When the virtual world known as SPACES is set to close in thirty days, Syrus 86 must decide how he spends his final days without the friends he’s made along the way.

As we move into the metaverse era, these stories become all the more reality rather than fiction. ‘Spaces’ brings us to that strange realm in the world of virtual connections, told in a rather delicate tone. Directed by Enrico Ferri, we explore the human side of avatars, and the difficulties of saying goodbye, even in the virtual world. We spoke with Enrico who gave us a little more insight on the film.

Can you tell us what inspired you to bring this story to life?

While I was working in New York City as a video editor in 2018, I was commuting back and forth between Toronto and New York quite a bit. The only down time I ever had or felt at peace was in the airport waiting for my plane. I like airports, they have this energy about them that doesn’t exist outside of them. I read a lot of books during that time and was constantly going down these weird YouTube rabbit holes. I came across this section of video’s where it was all about online multimedia platform games. I came across a section of Playstation Home videos that these gamer’s recorded and it was all about their final moments in this virtual world before Sony shut down their servers.

I could relate to those videos because I used to play Playstation Home. I remember that time and what that feeling was like. I was fascinated seeing how these avatars were spending their final moments together and what they were talking about in their final moments. I started to think about this concept of a digital end of day’s scenario and what that would look like if it focused on an individual character’s journey. I wrote the full plot outline in one sitting in a notebook at a bar in Laguardia airport. I then wrote the first draft for the short film in four days the same week. I felt like I really had a lot to say with this concept, so it was really easy to get it done and out there without overthinking how I was writing it or being too critical. I think that’s how you know that you have a good story, you’re actually excited to write it out and get it all on the page to share with people.

With the Meta-Verse being limitless on imagination, what made you keep the worlds realistic in ‘Spaces’?

Harkening back to airports and how they have this different type of energy about them; I kind of wanted Spaces to feel like an airport terminal. Everyone in this world is going somewhere, but in this case they don’t really know where they’re going. They’re just talking with people and making human connections in this virtual world that they are too afraid to engage with in the real world. I wanted it to be about the characters and not so much about over the top visuals that the audience couldn’t relate to.

What was the most challenging scene for you to film?

Probably the scene between Syrus 86 and Kaari 25 at the farm ranch. During the filming of Spaces, I was going through a breakup with a woman with whom I had been in a long-term relationship with. Having to direct that scene was a bit painful because I was directing these two actors on how to break up with each other when I couldn’t even properly do that in my own life. It was a bit too much reality for one day for a moment that should have been spent escaping reality.

What has this film taught you about filmmaking?

Trust your instincts. Always. Especially when you’re putting your own money into your films. There are going to be times when you think it isn’t worth it or that you’re going crazy. Most of these moments you’ll probably go through them on your own without ever discussing them with anyone else, but it’s important to remind yourself why you thought the film or story was a good idea in the first place. You’re doing it because you’re an artist and a storyteller. That’s who you are. Make the film for yourself selfishly at first, then let it go. It’s not yours after it’s done. Most importantly, get that script or film done once you start it! Don’t just talk about getting it done.

What are your favorite films?

American new wave stuff from the 60s and 70s. Films like Papillon, Midnight Cowboy, Rosemary’s Baby, The Rain People, Taxi Driver. Something really cool was happening during that time in how Americans were approaching cinema. It also had a lot to do with the enormous amount of young talent that had something new to offer to audiences. I find that period of cinema fascinating personally.

What are your favorite short films?

I enjoy revisiting short films by established filmmakers from time to time. I really admire “What’s a nice girl like you doing in a place like this?” by Martin Scorsese. Steven Speilberg’s “Amblin“, and Tim Burton’s “Vincent”. I like seeing where those individuals started from and how they evolved in their craft. It’s impressive seeing how these small nuances and style in their short films trickled into their feature filmmaking approach.

Which films can you say directly inspired this film?

I wouldn’t say that there were specific films that influenced Spaces, but rather TV shows like Black Mirror and the old school Twilight Zone episodes from the 60s. Those shows actually scare me. Existential horror shows I guess we could call them? Most of social media frightens me along with most technology and I think with Spaces, I was just trying to reinforce my opinion that most technology and social media is a trap. It can change the human condition and human behavior for the worse sometimes.