Covid-19 has had an enormous impact on mental health. For many, the loneliness that’s come with quarantine and working from home has been especially difficult to deal with.
This loneliness is examined in a captivating film released this week. Clocking in at nearly five minutes, the film is narrated by Sarah Jessica Parker and features original music from Sufjan Stevens. In it, 10 individuals are seen grappling with isolation in various ways—painting, baking, drinking, vacuuming, dancing, pill-popping and so on.
It’s an honest and vulnerable look at the ups and downs of living in a tiny apartment alone, especially at a time when even simply seeing a friend “feels like a crime,” as Parker says.
The film is a labor of love that involved a number of collaborators. It began with Ezequiel Consoli, a senior art director at Dentsumcgarrybowen. In April, he found himself reflecting on his own loneliness and thinking of ways to creatively express it.
“I live by myself, and I basically realized that it was taking a toll on me to go through this by myself,” he said. “It was a weird time for creatives, because we couldn’t really produce anything. It was very frustrating creatively.”
He soon got in touch with Kyle Harrison, a copywriter at RPA. Consoli and Harrison, who previously worked together at McCann, have collaborated on a number of projects before. Two years ago, they created “Your Voting Date,” an Instagram-driven effort that encouraged voters to find a plus-one for the midterm elections so they could hit the polls together.
The two wrote a poem that captured the anxiety, sadness and fear many people have experienced over the past six months, while also celebrating the strength it’s taken to push through.
They then looped in Ezra Hurwitz, a director with HunterPark Productions, who essentially helped them bring the poem to life in video form. Hurwitz, a former professional ballet dancer, had been directing branded content for hospital systems in New York at the time. Because of this, he said he was “aware of developing Covid-19 protocols for production.”
Hurwitz leveraged many of his connections in the ballet community for the project. Justin Peck, the New York City Ballet’s resident choreographer and a friend of Hurwitz, choreographed the dancers in the film remotely.
Parker is on the New York City Ballet’s board of directors, and Stevens has long created scores for Peck. Two of the dancers featured in the film are part of the New York City Ballet.
“I was immediately drawn to incorporating movement into this,” Hurwitz said, explaining that he was inspired by Instagram photos that Robert Fairchild, also a ballet dancer, had been posting of himself dancing on his roof.
“You could see the city behind him, and it just felt like he was both trapped but also kind of hopeful,” Hurwitz said. Fairchild is one of the dancers in the video.
In terms of production, Hurwitz said they opted to film outside for safety reasons. Mary Howard, an art director and production designer, let them film on her studio’s roof in Red Hook, Brooklyn and gave them access to her massive warehouse of props.
“That was a huge moment,” Hurtwitz said. “That allowed us to take this to the next level. I wanted to make each space feel really different.”
Filming took place over Memorial Day Weekend, just days after New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo permitted nonessential gatherings of 10.