When most film and tv productions were shut down at the beginning of the pandemic, writer/director Chris Blake pressed on. What does he have to show for it? The comedy Distancing Socially, which Cinedigm picked up and features an all-star cast that includes Alan Tudyk (Firefly, Resident Alien), Sarah Levy (Schitt’s Creek), Rory Scovel (I Feel Pretty, Physical), Andy Buckley (The Office), Jim O’Heir (Parks and Rec), Jessika Van (The Messengers), Melanie Chandra (Code Black), and Connor Paolo (Gossip Girl).
Distancing Socially explores love, friendship, and the idea that a world of increased connectivity ironically leads to greater miscommunication. You can find more info about the film here. The film will be available on demand and digital October 5th, 2021.
Chris Blake talks exclusively to Sound & Picture below about the making of Distancing Socially.
S&P: How long did it take to shoot Distancing Socially?
Chris Blake (CB): We started shooting in the summer, and I think we shot our last scenes in October. So overall, it took 2-3 months.
S&P: You shot Distancing Socially remotely with each of the actors using iPhones. This sounds like a daunting task. How difficult was it?
CB: It had its positives and negatives. We had some storage issues and some technical deficiencies that we had to work around, but production was otherwise smooth. The most stressful part of it was the logistics: scheduling cast, shipping phones, hoping nothing was damaged in transit, etc.
S&P: What was one of the biggest challenges you faced with shooting this way?
CB: Probably building trust in such a short amount of time. It was a unique and strange way of making a movie. Developing trust with the cast was a priority. They had to trust me when I said I could make a movie with an iPhone in which they were filming themselves, that they likely wouldn’t get to act opposite other cast members, and that everything was going to be fine.
S&P: Now that we are out of lockdown, would you ever shoot another movie how you did with Distancing Socially?
CB: I wouldn’t say never, but I’m not in a hurry to do it again anytime soon.
S&P: I know the physical shooting was very different than your previous films, but was the editing and post production process very different than you were used to also?
CB: There were way more visual effects in this film than in my last film. I didn’t realize when I was writing the script how much animation we were going to need. We had to work closely with our VFX supervisor before we ever shot a frame. If we hadn’t, it would’ve been a nightmare!
S&P: You have said that you originally wanted Distancing Socially to come out in 2020. What led to the film getting pushed back?
CB: The usual suspects. Scheduling, casting, etc.
S&P: You have an all-star cast in Distancing Socially with people like Sarah Levy (Schitt’s Creek), Alan Tudyk (Resident Alien) and Rory Scovel (Physical) starring. What made you decide to cast these three actors in particular for the film?
CB: Our goal from the beginning with Distancing Socially was to create something light-hearted and funny. Nobody does funny better than professional comedians. They make my job so easy. They’re so quick, and whatever they are ad-libbing will probably be funnier than anything I could write myself. I feel very fortunate they agreed to do this film.
S&P: Your last film, All Light Will End, was released and then acquired by Netflix. What was the best thing that happened after being put on Netflix?
CB: We were able to reach a much wider audience with that film once it hit Netflix, an audience that otherwise wouldn’t have likely seen the movie, and it opened a lot of doors for me as a filmmaker.
S&P: On your IMDB, it says that you are one of the producers of the upcoming film A Plague of Hounds. Can you talk about this at all?
CB: A Plague of Hounds is a preliminary title for something I’ve been working on with a close group of writers and filmmakers. I don’t want to say too much about it because we have a long way to go. I can say that it has something to do with Bram Stoker, but it has nothing to do with vampires.