A Psychological Sci-Fi Short Dives into the Cosmic Unknown

Filmmaker Zach Zombek explores how humans respond to the undiscovered and unfamiliar in 'Atoms of Uncontrollable Silence.'
August 23, 2016, 8:10pm
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How do we, as humans, respond to change? How do we react when confronted with the unknown? In Atoms of Uncontrollable Silence, the new film from Zach Zombek, two scientists toil away in a small lab.

One of the characters looks up at the sky through a telescope, while the other observes an infected blood sample under a microscope. The filmmaker quickly transitions between shots of microscopic chemical reactions and macroscopic shots of an asteroid cutting through space like a rocketm, a juxtaposition between scales and forms with all too many visual similarities. Amidst their research, the two scientist bear witness to an ‘event,’ the details of which are not entirely clear. We are told in the film’s short description, however, that the scientists witness an “interconnection of separate events that extend beyond their realm of understanding.”

The film pays close attention to the reactions the scientists have to this inconceivable ripple in their understandings. Zombek tells The Creators Project that he and the production team at Convolv shot the whole thing within a 12-hour window on a 250 sq ft set they built inside the director’s own bedroom. The film was shot entirely on a shoulder mounted Panasonic GH4.

Because the room was so small, the crew had to find different forms of ‘practical’ light to create a 360-degree field of view. The majority of the lighting in the film comes from things like desk lamps, with the exception of the 60 seconds or so that the set was illuminated by three 650w fresnels that the crew rigged together and panned over the window.

In a conversation with Directors Notes, the Zombek says he originally wanted to use 100% practical effects, meaning all of the visual tricks and illusions would be shot and designed free of digital manipulation. Thus, when the “separate events” occur, Zombek and his team placed a portable massager inside one of the desks in order to shake the props sitting on top of it. During the post production process, however, Zombek found that in using practical visual effects, the film wasn’t reaching its full potential. He went back to the drawing board and began inserting the effects digitally. In addition to directing and editing the film himself, Zombek scored the short as well. According to Directors Notes, at the end of production, Zombek had 12 versions of the score, seven of which are heard in the film. Check out the short below:

Atoms of Uncontrollable Silence from Convolv on Vimeo.

You can check out more films by Zach Zombek and the Convolv team here.

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