InterConnected - Watch all Eight Lockdown Stories
At the end of March 2020 life for everyone in the UK and in many other parts of the world, changed drastically. Confronted with a crisis unlike anything experienced before, we at BBC Writersroom thought the only thing we could do was turn to the writers - to make sense of these strange and isolating times, to bring hope, entertainment and escapism back into our lives.
And so InterConnected was born. An initiative open to everyone, from established writers to those who’d never before put pen to paper. The challenge was to create short form dramas between 5-10 minutes in length, about characters in isolation connecting via video conferencing software, so that we could actually make them via video software whilst in isolation ourselves.
The response was remarkable. We received just under 7000 scripts. An unprecedented amount for us, and in such unprecedented times.
Over the last 10 weeks we’ve been furiously reading, sifting, deliberating, script editing, casting, recording and editing all from our own homes. We’re delighted with all 8 films and their breadth of tone, themes and story. The acting talent they’ve attracted is attributable to the strength of the writing.
We hope this series will act as a creative marker, chronicling these strange times we’ve all been living through. But we also hope that they’re just bloody good pieces of drama by brilliant new writers that will make you smile as you watch them - and maybe feel less alone.
Watch them all below and read introductions from their writers:
Watch Party written by Alegría Adedeji and Jeremy Ojo
Party by Alegría Adedeji and Jeremy Ojo
This "slice of life" piece was a chance to highlight how the quotidien could be enlightening and funny, especially when shared from perspectives you don't often recognise. With lockdown and a pandemic added to the mix, this was an exciting opportunity to play to the strengths of everything suddenly not making much sense and how what would have been regular activities, like going out to see a girl, suddenly become jaw-droppingly exciting. Party came as a result of uncertain times: as the two writers, we'd never formally met despite creating a close bond over the period of writing together. But regardless (or because of!) the restraints of lockdown, our first contact was through Twitter and from there, Party, was born.
The big key word for us was authenticity; we wanted our characters to feel as genuine and realistic as possible as though the audience were listening to a real friendship group, something that seemed to have translated well. The process was incredibly enriching and very funny as we worked on Zoom, sharing the screen and firing jokes at one another. The title, Party, comes from the Party chat used by friends as they talk to one another during a video game; it’s a strangely comforting and comfortable space for men to share their experiences and talk openly about day to day stuff without feeling any pressure hence why our characters speak so freely whereas in other formats they may not have been able to.
Watch Solitaire written by Will Sebastian Clempner
Solitaire by Will Sebastian Clempner
Everything is a commodity these days, including people’s loneliness. Lockdown has increased long-standing societal divisions and allowed some to capitalise on the intrinsic value of human connection. Solitaire was written as a study of the morally corrupt versus the morally conscious and, most importantly, a study of how easily the line between the two can be blurred.
Watch Fred Gets Feedback written by Jill Worsley
Fred Gets Feedback by Jill Worsley
Fred Gets Feedback was inspired by a headline about people reconnecting with their exes during lockdown. After I’d clicked on that, Facebook conveniently (creepily) suggested I check out a thread about the most ridiculous reasons for breaking up with someone, and that influenced Act One of the story.
And then somewhere along the way it turned into a rom-com, which is interesting because despite being described as a cynic by most of my friends, it turns out I have a romantic streak. That, or I was feeling the need for hope in a very bleak time.
I think there are a lot of Freds - both male and female - who spend time questioning why they’re single, and assuming there must be something wrong with them. I imagined lockdown would be a time where those thoughts could become overwhelming, and I hope this story will offer a new perspective on that intrusive inner monologue.
Watch A Month of Sundays written by Anna Mawn
A Month of Sundays by Anna Mawn
My Nan always says "that'll never happen in a month of Sundays", and I always thought that sounded so great - chilling at home every day, always having Yorkshire puddings for lunch, no Monday morning to get up for... Then the unimaginable did happen and I was faced with something that looked a bit like a month of Sundays but without the Yorkshire puddings. Wanting to stay creative, and with my final year at drama school on hold, I started to write. The idea for this character-led comedy came to me after trying to hold a weekly online book club that never seemed to go to plan.
Watch Another World written by Lizzie Nunnery
Another World by Lizzie Nunnery
Another World is one of those ideas that's lurked half-formed in the back of my mind for years. For ages, I've toyed with writing a play set in two parallel universes - a naturalistic love story across time and space. And then in the early days of the lockdown, I kept getting stuck on an impossible question: 'Why this? Of all the versions of our world we might have lived in, how did we get here?' So, I started typing and this script came out at speed. The conference call set-up provided a really useful dramatic question: if the call is a room with an open door to any location in the world... who might walk in? What if the life that got away comes staring you in the face?
Watch Commuter Experience written by Munro Gascoigne
Commuter Experience by Munro Gascoigne
Commuter Experience follows a man missing his pre-lockdown life - stress and all. So he employs an online service that allows him to recreate the discomfort of his daily commute, right from the comfort of his own home.
The idea for the film came from me really starting to miss our everyday rituals - the good and the bad. Trapped in your flat all the time, suddenly your nightmare commute can begin to feel like a fond memory. I thought being able to act out those absent rituals could prove to be quite therapeutic, or at very least - funny to witness.
Watch Psychic Overload written by Amna Saleem
Psychic Overload by Amna Saleem
This short was inspired by a very brief conversation I had with my ma, when she was stranded abroad at the beginning of lockdown, where she decided to pass her time asking psychics about my love life.
The brief had very specific requirements so I decided to keep my concept simple yet (hopefully) entertaining. I figured that since this short was being made on video-messaging, it would naturally have certain limitations, so it was my responsibly as a writer to work around those.
I wanted to write something that captured the essence of a family who might be separated but are still very much together no matter the distance between them. A few thousand miles isn’t enough to squash that inner child which returns every time your siblings and parents annoy you. No one knows how to push your buttons like your family.
Watch Salvation Calling written by Sinéad Collopy
Salvation Calling by Sinéad Collopy
*Nominated for Best Lockdown Programme – Comedy, Entertainment & Scripted in the Broadcast Digital Awards 2021*
When I first read the spec' for the BBC Writersroom Interconnected submission I started by simply writing down random words and phrases. I had a page filled with words such as emotional impact, humanity, closeness, connect, human touch, silence. I took each of these words and tried to delve deeper into what happens to the human psyche when we are asked to do something that goes against, what we as a species, are essentially designed to do to ensure our survival. When do we need closeness, connection, human touch most in our lives? The answer came instantly to me.
When the person we love most in the world dies. We turn to our families and communities to wrap their arms around us and help us grieve this monumental loss. This vital part of the grieving process has been denied to families across the world as a result of Covid-19 restrictions and self-isolation. Seamus is a reflection of the thousands of people who are mourning alone.
Whilst Seamus is grieving the physical loss of his wife, the character Elizabeth is grieving her separation from her parents who are on the front line. Both totally alone with no one to talk to, Elizabeth has sought solace in her religion and Seamus has sought solace in trying to keep his wife's memory alive.
Whilst we have been asked to physically stay apart, in reality, more and more of us have been reaching out and coming together via volunteering and the internet. The urge to connect as humans has not gone away, it has simply gone online. Pre-Covid-19, Seamus and Elizabeth would have lived in entirely different social circles given their ages and the communities they come from. Having spent many years travelling to Northern Ireland, the history of Belfast as a divided City along these community lines is one that has always fascinated me.
I wanted to write a story that brought two strangers from these divided communities together where the need for human connection outweighed their differences. They laugh together, cry together, heal together, proving that at the end of the day, through wars and pandemics, our humanity will always be our salvation.