In a dystopian Miami landscape in the late 60’s, Lucy is trapped in a cult-like pool club

In a dystopian Miami landscape in the late 60’s, Lucy is trapped in a cult-like pool club, an example of a social group reinforcing societal pressures of conformity. In this world, everyone is required to choose a social group to assimilate to at the age of ten, separated by gender and arranged by skin-tone. As a result of an unorthodox family dynamic, Lucy is self-aware and independent at a young age, a trait that carries onto her young adult life. While in shock after discovering her mother’s sudden death, Julian, her estranged friend from a different social group, invites Lucy to a secret gathering of rogue social group members, (each representing a true civil rights activist of the 60’s), who are high in revelry and speak on ideologies rebelling against this American Dream. This complicated friendship tethers back and forth, and these tensions are released in a climax, representing Lucy’s first step towards enlightenment. We learn the next morning that most of the actions are reset by a powerful individual who represents their government, Dr. George Star.

‘Water’ is directed by talented and extremely creative filmmakers Brittney Rae. This is her 3rd short film, after ‘Proximity‘ and ‘Kin‘, both Film Shortage Selections. We had a quick chat with Brittney who gave us a little more insight on her work:

Can you tell me a little bit about ‘Water’, how did this film come about?

WATER is an alternate universe set in 1957-1967 in the US during the civil rights movement. I was listening to the song “lucy in the sky with diamonds” when I was living in New York in 2018 and looked up the origin of the song, which led me through a research rabbit hole about the US during that time, I learned about the Weather Underground; a predominately white activist group who rebelled against the system and conspired to bomb government buildings, claiming to be fighting for the Black Panther party (although some Black Panther members appreciated them to some degree, they also disagreed with their raging behavior.) This was mirrored in 2020 during the BLM movement. The film was in production only months before the murder of George Floyd, the timing was coincidental but felt especially important afterwords.

This is your third short film, all with their own particular colorful style and unique stories. Tell us about your moodboard process before kicking off a film.

We love your use of physical and clumsy comedy in your films, do you have these snippets perfectly planned out or do you leave room for improvisation on set?

Definitely a huge mood board person when creating. I’m extremely color specific and particular when it comes to the aesthetic, many easter eggs in the shots and the meaning of shapes and colors used are 100% intentional. The weird little human moments are written in, Everything is planned out and very little is improvised, (which is funny cause I am known for my silly comedy and improvisational skills when performing.) My process for my directing work has always been completely different then anything else I create and I turn super serious and focused which if you know me, it’s a rare sight to see.

Tell us about the challenge of having the lead role and directing film.

I was not stoked! I did not want to be the lead in this film, we had to go non union last minute because covid tests costs were about the same as the entire budget of the film.

As much as I love performing, I intensively searched for an actress that could do it the exact way I would do it so I could show up to set in sweat pants and eat whatever snacks I wanted and stare at the shots 1 inch away from the monitor w my bag of chips and not have to think about anything else but with the last minute union status change there was no one I could find that was up to my standards for this very specific melancholy dead pan performance I wanted and my producers said if I just did it, it would also save us money so, here we were. My brain was too many places at once, time crunches and all sorts of things probably effected the performance but thankfully my DP Marcello and my producers Pam, Eddie and Frantzy were specifically super attentive when I was on screen and I trusted them with their judgement when the clock was ticking. It’s all about the team.

Also FYI, I hope to never lead in a film that I’m directing again, maybe a lil cameo or small character just for funzies.

Has this film taught you about filmmaking?

It taught me so much. It was in the Sundance short film lab where we got to have multiple advisors at Sundance and incredible award winning Sundance alumni filmmakers guiding any pre production story questions or concerns I had. But the real lessons came from us having a 50 person crew and a 30 something person cast for this project. It was an ambitious film during a difficult time for filmmaking and despite the fires we had to put out constantly, we somehow survived. Final verdict: don’t shoot a 23 page short in 4 days. add more days to shooting. Just get the money, add more days.

Can you tell us a little more about your path into filmmaking?

I got into filmmaking when I was living in new york and I wasn’t booking anything as an actor. I was performing a lot of comedy on stage and I started writing out of probably desperation to create.

What is your next big project?

The feature length to “WATER”, as well as the feature length to my last short (also on Film Shortage!) “Proximity.”

What are your favorite films?

Harold and Maude

What are your favorite short films?

Pick by Alicia K. Harris