LAST CALL (GAVIN MICHAEL BOOTH, 2019)

In a time when we’re increasingly turning to the ease and control of screen-based interactions, LAST CALL is a story of humans showing up for each other.

The film was shot in two simultaneous single takes at different parts of the city and depicted in split-screen. On one side, the camera follows Scott (Daved Wilkins), a deeply tortured man as he drinks and deteriorates in isolation. On the other side, the camera follows Beth (Sarah Booth), a young single mother on her way to a night-time cleaning job. As she pulls in to work after dark, she learns that her son has not returned home from a movie with his friend and it is well past his curfew. The camera lingers on these two individuals as they drift through city streets, hallways, and empty rooms. In a tender moment, Scott decides to call an emergency crisis line for help. A misdial connects him to Beth’s company’s phone. Initially frantic and eager to end the call so that she can focus on locating her son, Beth soon finds that Scott is struggling with a deep-seated pain and that time is of the essence.

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Beth (Sarah Booth) and Scott (Daved Wilkins) in LAST CALL

LAST CALL is a slice-of-life drama with real flesh-and-blood tension. It was filmed with two camera crews following each character in different parts of the same city in real-time while the actors were connected by a phone line. No cuts, no editing tricks – nada. Following suit, the film’s composer, Adrian Ellis, recorded the score in real-time.

Live score recording at the Chrysler Theatre
Composer Adrian Ellis scoring LAST CALL in real-time

Not only was this an ambitious undertaking from a filmmaking perspective, but it is also a unique challenge for the actors. It’s a testament to Booth and Wilkins that they deliver such sensitive and human performances while also operating under the pressure of shooting in real-time, each in one-take and creating a sense of tension while on opposite ends of the city. Booth delivers a deeply affecting, empathetic performance as the hard-luck, deeply loving, spread-too-thin Beth. Wilkins marvels in his performance as a man walking on an edge, weighed down by his pain, self-hatred, and self-medication. Both actors had to take their characters to dark places and did so with grace.

Filming LAST CALL in real-time, one-take
Behind the scenes of LAST CALL

Gavin Michael Booth’s cinema verite approach to a gut-wrenching human experience is imbued with pure hunger and compassion, reminding us of our duty as humans to show up for those who need support. The film handles substance dependence, mental illness, and suicide ideation as real things that any human can experience and that these do not dictate a person’s value. In our over-stimulated world, we could all use a dose of empathy and humanism.

LAST CALL’s Toronto premiere will be taking place at The Royal (608 College St) on Sunday, October 6th at 1:00 p.m. The cast and crew will be in attendance. Read here to learn more. If you can’t make the Toronto premiere, the Montreal premiere is on October 9th at 7:00 p.m. at Cinema du Parc (3575 Av. du Parc).

 

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