This Life Of Ours is a wistful and enigmatic super-short that elegantly travels an emotional distance as it light-foots it down the road. Director Dom Lee explains what attracted him to a 90 second romance
What’s the story of This Life Of Ours and what attracted you to making it?
It revolves around a guy and a girl sharing a moment on a quiet street at night. To some degree it’s deliberately left ambiguous and up for audiences to interpret it how they wish. The inspiration come from channelling thoughts/feelings I had at the time into a narrative form.
Having spent around two years making musical short Between the Lines and really enjoying that process, I was keen to make something else musical but which had a very different vibe. The fact it could be shot in under three hours in a single location rather than 15 days in multiple Devon locations was also a bonus!
It’s 90 seconds long. What were the challenges of getting the emotional connection across in that time, and how did the style help that?
It’s a nice challenge to have. The core of the story is simple and there’s a few subtle hints weaved throughout which hopefully pay off at the end. To be honest I think a lot of the emotional connection comes from the actors – Ollie McFarlane and Posy Sparey were both brilliant in the film and great to work with.
Ben Malley, who scored my film Croak, wrote a beauty of a song for the film and the lyrics/mood of that play a huge part in hopefully generating an emotional response. Choosing to shoot at night on a quiet street plays a big part in generating the film’s atmosphere – I don’t think it would have worked set on a busy street during the day. It really allows you to focus on the characters.
What was it like working without dialogue?
I do really enjoy it – mainly as I find writing dialogue incredibly difficult. The lyrics from the song do a lot of the work so it really allowed me to focus on what visuals I wanted to use to help tell the story.
Is there a different approach to making a microshort, and is there a different way audiences absorb such a short film?
I don’t think the approach is different, as I’d generally say I often set about making short films in the same way as I’ve found a formula which works for me. Being only 90 seconds long might make it easier to absorb or watch to some degree, if you’re scrolling along on social media and it looks interesting you might stop and watch it there and then. Contrast that to Between the Lines which is 15 minutes long so perhaps requires a bit more effort to want to watch.
Why did you choose to film in Devon’s cultural hotspot Newton Abbot?
Having filmed over half of Between the Lines there it’s becoming my new favourite place to film. We wanted somewhere largely pedestrianised and quiet so somewhere like Exeter was out. We did look at Dawlish and Teignmouth but Newton Abbot’s high street was just perfect for our purposes as there was a nice variety of features in a short amount of space.
How did you find your cast and crew?
Like most of my projects it’s a mix of new faces and people I’ve worked with before. Producer Jeff Sleeman, Costume Designer Minna Gibbs-Nicholls and Choreographer Rebecca (Bex) Melvin Phillips I’d worked with on Between the Lines. Sound recordist Jacob Saul edited Croak. Cinematographer Sam Konetsky I met at Bex’s Taphouse Film Club events in Newton Abbot and asked him to be involved.
I’d spoken to Ollie who plays ‘Guy’ before, but wasn’t aware of Posy who plays ‘Girl’. Both responded to the casting call and I thought they’d be a great fit for the project. Their character names are a little nod to my favourite musical film Once.
Why are you releasing this on Valentine’s Day, and who should watch it?
However you wish to interpret it, the film is unquestionably a romance so it felt right. It’s only 90 seconds long so I hope anyone and everyone might give it a chance.
Top image: Posy and Ollie. Courtesy of Jim Elton
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