Short film created during lockdown in Hemel Hempstead selected for international film festival

The film shows a love story told between two people playing a game of Scrabble via text messaging

Friday, 2nd October 2020, 6:52 pm
Updated Friday, 2nd October 2020, 7:02 pm

A short film created during the height of lockdown and shot remotely in Hemel Hempstead and Leicester has been selected for an international film festival.

‘Double Word Score’, a 90-second film created in May, explores the romance between neighbours during the coronavirus pandemic.

The film has now been chosen as part of the official selection of DepicT! a short film competition at the Encounters Film Festival.

The film shows a love story told between two people playing a game of Scrabble via text messaging

The group, lead by director Keith Allott and featuring actor Joe Street, from Hemel Hempstead, completed the film over a three-week period, meeting regularly and developing the production via Zoom.

Joe said: “At a time when it felt like the whole industry had shut down it was really just great to be shooting something again.

"It was the first time I'd been on a set without crew in the room and it’s incredible that we've managed put this all together while stuck in our own homes.

"It was interesting, I have never done anything like that before, but it was really fun and good to be able to do something.

Joe features in the short film

"It's short, only 90 seconds long, but I hope people enjoy it.

"It’s a happy uplifting story and I’m hoping it puts a smile on the faces of those who watch it."

The film, featuring lead actor Mbili Munthali, shows a love story told between two people playing a game of Scrabble via text messaging.

Photographs of increasingly flirtatious words are exchanged between the pair until an invite to dinner is extended but is it a step too far and was the invite misjudged?

‘Double Word Score’ was created during lockdown

Allott said: “The film came as a welcome release and a distraction from the stress we were experiencing at the time. To create a film safely gave a huge boost to everyone involved and we’re very proud of what we managed to create.”

The group were brought together through an initiative called Micro Shorts run by and including members of BAFTA Crew, the academies initiative to support the next generation of film talent.

The process of making the film included developing the original script written by Edinburgh-based writer Kevin Walls into a shot list designed by director of photography Thomas Shawcroft and scheduled by producer Dom Lee.

The completed script and shot list were provided to the actors who rehearsed their performances and practised their shots with the director.

Both actors self-filmed all their scenes while accompanied virtually via Zoom by the director.

Allott added: “To complete the film safely we knew that we could not meet each other as a crew, and we couldn’t operate in our usual roles.

"We had to make sure everything was in place both artistically and technically for the actors so they could film themselves.

"Once we were in production it was just a case of giving the actors the confidence to self-film and provide notes on any adjustments there might be.”

The footage created was shared digitally with editor Giorgio Galli and composer Roma Yagnik who assembled the look of the film and the musical score.

Once completed the film was entered into DepicT! Watershed Cinema’s super-short filmmaking competition.

With over 1,360 entries from over 80 countries competing for the final 60 screening spaces there was an incredibly exciting and diverse pool of talent to whittle down.

‘Double Word Score’ is currently available to watch online as part of the final selection and is being considered for one of the festival’s five awards including the Audience Choice which decided by a public vote.

Allott said: “To be selected for such a prestigious festival is a real honour especially considering the circumstances in which our film was created.

"We’re looking forward to seeing all the other films we’ll be appearing alongside and who knows we might even pick up an award too.”

Double Word Score has also been nominated for "Best Project: Lockdown Film" at this year’s Birmingham Film Festival, and also for the "Mini Short" section at "Short to the Point" festival in Bucharest, Romania.

You can watch ‘Double Word Score’, vote for it and leave a comment by visiting: www.depict.org/2020/double-word-score. Voting closes on Saturday, October 3, at 9am.