Are You Alright? | Short Film of the Day

Short Film of the Day July 1, 2021

Are You Alright?

By Alessio Summerfield with 7

thriller · Short Films

The opening image of the film is defined by a bright red - one that could suggest passion, romance, but also blood. Before you can make more sense of the violent act of a telephone getting thrashed to bits, you are immediately pulled into a visual that lies on the other end of the spectrum - serene whites, gentle smiles and the warm afternoon of a picnic between two lovers.

The first instinct might be to tie them together and expect a narrative about a romantic relationship gone awry, followed by loss and heartache. Instead, the film portrays a relationship between a man and his work, but one that has certainly gone terribly awry. As a life of endless phone calls, strings of emails, and pulling long shifts is invoked, reality bleeds into delirious dreams to entirely overpower Wallace's sense of well-being.

As the protagonist drowns deeper and deeper in the overwhelming toxicity of a society where job benefits, pay-checks and your ability to be a 'team player' define your worth, the cacophony of it all is allowed a notable delineation. This is also aided and enhanced by a surreal approach where much of the drama operates within the space of symbolism and metaphors, each of them successfully conveying the intended meaning. While the film could have gained from a little more control on its lighting, it makes a compelling point about how addictive being good at a job can be, drawing a person into an infinite loop of exhaustion, further coupled with its devastating effects on mental health.
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'Are You Alright?' was born from the deep dissatisfaction and frustration of my day-to-day life at the time. Daylighting at a job you don't love, that works you to death, while trying to moonlight as a writer and a filmmaker means burning the candle at both ends. And, some days, it meant tossing the entire candle into the fire. Eventually, the frustration of not being able to support yourself with your art leads to overworking at your day-job for positive reinforcement there. It's a death spiral in your creative life.

The cast and crew for the film were all drawn to the work because they understood. They empathized. They sympathized. They were living that exact scenario, right alongside me, all this time—suffering in silence and wanting a way to vent. So, we made a film. As with a majority of my creative endeavors, the goal was to let the emotion lead the way. I like to think that I'm a "feelings first" filmmaker. It's all in service of bottling an emotional state and pushing for that state to wash over the audience in hopes that something gets communicated that can't be put into words.

The red telephone. The constant ringing. The entanglement of responsibilities and communication and fear and anger and sadness and stress. Knowing that your time is slipping out of your hands and watching it happen with no way to fight back. The hopelessness of it all and the catharsis of the fantasy of lashing out. I think you see and feel a push-back against this horrid work-life imbalance all around us right now. People haven't been alright for a long time. Now, like the cast and crew and the protagonist, it's time to change that.
Alessio SummerfieldDirector, Are You Alright?