Indie Filmmaking during COVID: ‘Ethereal Living’ Director Stelios Daniel Antoniou

Film director and screenwriter Stelios Daniel Antoniou wrapped the principal photography of his short film Ethereal Living, thanks to the governmental Coronavirus Bounce Back Loan scheme. The director spoke with Talk Radio’s Penny Smith about the state of the industry and his film.Film Director Stelios Daniel Antoniou

  • Indie film industry was on a downward trend even before COVID
  • Government support schemes for filmmakers (available through BFI and Arts Fund) and Bounce
  • Back Loans are used by indie filmmakers to fund their projects
  • H&S measures on set are vital and require additional planning, however, it is not always possible to keep the required distance on a filming set
  • While the amount of staff on a set is being reduced, ancillary services are used more (to allow for the social distancing of the crew)
    For the majority, out of 27 freelancers involved in Ethereal Living, the project was their first job since March.

The filmmaking sector is estimated to be worth over £12bn to the UK’s economy and there are early signs of the industry picking up after the lockdown. Film director Stelios Daniel Antoniou was working on the production of his first short film ‘Ethereal Living’ for over a year before the COVID-19 pandemics stalled his plans. The independent film director was able to secure the Coronavirus Bounce Back Loan that allowed him to wrap the principal photography in early August.

Jack McEvoy Augusta Thoenig still_Ethereal Living

Jack McEvoy Augusta Thoenig still from Ethereal Living

The film was originally planned to be filmed in March of 2020 on a small budget of £8,000. However, due to the Coronavirus, the production was put on hold and a large portion of the original investment had been lost. Thankfully, Stelios was able to take advantage of the government’s ‘Bounce Back Loan’ Scheme, enabling him to recoup the budget for his film and enhance his overall vision.

With the filmmaking industry on a downward trend in the UK even before the Coronavirus crisis, the UK government support schemes for the industry were welcomed by all filmmakers. Those who don’t qualify for the BFI grants can access the Bounce Back Loan. Stelios Daniel Antoniou is one of those independent filmmakers. He admitted on the radio: “We were meant to shoot the film back in March but due to Coronavirus, my investors pulled out and I lost some of my own savings too.” By his own admission, there was no way Stelios would part with his goal to shoot this film so he decided to check out what other avenues he, as a filmmaker, was able to pursue. Thanks to the scheme, the film is now in a can and is set to be released in December 2020.

COVID-19 changed the way films are made

COVID-19 has changed the filmmaking industry

COVID-19 has changed the filmmaking industry

Speaking about the ways in which the industry has changed, Stelios confirmed: “it’s been a drastic change. But we were still able to encapsulate the spirit of being on set. Everyone had to wear masks and sanitise everything, we had to keep the two-meter or one-meter distance rule. The make-up artists had to wear visors and masks. The cast were encouraged to apply their own makeup where possible. We avoided getting actors too close together where possible. At times, unfortunately, it wasn’t possible. It’s the balance of the two.” We previously wrote about the new filming guidelines and anticipated they would discourage a lot of filmmakers.

“But being on set and being with people who are passionate about what we do. We went into it with this idea that we gotta do it, we gonna get through it and we do.”

When asked if he had to strip back the number of people working on set, the director noted that while the number of some staff was stripped to a minimum – make-up artists – the planning of social distancing required some additional staff, like managing of ancillary services to allow for social distancing off the set.

The cast and crew – a total of 27 people, including an award-winning Director of Photography, Vincenzo Marranghino (Los Fantasmas), Producer, Alisa Tritenko & actors, Jack McEvoy (Vikings), newcomer, Augusta Thoenig & Eric Colvin (Sisters Brothers) – shot on location in Buntingford & Amersham, England. And, according to the film director, for the majority of the cast and crew, it was their first job since the lockdown.

You can listen full interview on the ‘Ethereal Living’ Instagram channel:

 

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‘Ethereal Living’: if Quentin Tarantino and David Lynch had a love child

According to the director, Ethereal Living has surreal abstract notes. “It’s very Tarantino’esque with a bit of David Lynch and even Terry Gilliam style.”

The flick tells the story of Kelly (Augusta Thoenig) & Malakie (Jack McEvoy) who are hitmen for the Irish Mob. After being tasked with kidnapping a priest, Malakie begins to experience strange Hallucinations in the form of a Pre- Historic Jazz band, made up of cavemen. Even stranger, they seem to be controlled by a large Demonic Puppet Master. This causes the confused Malakie to believe the devil is after him, ultimately forcing him to question his morality and begin a search for his soul. A character-driven tale, with quirky dialogue and an ‘other-worldly tone’.

 

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