The question: In this time of coronavirus, when creativity is under forced constraint because of social distancing and other restrictions, how can you take that concept and use it as an advantage, if you must, to make art?
The answer: Make films that reveal slices of life in Miami during quarantine.
Oolite Arts selected 12 Miami filmmakers and gave each $1,000 and two weeks to create works, up to three minutes long, using the limited resources of life amid COVID-19. The result was the Close Quarters Commissions, an online, micro-film festival that will be shown at 7 p.m. July 15.
“We wanted to use film to demonstrate what could be accomplished at this moment with the onset of COVID-19, to say nothing of the protests that followed,” says Jason Fitzroy Jeffers, Oolite’s cinematic arts manager. “We wanted to encourage filmmakers to keep working and help them to continue, even if it meant them creating from the confines of their home.”
After all, he adds, from its inception, the Cinematic Arts Program at Oolite Arts “has been about elevating Miami’s film community by tapping into its resourcefulness.”
Miami documentary filmmaker Christopher Lopez remembers receiving the Oolite Arts email asking if he wanted to be part of Close Quarters. At the time, Lopez says he was still going out and trying to film documentaries. Then he realized, as the quarantine was intensifying, that being out and about filming probably wasn’t going to be sustainable.
“Just before Close Quarters, I was exploring this notion of making movies while at home. It all lined up when Oolite contacted me,” says Lopez, who had been fascinated by the 2018 Sundance winning movie “Searching,” the Aneesh Chaganty thriller that is told entirely on a computer screen.