Kaya Torres is circling a black hole in a pod, with no one coming, no one to help. She’s alone.

Kaya Torres, an engineer with a sailor’s mouth and a stubborn spirit, barely escapes her research ship when calamity breaks it in half. Now she’s circling a black hole in a pod, with no one coming, no one to help. She’s alone.

Director William Hellmuth explore’s Kaya’s survival journey in this high concept sci-fi, as her options slowly dwindle. The talented Stephanie Barkley (also just starred in our selection Away From It All) plays the lead Kaya in a memorable performance. We spoke with William who told us a little more on the making of the film.

Can you tell us what inspired you to bring Alone to life?

I actually discovered ALONE initially as a short story. It was published in a sci-fi anthology that I read because I was searching for good movie ideas. After reading it, I was so touched by Kaya’s journey, the message of perseverance, and the theme of loneliness. I contacted the author, J. Scott Worthington, and he adapted the story to a screenplay for me.

Tell us about the set design, how was I crafted and what was it inspired by?

Production design was one of our greatest challenges. I’m not a production designer or set builder, so I knew right up front that I couldn’t build the space pod myself. It took about a year to find someone who could. Eventually, Eric Palmer (an incredibly talented production designer) signed on and worked some serious magic building the set for us. We had very limited resources and a very small budget ($6k total for the entire film), so I tried not to marry myself to one particular look or style for the pod. Eric and I read the script together and my main direction was that I wanted the pod to feel very claustrophobic, and as if it was an outdated piece of tech. Barely holding together.

What was the most challenging scene for you to film?

Everything during the shoot actually went very smoothly. Our producer, Julianna Ulrich, did an incredible job making sure everything was planned, organized, and ready to go. I storyboarded and blocked the entire film, so there were no big creative challenges to overcome during production. And our actors (Steph Barkley and Thomas Wilson Brown) both did an outstanding job diving into their characters and inhabiting each moment.

Do you have any tips or advice to offer fellow filmmakers making a sci-fi space film?

It’s a challenging but fun genre. The big thing with indie sci-fi is that you need to pick your battles very wisely. Decide where you need to put your money, and don’t be afraid to take from other departments to make sure that one element of your film is strong. For ALONE, I knew that we couldn’t build our escape pod set without money, so that ended up being the largest line item in our budget by far. After that, I called in a lot of favors so we’d have solid gear to use and reliable crew members. Aside from that, my final advice is to just do it. Go make the movie. Don’t wait to meet your target budget. We raised less than half of what we were hoping to pull together for ALONE. But, at the end of the day, we decided to do the best we could with the money we had. A finished imperfect film is better than an incomplete film that’s perfect in your mind.

What are your favorite short films?

I was fortunate to watch some really fantastic short films during ALONE’s festival circuit and at other festivals I’ve attended for other films. Some that come to mind that I’ve seen over the last couple years are “Georgia,” “For Closure,” “How To End A Conversation,” “Mary Meet Grace,” and “I Lost My Mother’s Ashes.”

Which films you can say directly inspired this film?

This is going to sound pretentious, but I try not to draw inspiration directly from other movies when I’m directing a film. I tried looking solely at the script and story and drawing inspiration from the feelings contained within the source material.