Resonate is a short film Olivia McKay has produced/directed as part of her university course and, for her, this is the very beginning of her filmmaking journey with regards to scripted live action. The inspiration for the film came from one of her team members who had seen Hush (2016) - a horror film about a mute female author who is also deaf and gets stalked in her house – so they put their own twist on it. The main character is played by Macy Shaw who is naturally quite shy, and they decided to play on that factor.
The idea of a deaf person being stalked is different and that makes it attractive. Resonate is a take on their vulnerability, with a creepy and slightly old-school feel about it. Its air of nostalgia offers up 1960’s-style shots of the villain lurking around in the background, sudden hand shots on the window of the door, and knocking on windows. Scary for the audience, even if the lead character can't hear it!
The most challenging aspect of the film? “[The story] being about a deaf person. We didn’t want to overstep the mark or send the wrong message regarding deaf people, for example suggesting that this is how deaf people experience the world; it was just our creative vision for the story.
Being that the dialogue is very minimal due to the nature of the film, the storytelling was literally done visually. The character in the film wouldn’t usually be alone, but this one time she was, and she was targeted specifically because of who she was. He was infatuated with her, becoming obsessed, knowing that she was an easy target.” The film made it clear she was not his first victim, which illustrated she was doomed to be at the mercy of his twisted intentions.
Director Olivia McKay (who has only just turned 20) is a videographer and is used to making promotional videos rather than short films. “I was the official videographer for Manchester fashion week 2016/17, Liverpool fashion week 2016, and will be doing Liverpool again for 2017; plus many other live events mainly in Liverpool and Manchester for now, but I hope to expand. I also offer promotional videos and have worked with clients to create advertisement material.”
McKay said that during the making of the film she’d learnt, “[it makes] you realise how much work actually goes into a film. The work that goes into it from everyone taking part is unbelievable, but I’m absolutely loving it; I enjoy every minute of it. I do all the production work as well as the directing, which is a lot, but it was great.”
McKay expressed how pleased she was with some of the shots. “There were some really capturing shots. I liked the end shot with Tom who played the stalker, which revealed this wasn’t his only victim, he’s done this before, and he targeted her because of who she was. It told us a little bit more of what was just on the surface.”
In future story development, it would have been good to see stronger indications of the stalker's intentions while he lurks around in the background watching Steph. Although the clues in the film guided the story, the use of more subtlety in order to allow the audience some guesswork, and a dash of cliffhanger moments or toe-curling tension to contribute towards a killer ending would have enhanced the existing story.
The music selection is a strong choice of sound, and was designed to build tension. It really is a personal preference: definitely for some and not for others. The music really split opinion here at Film Curiosity.
For someone's very first short film, we were impressed with the elements McKay has already captured, such as story sequencing, character development and conveying a strong message quickly to the viewer: no doubt all skills from her filmmaking to date.
Having made a handful of shorts during her period of learning, McKay is also working on two more outside of university. “Writing isn’t solely what interests me, but while I’m making my own shorts I want to get into the practise of it. I want to try out the whole production process from pre- to post-[production], because when you do choose your role it makes you appreciate and understand everybody else.”
It seems McKay has so far lent toward thrillers, enjoying the suspense and excitement of it, and right now producing is taking over as her favourite aspect of filmmaking. The days are young, and so is she. We shall watch to see where she goes next.