Max has the most important interview of his life.

Prepare to embark on a thought-provoking journey into the heart of mortality with “Transfer,” a compelling short film co-directed by Sage Mears and Aaron Pagniano. In this cinematic exploration, the boundary between life and death is blurred, and the value of existence is brought into sharp focus. At its core, “Transfer” follows the pivotal interview of Max, an interview that transcends the ordinary, prompting profound questions about the essence of life itself.

Co-directors Sage and Aaron share a fascination with mortality that has been a driving force in their storytelling. This film emerges from a deeply personal connection to the stories of those living with chronic and terminal illnesses, showcasing their resiliency and the choices they face in the precarious balance between life and death. “Transfer” serves as a poignant reminder of the fragility of our existence and the extraordinary courage that emerges when life hangs in the balance.

Through their artistry, Mears and Pagniano invite us to ponder the worth of a life worth living and the remarkable era in which we live, where the line between life and death can be redrawn. “Transfer” is not just a film; it’s a profound exploration of the human condition, challenging us to contemplate our own mortality and the choices we would make when faced with the extraordinary opportunity to grant someone a second chance at life.

Jacqueline Jandrell in

What inspired you to create the short film “Transfer” and explore the theme of mortality?

I’ve always had a bit of a morbid curiosity around death and then in recent years having experienced a good deal of loss myself I’ve really become fixated on how fleeting life and time really are. Then you add in this moral tug of war in that a person’s life is dependent on someone’s death. That notion really fascinated me, not only from a straightforward science perspective but also as an incredibly rich jumping off point for storytelling.

Can you tell us more about the central question you aim to raise in the film: “What is a life worth living?”

When researching people who had received an organ donation, there was very much a recurring theme of “second chances” and “rebirth”. Many celebrate their “new life” birthday and have a very real understanding that without this gift and without science they wouldn’t be here. I can only really understand that in an abstract way, since I’m someone who’s been fortunate in life not to have to confront my own mortality because of illness or physical disablement it’s so easy for me and I think many people to forget what are the truly important things in life: love, connection, adventure. So this idea that some people are living with this daily reminder that their life needs to be worthy of this second chance, this gift from someone’s demise I find so profound and so powerful.

Andy Bean in

Tell us about the setting the film takes place in. How did concept of the space come about?

The setting was a play on a few different themes. Obviously the all white room felt reminiscent of Heaven or Purgatory or our own subconscious, but also of the sterile coldness that is a hospital setting, specifically an operating room . I wanted the setting to make the audience feel untethered, almost like a dream where aspects feel normal and familiar but then certain things are askew and you can’t quite place where you are.

How does “Transfer” explore the idea of giving someone a second chance at life through the transfer of one’s own death? What are the ethical and emotional implications involved?

Obviously with modern science we can achieve “recycling” ourselves through organ donation, but currently we don’t allow a choice for who gets our organs and why. But what if we did? I really liked thinking about this notion that in the not so distant future we would get a say in who gets saved and who doesn’t… that we would almost interview potential recipients like you would for a job and judge and assess the candidate in much the same way.

Bathtub in

What challenges did you face while working on the film, considering the sensitive nature of the topic? How did you navigate those challenges?

The majority of the challenges came from a budget perspective. Because the film is playing on the edges of a sci-fi, surrealism it required a certain aesthetic and vibe that also comes with a higher price tag. Being 100% indie and self-funded, the challenge was truly how do we not sacrifice the look needed for our story without going into debt. We as a team got extremely creative and found ways to visually enhance in a low budget way, like finding locations that provided 2:1 or using water beads instead of fake ice because filling a bathtub with fake ice would be far too expensive and filling a bathtub with real ice would be inhumane to our actress. As far as the sensitive nature of the topic, it wasn’t much of an issue because everyone involved really connected to the topic and wanted to make something that truly asked questions of the audience and that would hopefully move the audience in some way.

What do you hope the audience takes away from watching “Transfer” in terms of their own perspectives on life, mortality, and the choices we make?

My goal with any film project is to make an audience think and feel, whether that’s about their own mortality or a realization about what’s important to them or maybe just “huh, I never thought about being an organ donor.” I’m quite cerebral and so while I like to bring puzzle solving elements into my work I also very much use films to connect to my emotions as a safe haven to feel the sticky, uncomfortable parts that I push away in my daily life.

What were you looking for in the opposing characters? And how did you cast for them?

So actually what we were originally looking for and what we cast were not one in the same. We initially conceptualized the Max character as a guy you’d be disappointed with to have shown up on your date. A bit from a looks perspective but also just general demeanor and vibe. We wanted the character to look and feel uncomfortable in their own skin, to be a bit schlubby and middle aged. But, our initial actor who did possess more of these traits actually had to pull out 36hrs before we started shooting because he booked a much larger project than ours. Oh, the joys of indie filmmaking! So, it was a mad scramble to find someone last minute that we felt was a strong enough actor to play the part. Andy graciously stepped in and I couldn’t have been happier. While looks and vibe wise he was a different choice than what we had conceptualized he was such a strong actor and made such compelling choices. When we got to the editing room we couldn’t stop commenting on the plethora of riches we had with Andy’s performance and how much humor and likeability he had infused into the role. He also was just a dream to work with on every level. If anyone in casting is reading this, hire Andy Bean for everything!

And finally, what are your favorite short films?

So I actually volunteer a bit of my time working as a screener for a pretty well known festival, so I get a chance to watch a lot of shorts! So I will just give some shout outs since I love supporting my fellow filmmakers… One of my favorites is actually on your platform. It’s a short film called “Visitor“. I loved this short called “Little Grey Bubbles“. Then there’s this Japanese short film that moved me to tears called “Homesick (Watch on FS)“. A Sundance film “Sometimes I Think About Dying.” And then my absolute favorite on this list and one that got nominated for an oscar in 2020 is “Nefta Football Club (Watch on FS).” An absolutely perfect short film! But all of these are fantastic and people should seek them out and watch.