Indie filmmakers (and Ditmas Park husband and wife duo) Michael DiBiasio and Rebecca De Ornelas have just released their short film, “Multiverse,” which was shot and produced in our neighborhood and marks the launch of their crowdfunding campaign for a feature-length film, “The Videoblogs,” which the two said aims to contribute to “a greater dialogue on issues of mental health and advocating for positive use of technology for personal expression.”
“Multiverse” tells the story of a reclusive young woman who decides to brave a night out on the town in New York City and, Michael and Rebecca said, “is confronted by an increasingly isolating series of strange events.” The film recently screened at the Encore Indie Film Showcase in Portland, Oregon, as part of a kickoff event for early supporters of “The Videoblogs.”
An ambitious two-phased project that attempts to, as Michael and Rebecca point out, bring “more acceptance and awareness to the topic of mental health in contemporary America,” “The Videoblogs” tells the story of Margaret, who has been struggling “for consistency in her day-to-day goal to manage the lingering effects of a tragic past.”
To try to process everything that’s going on in her life, Margaret starts recording private videoblogs to her laptop – which she accidentally leaves behind at a local bar in her Brooklyn neighborhood. Almost immediately after, she’s contacted by Vee, a 19-year-old working her way through college while living at home in Margaret’s neighborhood. While Vee said she didn’t mean to watch all the videos, she “couldn’t stop,” and the two form a friendship “based on the revelation and sharing of some deeply personal feelings.”
After Vee’s discovery of the videos, the women quickly learn how much they have in common – and how they can help one another.
As Michael was deciding to make “Multiverse,” he also had begun his own journey back into online personal writing – and, he said, “the production of that film, in addition to some changes I’ve made in my life in recent years, finally brought me to a place where I realized I could really begin connecting with other people, as myself.”
“Still, sometimes – and I don’t think I’m unique in this as a writer or even as a young American who grow up in a hyper-connected era – I am nonetheless left feeling like it’s easier to express myself and connect, at least initially, online rather than in person,” Michael writes. “I don’t think this is necessarily a bad thing, depending on where we all place our own particular thresholds.”
“I was able to begin really connecting with people, after living too many years bouncing between periods of isolation and abandon, by slowly expressing myself to myself in my personal writing,” the writer and director continues. “Similarly, I feel like ‘Multiverse’ provided a huge boost to my development as a more complete and authentic person. In collaborating with my cast and crew to produce something so deeply personal, I found myself drawn closer to the world.”
With both films, Michael and Rebecca hope to spur more dialogue about social anxiety, depression, and a variety of mental health issues that so many people face but can feel discouraged from talking about. As part of this goal, “The Videoblogs” will not only include the production of the film but will also involve the creation of a user-generated video contest, open to young Americans ages 18 to 24, focused on the performance and production of original and short fiction or non-fiction videoblogs that deal with a difficult subject or a mental health issue. More information can be found here and here.
Additionally, with the campaign for funding “The Videoblogs” now being live, Michael and Rebecca noted that they have incentives for donating that range from the serious (such as you being able to join the jury for the video contest) to the more easy-going (they’ll record a personal videoblog message from their cat and dog for you).
Photos via Michael DiBiasio.