Domain wins Best Feature Audience Award at Other Worlds Austin 2016 where it had its world premiere over the weekend. From the beginning, it is visually interesting even though the entire movie is shot in one location. Utilizing GoPro cameras for the “heads in a box” footage, the filmmakers shot this project in only eighteen days. While remaining under twelve hours per day of shooting, they did at times exceed covering twelve pages of script per day.
Domain takes a different approach to the aftermath of a viral outbreak. Survivors are placed in individual, self-sustaining bunkers to prevent any potential spread of disease. Because human interaction is essential, each bunker has video monitors linked to a small group of other bunkers, allowing residents to have meaningful interactions with each other.
It sounds pretty good in theory, but what if you don’t get along with everyone in your assigned group? What if connecting through only a screen is not enough? What if the bunker has some glitches? What if something mysterious and scary begins to happen? Domain poses these questions and does a remarkable job keeping the story and visuals interesting and dynamic despite the limitations of the set.
All the performances work, and the characters, known only as the cities they’re from, play off each other in interesting ways. I would have liked a little more depth and exploration into some of the secondary characters and maybe a little extra time with them to more fully understand their connections and the group dynamic, but the characters overall were sufficiently complex.
For a lower budgeted movie, Domain really accomplishes a lot. Cinematographer Benjamin Kantor captures some beautiful footage of Lauren Fitzsimmons‘ well-designed set. A combination of wisely chosen edits and dynamic camera movement ensure the film’s pacing would keep audiences from getting bored.
The story garners interest and holds it as events unfold. Part mystery, part science fiction, part commentary on human interaction, Domain intrigues and provokes thought.
After the film, I found myself contemplating whether or not I’d want to live under those conditions or take my chances with a deadly virus. I posed this question to writer/director Nathaniel Atcheson (Herpes Boy) and cast members Britt Lower (Man Seeking Woman), Ryan Merriman (Final Destination 3), and Kevin Sizemore (Woodlawn). Nathaniel chose life in a bunker. The cast took a different approach. Britt claimed, “After this experience, I can’t say I would jump on that.” Ryan added, “I’d probably grab a beer and watch the sunset one last time.” Almost in character, Kevin exclaimed, “I’d be on a motorcycle, no shirt on. Come on baby! Come on! Bring it!”
What would you want to do in this situation? Chew on that for a while, then check back tomorrow for my interview with the movie’s cast and creator.