Isolated deep in the woods during the worst winter on record, Conrad and Anna grasp tightly to hope when she falls ill with pneumonia. A film about love, determination and madness.
In the deep northern woods of Vermont, we are set in a subdued tone where an isolated couple are confronted by the worst winter on record, which they are foreseeably unprepared for. But the hellish weather is just a trigger to an already weakening relationship, and with worsening health conditions they must consider their past choices, while grasping tightly to hope.
This film came from a desire to illuminate characters which I had been turning over in my head for some time. I had an idea about a man and a wife living in seclusion because of their beliefs. This man seemed to me afraid. Afraid of letting any outside light into his small, protected family. He hoards control in the name of his faith until it becomes his and her undoing. I have stories in my family of similar situations and I really thought it would be an important exercise to follow this thread based on my own family history and where these characters were taking me. Justin Derry, my co-director, co-writer and cinematographer, simultaneously was mulling over the idea of creating something set against a stark winter landscape dealing with isolation. Our visions met and we formed this story over many weeks and even more drafts. So many drafts!
The cast and crew went through great lengths to create a real sense of desperation and urgency in the film. Once the wonderful Anne-Marie Mueschke was casted to play Conrad’s wife Anna, they began a months-long rehearsal process, where they slowly refined the script and characters based on the rehearsals and some improvisation. To reflect the starvation and lack of food the characters experience, Anne-Marie and Adrian lost upwards of twenty pounds in the end. The crew also had to endure some pretty extreme conditions.
With production on the horizon, we assembled the most amazing producers and crew of experienced, like-minded film friends, some old and some new, and shot over five days in below-freezing Vermont wintertime. It was often grueling, but it was also a surreal experience that we will never forget. We rented a strange assortment of Airbnbs around the area to house everyone, including the main cabin location from the wonderful and generous Mike Welch, who also offered to take us up in his plane where we obtained our incredible aerial shots.
All the fine details and extra efforts the team added along with the sincere focus on character development and depth, really brings the audience to an enhanced cinematic experience.