In the wake of a traumatic incident, Olive and Jonny must grapple with what they have done. And what they have lost

Brace yourselves for an incredibly tense 13 minute haul. ‘The Announcement’ is a one-shot short film by Zack Bernbaum that takes us through the aftermath of a traumatic event. As we roam through the house we are introduced to characters in different segments as a story subtly unfolds. We are drawn into subtle hints that give the story a sense of direction, but is never fully spelled out. That’s up to the viewer to figure out.

The Vision Behind The Announcement

I was fortunate that my latest feature film, The Dancing Dogs of Dombrova, won a number of festival awards that came with prize money and equipment rental grants. I wanted to create something that I had never done before, provides a challenge, and that tells a uniquely visual story, and the idea for The Announcement came to me one night as I was falling asleep (as the best ideas tend to).

The story of two people dealing with the aftermath of a traumatic incident while we move back and forth between them, each time revealing new, and recontextualizing old information, resonated with me. I find it fascinating how information is perceived, as audiences will often read into moments or characters in a way that filmmakers didn’t intend (which isn’t a negative). With this film, I wanted to lean into that motif and play with perception – how we as an audience form these immediate, and often incorrect, assumptions about characters and situations. What your first impression is may not be the truth.

In terms of creating something challenging, I imposed a couple limitations. It needed to be constructed in one long shot and that there couldn’t be any dialogue.

One shot films are definitely a huge undertaking. It takes lots of designing, planning and rehearsals to get things right – and also lots of takes. But one thing is for sure, such an ambitious endeavour would not be possible without a visionary director. And of course, an incredibly talented crew that can help bring that vision to life. The Announcement sets a high level example in most of its departments, like directing, photography, set design and composing. Not to mention the superb performances by the two leads. Something Zack is all too grateful about.

An emotionally and physically demanding film

I was so lucky with the team that came on board. The writer, RJ Lackie, brought so much nuance and sophistication to the script. Production designer, Daniela Trivizon, and her team designed an entire house that actually tells the story through the set decoration and props – placing clues to guide the audience. Director of photography, Stephen Chandler Whitehead, crafted an oppressive sense of dread with his lighting, while making each room of the house feel distinct. Composer, Erica Procunier, connected it all together with her outstanding score that is evocative and unsettling. And finally, the performances of Carolina Bartczak and Alex Mallari Jr. cannot go unpraised. This is an emotionally and physically demanding film, and they imbued their characters with intensity and vulnerability. I am truly grateful for the immense talent of the entire cast and crew.

The Announcement is constructed to allow for exploration. So I hope that it not only provides audiences a visceral experience, but makes them want to revisit the film to further explore the story and characters, and put all of puzzle pieces together.