Film festival kicks off this week
Short film "Everything in the End" was made in Iceland
Sure, there have been plenty of movies about the end of the world, but not many made in Iceland.
Known for its otherworldly landscape, from waterfalls to Ice Age remnants of glaciers, volcanoes and geysers, along with its Viking past, Iceland is the setting for the new independent feature “Everything in the End” by director Mylissa Fitzsimmons. The movie will be shown at the Fort Myers Beach International Film Festival Saturday, Sept. 18 at 3 p.m. The film festival opens Tuesday night with nomination announcements at the Beach Theater on Estero Boulevard, with screenings running from Wednesday through Sunday.
This is the first feature film directed by Fitzsimmons, who has a background in making short documentaries, photographing the early 90’s Seattle music scene and working in the art department for the film “Bee Movie.”
Centered on a theme of the last two days of earth, Fitzsimmons said she wanted to make a comment on climate change and the earth’s environmental destruction.
“The film isn’t really about the end of the world but about processing grief and dying,” she said. “We need to rely on human companionship to get through that process.”
Fitzsimmons made “Everything in the End” on what she calls “a micro-string budget” of under $50,000. The film has garnered awards at independent film festivals.
Shot in the autumn of 2019 with a four-person crew, Fitzsimmons used the pandemic months of 2020 to wrap up her post-production work which she called a “little bit of a challenge” by not being able to meet in person with her post-production help.
How did she go across the Atlantic Ocean and make a feature film on less than $50,000? She made “some compromises” on locations and meals and other expenditures.
“It was worth the long hours,” Fitzsimmons said.
“Iceland is gorgeous and beautiful no matter where you are,” she said.
Fitzsimmons discovered the country on a family vacation in 2013. “We really loved it. I fell in love with it,” she said. “I knew I wanted to make a film there.”
The country also has a reputation for volatile weather, which for Fitzsimmons and her cast and crew ended up meaning a lot of unwelcome though not unexpected rain.
“October is a little bit tricky,” Fitzsimmons said. The first couple days of filming, the weather was perfect in the low 70’s with sunshine. “Within two days it turned 19 degrees with torrential rain,” she said. When the cold rain was over at night, the skies would reward her cameras with “lovely greens,” Fitzsimmons said. “It gave us something to look forward to after the rain,” she said.
About 90% of the movie was shot outside. “The people are really kind and caring,” Fitzsimmons said of Iceland. “They are a loving, kind community.”
A self-taught filmmaker who grew up in Utah and Portland making Super 8 films before making her way to Seattle to take photos of bands like Nirvana, Soundgarden, Mudhoney and Pearl jam, Fitzsimmons spent six years working in animation at Dreamworks as an art department coordinator. Since then, she has developed her directing skills with various fellowships including one with HBO.
Animation, she said, is “way more difficult than making a live-action film.” Some animation films need 300 or more people and can take two years to complete, she said.
Fitzsimmons chose lead actor Hugo de Sousa, a native of Portugal, for the role of Paulo after seeing him in another independent movie. Most of the other actors are based in Iceland. The actors spent a lot of time in the rain. Hugo, said Fitzsimmons, “was a real trooper.”
Fitzsimmons has writing credits on eight movies and wrote and directed six of them. he cites “That party that one night” for being her favorite – a 2016 short film based on her personal experience. She also has production credits for most of the movies she has written – with 12 production credits in all.
One of the shorts she directed, the six-minute film “He’s a Good Kid,” will be shown after “Everything in the End” with a group of other shorts starting at 5 p.m. at the Beach Theater. The movie is about a mother who is searching for her child in the aftermath of a school shooting.
Asked to sum up what her feature “Everything in the End” is about, Fitzsimmons quotes one of the lines: “Everything is alright in the end and if it’s not alright it’s not the end.”
The Fort Myers Beach International Film Festival opens Tuesday night with nomination announcements and a networking event at the Beach Theater beginning at 7 p.m. Screenings and meet and greets will run from Wednesday through Sunday, culminating in an awards ceremony Sunday night at the Beach Theater on Estero Boulevard.
For more information about the Fort Myers Beach International Film Festival, including a schedule of the showings, visit https://fmbifilmfest.com/.