Exploring new worlds: The story of Adhara, our award-winning short film

Next time you’re outdoors on a warm night this summer, away from the bright city lights, take a look up at the evening sky. What do the stars make you think of? Do you think about the possibilities deep into our solar system, and beyond? Do you think about what could be?

That curiosity—and the possibilities that curiosity can uncover—inspired our short film “Adhara,” winner of a Silver Award at the Independent Short Awards and a finalist for the Indie Short Fest.

c|change believes in the power of curiosity which is one reason why “curiosity” was our word for 2019. To explore our curiosities in a new way, c|change held a short film festival last summer. c|changers were divided into groups with the only instruction being to create something related to curiosity.

One group was curious about how auditory sensations could assist with self-care, and made a video about ASMR (check it out here!). Our group, dubbed The Doodads, initially had difficulty deciding what kind of story we wanted to tell. We discussed documentaries, children’s puppet shows, even a horror movie, before our ideas steered us to sci-fi and “Adhara” (named for one of the brightest stars in the sky, which is part of Canis Major).

Being on a micro-budget, with little past film experience, forced us to be creative with our production methods. Everything was second-hand, and we used the equipment that we already had and already knew how to use: iPhones. We didn’t hide the fact that we used an iPhone for the filming. Instead, we highlight it: we wrote it into the script.

We had one day to film, so prepping was a journey of discovery. From the art, toys, memorabilia, and books to the bedding, we used it all as an opportunity to further the storyline. While we had a script to work from, we wanted to build a world in a clearly visual way, so viewers could turn the volume off and still understand the story.

We all put on new hats to film “Adhara,” but drew on our strengths to collaborate for a smooth and successful shoot. Creative Director and interior design enthusiast Megan Palicki became our Set Designer. Senior Designer Leila Kadri brought her print design skills to Production Design. Senior Account Manager Nikki Lucciano kept us on-schedule and organized as our Production Manager, and Web Developer Cori Dante got to show her enthusiasm for photography as Director of Photography. Adam Tock is a Digital Designer at c|change, but on set he was our Director and did an unbelievable job with special effects and putting our short together as Editor. By day, I’m c|change’s Administrative Assistant, but outside of work I’m an actor, writer, and storyteller; with this project, I was able to bring some of my skills and experience to play Adhara and Adhara’s mom while also trying something a bit different in screenwriting.

Throughout the shoot, we kept joking, “We’ll fix that in post.” A shot was a little shaky: “We’ll fix that in post.” Our coworker’s dog burst into the shot: “We’ll fix that in post.” Though post-production was where some real filmmaking magic happened, thanks to Adam, it’s important to recognize that one of the themes of our movie, climate change, is not something you can “fix in post.” Though Adhara’s journey is brave, it comes out of necessity and leaves behind a sense of loss and longing. In tandem with Clouds of Change, c|change’s climate change-related book and AR experience, we seek to inspire action. New ways are possible. Looking to the sky—and following your curiosity—is one way to start.

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