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Interview – Richard Raymond – ‘Souls Of Totality’ – A Short Film


Posted June 22, 2018 by

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Interview – Richard Raymond

British Director Richard Raymond’s ‘Souls of Totality’ was filmed during an actual solar eclipse and is uniquely powerful and intense short film about the sacrifices we make for love. The film stars EMMY winner Tatiana Maslany (Orphan Black, Stronger), Tom Cullen (Knightfall, Downtown Abbey) and after a successful New York premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival has now been selected to play at both the prestigious Palm Springs International ShortFest and Edinburgh International Film Festival.

Lady 18 (Tatiana Maslany) and Guy 3 (Tom Cullen) have a secret. They are members of a cult that believes if they die during a Solar Eclipse their souls will be taken to paradise. But that’s not their secret… They are also profoundly in love.

Director Richard Raymond started his career at Pinewood Studios when he was 15 years old, establishing himself as a regular face there while interning on a variety of movies such as Neil Jordan’s Interview With The Vampire and Luc Besson’s The Fifth Element. Raymond applied what he’d learned at Pinewood to his own films, working with the crews and their equipment on weekends. In 2015 Richard’s debut film Desert Dancer opened the 30th anniversary Santa Barbara International Film Festival and screened at Lincoln Center, the United States Capitol, the United Nations and the Edinburgh International Film Festival, where it was the runner-up for the Audience Award. In addition, Desert Dancer won Best Film Choreography at The Fred and Adele Astaire Awards and was nominated for the Golden Frog at Camerimage.

Souls of Totality contains a five-minute single-take sequence shot during a real solar eclipse, a first in cinema history. This topical film was produced by husband and wife team Richard and Nousha Raymond, and written by the husband and wife team Kate Trefry (Stranger Things) and Ben Bolea. The cinematography was created by Jarin Blaschke (The Witch).

Souls of Totality will play at Edinburgh International Film Festival and Palm Springs ShortFest in June.

Interview - Richard Raymond


To begin with, tell us about your latest film, ‘Souls Of Totality’, what is it about?

Souls of Totality is about the sacrifices we make for love and the intensity of a looming moment that can change everything. As a director I was really interested in capturing a never repeatable, cant turn back event that forces a person to find the most real, honest part of them self to help determine how they will handle it. When you watch the film this is very apparent in the love story and it’s intensity, but it’s also in the making of the film… Souls of Totality was made by couples who are passionately in love! The two lead actors, the director and producer, the two writers, some of the crew and even the investors. Multiple couples in love, working to seize a never repeatable moment and replying on their authentic partnerships to help see it though. I really think this is felt in the movie — this certainly couldn’t have been pulled off by strangers in such a small amount of time.

How did you get involved with the film? Where did the idea come from?

Last year, my better half and I had our first baby. Our nanny was from Oregon in America — and she mentioned to us that in a few months there would be a solar eclipse and we should all go there and campat her family house, where we could view the eclipse right in the path of totality. We told our friends, Kate Trefry and Ben Bolea, (who are writers) and they planned to travel with us and see the eclipse. A week later we had a dinner with two actors, Tatiana Maslany and Tom Cullen — we mentioned the trip and they also wanted to come up. I had an suddenly had an epiphany. Actors, writers and I’m a director…. we should make a movie!  The problem was it was only about 4 weeks to go until the eclipse — we had no script, no money and no equipment or crew — we were at the mercy of a impending deadline set by the universe. It was mission impossible.

Tell us about the cast, who is starring?

Tatiana Maslany and Tom Cullen, who are not just incredible actors but they’re also a real life couple – there’s so much between them that is unspoken — and there’s a comfortability between them, that conveys so much to the audience without words, that you just don’t get on screen with other actors. It’s a real joy to watch them just play and bring a scene to life. One of my concerns in making this was that doomsday cults would seem bizarre to any sane mind. So I wanted the scenes to play out in the vernacular, as though the characters were just ordinary people on an extraordinary last day.  They both shared desire to approach the film in a very authentic and naturalistic manner, within long single takes that would give room for improvisation. I wanted this to feel authentic and unvarnished. For the audience to connect to their humanity… and never question their convictions. I’ve been blessed in my life with their friendship and feel very lucky to have artists in my life, like them, who I can collaborate with on projects such as Souls of Totality.

What are your influences as a filmmaker?

When I was a young kid I snuck into Pinewood Film Studios and eventually found myself on the set of ‘Shadowlands,’ directed by Lord Richard Attenborough. Spending a few days on his set, watching him work, was one of the most incredible experiences of my life. He was so kind and generous and loving to his actors and crew. He created such a safe and collaborative space, where anyone could approach him with a thought or an idea – that’s what influences me… not just the memory of a master at work but how he did it.

What advice would you give any up-and-coming filmmakers, trying to crack the industry?

Look for passion, talented, diverse souls who want to collaborate with you and challenge you. The film industry is a hard nut to crack, but it’s full of beautiful people who all have the same dream. The thing to remember is that this isn’t something anyone can do alone — all this “auteur” crap…. it’s just crap. It’s a team effort. Find your people, become part of something and create stories that you feel are important to tell. That’s all you need to do. Don’t just pick up a camera and shoot something – first find your own unique voice find that story that you’re willing to give everything to… and serve only that.

When & where can we expect to see ‘Souls Of Totality’?

We’ve been on such a blessed journey so far, screening this film at some top film festivals across America (Tribeca, Santa Barbara, Palm Springs) and now finally on home turf at Edinburgh — following which we have a bunch more lined up — check us out on Facebook for regular updates on those. I’m certainly keeping fingers crossed for more in the UK. A lot of people think Souls of Totality is an American film, but it’s actually a British / US co-production. Audiences have really taken to the film and it’s just such a great feeling sharing it with them – wherever it goes in the world.

What is the next step for you? Do you have any other films or projects in production?

Souls of Totality has opened up some amazing doors for me. I’m really excited for what’s going to come next. Watch this space!


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