An Interview With Adam Kirkey, Director of the Short Horror Film “Getting Away”
The Canadian filmmaker discusses his latest short horror film starring Monica Zelak, other projects in the making and his work behind the cameras.
In a world of technology, most individuals use it to better their lives and advance our existence; others choose to utilize it for a more sinister agenda. Director Adam Kirkey, owner of Slinger Pictures, works with technology on the daily, whether it be for virtual tours, real estate and other photography, music videos and film, cinematography, visual effects and motion graphics. For someone that spends a hefty amount of time around our modern day, yet futuristic, tools, it is no shock that his latest short film, “Getting Away”, dips into the exploration of what may play out if a person were to use tech for all the wrong reasons.
The short horror film stars talent by the likes of actress and model Monica Zelak, Mathieu Lamarche, Matthew Bell, and voice talent provided by Amanda Boutilier. Written and directed by Kirkey, the short film has been of the Official Selection in some 10 film festivals, received a nomination or semi finalist for best in its genre at four of these festivals and won Best Cinematography at the Cyrus International Film Festival all on a budget of $800.
Getting Away” follows a woman who begins receiving strange messages on her phone from a voyeuristic, unseen attacker. The short runs a total of nine minutes and thirty seconds, had its premiere at the Kingston Film Festival in 2018 and is available to watch on YouTube. Kirkey came up with the idea while working with wireless printers. “I thought of how unnerving it would be if someone started sending threatening messages,” Kirkey explained. “Ultimately, I went with the idea of someone sending voyeur photos and how skin crawling that might be.” The writer and director of “Getting Away” also notes that he had pulled inspiration from the many 1970’s and 80’s slasher films he was watching, hoping to create something with a “retro feel”, a goal that was supported by the score from composer Steph Kowal.
Another challenge Kirkey wanted to tackle was creating a short with no dialogue, and this came following the wrap of his latest feature length film “Sir John A and the Curse of the Anti-Quenched”. “The feature had a lot of talking, and I wanted to see if I could tell a story all through images and sound,” he stated. Originally, the short film was slated to be filmed over the course of two nights, but as things don’t always go as planned, “Getting Away” was filmed over a single, frigid night in October of 2017, with shoots beginning at dark and wrapping up at roughly 5:00 a.m. “That’s the indie film life, though,” he concluded.
Zelak, having worked with Kirkey previously in “Sir John A and the Curse of the Anti-Quenched”, had zero hesitation when he had approached her about the starring role in “Getting Away”. She dove into the project with the mindset of how she might feel if she were in a situation much like the one her role portrayed, while trying to avoid any overused antics commonly observed in horror movie characters. Zelak shares that nearly every scene was completed in one take, with the exception of the second take shots occurring as a result of a need for lighting or camera angle adjustments. For Zelak’s role in “Getting Away”, no dialogue meant having to translate the emotions of her character with only expressions and body language. “It was a lot of fun,” said the actress. “It was nice to not have to memorize any lines.”
As for interesting facts on the short, the filming location was north of Kingston, Ontario, according to Kirkey, and the crew built the props themselves. Following a deal with friends, he was able to rent a RED Epic camera to film the festival acclaimed short with. The meal Zelak prepares in the film was everyone’s dinner that Kirkey had previously cooked off-camera. “It turned out pretty good, too,” he laughed.
Other projects from Kirkey include the horror/comedy feature “Sir John A and the Curse of the Anti-Quenched”, which was the last film John Dunsworth from “Trailer Park Boys” worked on, lending his voice for the role of Sir John A. The film is slated to be on Amazon Prime soon, but currently is available on Vimeo On Demand, Amazon, iTunes, with special edition DVD/Blu-Ray discs featuring behind the scenes material being sold here.
Prior to the pandemic, Kirkey could be found shooting, editing and cooking, specifically bacon, for a revival of Epic Meal Time. The concept, according to Kirkey, was developed as EMT influenced the world to make more “Epic” food, so now they were to go and sample that food. This food review show that Kirkey spent his time on also allowed him to spend an entire day cooking bacon for an hour-long video to a low-fi beat. “Not many people can say they got paid to do something like that. It was a fun show to work on. Harley, Justin, and Darren, the guys at Epic Meal Time, are really fun to work with,” shared Kirkey. “They really give you creative rein to make something fun and creative. Plus, all the food we got to try was great.”
Upcoming work from Slinger Pictures includes another short film that Kirkey currently is completing. This will be a sci-fi/family titled “Home”, which tells the tale of a boy who stumbles upon a robotic alien, helping it rebuild its spaceship to return home.
As for future projects in filmmaking, director of photography is a title Kirkey hopes to have the means to pass the torch on so that he can focus entirely on the making of the film. He has completed the cinematography for nearly all of his own work thus far and has also been the DOP for a movie not amongst his own. “I’m happy with the images I’ve managed to create and capture,” he said. “Being a filmmaker sounds silly to say, but it feels more like a calling. I can’t imagine myself doing anything else.”
As for the visual effects in his films, Kirkey notes that he has done the work himself out of necessity, but someday hopes to have an entire VFX team. “It is nice to know while on set whether or not you can pull off a shot, or if something will or won’t work out,” he added. He uses Adobe After Effects nearly everyday, a program he refers to as “the workhorse of the indie film world”, and utilizes Red Giant’s third-party plug-ins and native plug-ins.
When he’s not wearing nearly every hat throughout the filmmaking process, Kirkey makes a living doing mostly corporate jobs, real estate photography, virtual tours and music videos. The band known as Lions Leading Sheep approached Kirkey with a request for his assistance in making a music video for their hit song “Shapeshifter”. Their request was for the video to be “out there and strange” as well as them not fully wanting to be in it. “They let me be creative and do some odd things,” he said. The filming location was an abandoned chocolate factory, which Kirkey shares added to the creepy vibe the group was going for. While it is nearly impossible for him to pick a favorite project he’s worked on, and as good as the bacon was to eat after filming, he shares that this music video was one of the most fun creative endeavors he’s ventured into.
The advice Kirkey gives to aspiring filmmakers is simple:
“Just do it. Honestly, you can read a handful of books, talk about your great idea, but you just have to jump into the pool and get wet.”
“There’s so much out there in terms of education. Cameras and editing software are all really affordable. Just start making stuff,” he noted. When asked about the Black Magic Pocket Cinema Camera, one of the most heavily used cameras by independent filmmakers and one Kirkey has used in the past, he shares his belief that it’s compact and great to use. While it’s not as small as one would think, especially when adding batteries and follow focus, it holds its own without all the extra gear. “It’s amazing to think how far we’ve come in terms of affordable, accessible camera gear; there really is no excuse not to go shoot your movie these days,” said the director. “At the end of the day, all that apparatus doesn’t make your movie better. All that matters is what’s happening in front of the camera: your story.”