Tami and Dylan Marriott say that their film had competed against 475 entries from around the world to win an award that is a first for South Africa. Hosted in Puerto Rico since 2008, the Enfoque International Film Festival was established with the aim to display films that can change people's lives through cinematography.

The organisers select and exhibit films that 'inspire, educate, transform and inform or have the ability to shift audiences' perspectives on the world'. Entries for this category had have been made in 2020 and be under 30 minutes.

According to writer and director of Alone Tami Marriott, the award-winning film was 'something of a surprise' even for the filmmakers.

"It was never intended to be what it became," says Marriott. "We filmed the bulk of it over a year ago as a passion project to bulk up our individual portfolios. The original script was written about a girl who was trapped indoors and could not go outside because of a zombie apocalypse that had destroyed mankind."

"As busy lives go, after filming it we never got around to editing or recording the voice over. So, it sat on a hard drive gathering dust and guilt because it had not been completed," adds Marriott. 

"Then, COVID-19 hit us and we started conceptualising a story to support those who are alone and taking emotional strain. It was only when I started writing this script that it clicked. Everything about our zombie film worked into our current message and with a few adaptions, we could make it a powerful story," Marriott says.

"It was a group effort through and through. When it was filmed, lockdown wasn't a problem. When it came to editing, it was. One of our editors is in Pretoria, our voice-over artist in Cape Town, our sound designer is on the South Coast and our graphics artist is on the North Coast," Marriott adds.

"We used We-Transfer to send each other edits and files and had Skype calls for direction. Through the Internet, we managed to pool our resources to pull it off," she says. 

According to Marriott, the feedback was astounding after The Edit Room launched Alone across all social media platforms on Tuesday, 28 April. As a result, the filmmakers decided to post the film on Film Freeway, which is a tool for film-makers to get their work submitted into festivals.

"I noticed there was a call for COVID-19 related films and saw the opportunity to spread our message further than just Durban. International film festivals allow you to reach a global audience which is so important, especially in times like this where it can feel like countries are so isolated from each other," Marriott adds.

The Edit Room, which Marriott describes as a junior filmmaker in South Africa, was set up in 2018 by the husband and wife team. The couple had been working as freelancers in the film industry and decided to pool their clients and create a brand.

"The concept behind The Edit Room is that we team up with industry leaders on a project to project basis and work together to pull off high-quality work on a local and international level," says Marriott.

"Dylan is truly the heart of The Edit Room and most of our projects are pulled together by his unique eye and creative technical skill. Alone was written and directed by me with Dylan executive producing," she says.

"We teamed up with good friend and talented filmmaker Lelanie Du Preez and then roped in Devin Carter, who crafted our lighting and Nux Schwartz, who did the sound design," she adds. 

The Marriotts says that this award will open the door to a global market, albeit one that will be impacted by COVID-19.

"It is an interesting time for the film industry. It will need to keep down costs and work with small teams. Luckily for The Edit Room, this has always been us and we are very well practiced at making beautiful work with micro crews," the duo concludes.

During Lockdown, The Edit Room intends to continue filming and spreading the message that is central to Alone: 'Hang in there. Look after yourselves and reach out to others so that they know that they are not alone. Practice kindness and communication and we will get through this.'

For more information, visit www.editroom.co.za. You can also follow The Edit Room on Facebook or on Instagram