Indie Short Film and First Time Director.
“The team is humbled, especially for a film that cost little more than pizza and diesel to make,” says Tim. “We couldn’t be more appreciative of how the film’s been received so far.”
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