Editor’s note: Venue Plus continues “In Case You Didn’t Know,” a weekly feature with fun tidbits about New Mexicans and their projects.
It’s been nearly 20 years since Sam Quinn and Connor McLean met as theater students at the Santa Fe University of Art & Design.
Fifteen years later, they met for coffee in Los Angeles to discuss concepts for a horror film. The result is the short film “Stay Calm,” which will screen at 8:40 p.m. Friday, Oct. 15, as part of the Santa Fe Independent Film Festival.
The filmmakers reunited after overcoming a dark past battling drug addiction and have come out stronger, forging a tight bond.
In their film, all of humanity has been infected with a rage-zombie virus that lies dormant until triggered by adrenaline spikes in its host. A love triangle consisting of a husband and wife and their best friend have escaped the city and taken refuge in an isolated desert home. The trio must control their emotions and most primal instincts to keep from turning into monsters.
“Stay Calm” explores the idea of living a mindful life in a chaotic world. The characters are faced with betrayal, terror, lust and envy, but their survival rests in how they deal with the emotions. They must learn to face every emotion with a deep breath or risk turning into monsters.
“I love that stakes are raised so much,” McLean says. “We worked really well together.”
Quinn says McLean brought the concept to him about adrenaline spikes.
“I thought there had to be some way the characters can combat that,” Quinn says. “I’m into
mindfulness, and that’s one way we can take control over emotions and train our brain to do so. It’s about figuring out how to control your emotions.”
The filmmakers want to take the short film and create a series of films surrounding the universe.
“It’s an idea that can have more than one film,” Quinn says.
While it took more than a decade to reconnect, the filmmakers share some fun facts about the making of “Stay Calm.”