The beauty of being able to finally let go is something that Robert has craved for a very long time. Just days after his birthday, he prepares to embrace nothing. For We Are Many is an emotive take on suicide that happens in reverse; beginning with Robert’s inevitable downfall and ending with his happiness. Filmed entirely in one room and based on a short story by director William Becker, this haunting short film was created for Georg Koszulinski’s FST 495: Senior Seminar In Film Production at the University of North Carolina Wilmington.
Beginning as a class project for a senior in college, For We Are Many quickly snowballed in critical recognition, becoming selected for film festivals across the world in places like Rome, Italy; New Orleans, USA; Los Angeles, U.S.A and Sofia, Bulgaria.
Even though it was originally conceptualized as a personal passion project by the director, the crew quickly grew to include director of photography Mark Ray, sound mixer Eriq Dixon, seasoned gaffer Rob Bustard, camera operator Jacob Smith, production assistant Zack Gibbons, as well as boom operators Joey McDevitt & Chris Gold. Zack Taylor, also known as Tee Fitz Right, played the main role- serving as the only on-screen actor in the film. Alongside classical performances of the film’s titles by organist and classical musician Paul McManus, Taylor also provided a score. VFX artist Truman Brothers was contracted for the opening suicide scene.
Despite only having one on-screen actor, the film is notable for featuring a voice cameo by Morgan Routt, best known for the infamous fan-made video for Tool’s The Pot among others, a cameo by the rapper and singer Travis Hill, better known as TRAVISTY, as well as an off-screen starring performance by Lizzy Tart in her debut acting role.
“For me, a film that’s so dark and focused on isolation or alienation, it was important to create a sense of community with the crew, kind of a communion of belonging in the major,” Becker said, “especially because of Covid making it harder for most of us to get out in the world and actually, you know, make films. I wanted to assemble a lot of people with different talents.”
“I was floored by how involved the process was. So much of the on-set production was coordinating how to build the scene’s emotion, and that brought out the talents of everyone involved,” Mark Ray, best known for his short films and contributions to Flicker Film Society, commented.
Midway through principal photography, William’s cousin, Sydney Blair, aged 26, took her own life, granting an even more somber note to the already intense production, which is now dedicated in her memory.
“It was a very therapeutic film for me to make; I can’t even begin to say how personal this idea was for me. If there’s one thing I have in the back of mind after Sydney’s passing, it’s that I needed to make something for the world that makes suicide unromantic and unappealing; it needed to be horrific, scary, and uncomfortable. This isn’t a film that glamorizes depression in the slightest.”
“For We Are Many is unlike any other film I’ve worked on,” Eriq Dixon, the sound mixer for the film, said, “I’m more used to things being funny and lighthearted. But this isn’t that at all. Sure, there were plenty of laughs on set, but that still never managed to take away from how heavy this film truly is. With the sounds of it being right in my ears, I feel like I experienced Zack Taylor’s performance on another level. Literally. Every sigh, every scream, every voice crack sounded so convincing that it almost hurt to listen.”
Jacob Smith spoke about his experience on the set, saying, “I think this is the first time I’ve seen a set that had roaches just because of the set design. We had half-eaten pizza lying everywhere, the director was sleeping on his couch because he’d turned his bedroom into this pizza-porno-druggy-bukkake aftermath and it wasn’t fit for habitation. The director even got pricked by a random needle on the floor. It was a nightmare set. On the first day, the lead tried to go full method and I did everything I could in my limited capacity to snap him out of that and make the mood on set far lighter. If we hadn’t maintained a happy, fun mood on the set, this would’ve been the most grueling and depressing shoot of my life purely due to the subject matter and how that room looked.”