Masa Gibson (they/them) and Abby J. Smith (she/her) co-founded Marked Pictures in 2013 to produce original projects together. Visit masagibson.com, abbyjsmithdesign.com, and markedpictures.com to see more of their work.
Back in the spring of 2020, we found ourselves halting preproduction on a feature project we’d been developing while we sheltered in place. Naïve and hopeful that everything would be back to “normal” within a couple of months, we decided to shoot a quick-and-dirty little “meet-cute” sketch on our rooftop, using Abby’s phone as a camera, as a temporary creative outlet. Little did we know what the rest of the year had in store for us! As spring rolled into summer, the pandemic raged and BLM took to the streets. The little sketch took on a life of its own, and what we had envisioned as a one-weekend shoot ballooned into a long-term project.
The script evolved along with our world outlook over the course of the production, as various significant global developments occupied our attention. Luckily, dialogue continuity was not an issue thanks to the face masks worn by the characters (all dialogue was planned to be recorded as ADR in post-production), and the indefinite timeline and convenient location gave us the license to be more picky about shooting conditions; we shot an hour or less a day, during pre-golden-hour light, and we only used the takes with the best sky and wind conditions. (We paused shooting for a week when the sky hazed over from the western wildfires.) We even trained local birds to fly in and out of frame for the opening and closing shots. In a very real way, those shooting sessions became our own “rooftop intermissions”.