Excelsior #EverUpward is a Moving Love Letter to New Yorkers in Quarantine

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Directors Elle Ginter and Stephania Dulowski created the short in an effort to highlight what New Yorkers miss most at the centre of self-isolation
Excelsior #EverUpward is a Moving Love Letter to New Yorkers in Quarantine

Directed by Elle Ginter and Stephania Dulowski, Excelsior #EverUpward is a three-minute film that is the culmination of numerous sleepless nights spent driving through NYC at the height of the quarantine. The film was created in an effort to positively reflect moving forward and highlight what New Yorkers miss most at the centre of self-isolation. The film encapsulates the themes surrounding their week: “We miss you. We love you. We’re thinking of you,” heard in countless phone calls, Zooms, FaceTimes, and Governor Cuomo’s address to NYC.

Both NYC-based Stephania Dulowski, editor at Exile Edit, and Elle Ginter, represented in the UK by FAMILIA, felt their worlds and schedules abruptly halt in mid-March, along with millions of others in NYC.

Elle explains: “It felt like overnight everything in NYC shut down. I left for a weekend post-shoot, and when I returned on Monday morning, New York was quiet. Stephania and I chose to stay, and as we did a run together every day, found ourselves noticing so many interesting characters — policemen in parks situated in clear tents, or neighbours who actually started speaking to each other. It wasn’t the NYC we knew, and the landscape was changing quickly and drastically.”

Elle and Stephania decided to film every night, driving around an empty Manhattan and shooting on their phones through the window, occasionally getting out and distantly chatting with strangers.

Elle describes: “It was surreal — I have always been inspired by reading about Nicholas Winding Refn and Ryan Gosling’s process pre-Drive. They drove for hours together at night, exploring Ryan’s character and getting into a mindset. We felt the same. We wanted to have a finger on the pulse of NYC and see what came of it. We didn’t necessarily mean to make a film until about halfway in. I mean, we were using our phones.”

“There were a few nights that we felt a communal spirit as we connected with strangers on the streets of NYC and a few really grim, heavy nights. One night in particular, the morgue trucks had just landed at a hospital ten minutes away from me, which we heard in the media that this was happening. But it wasn’t until we saw it in front of us that we suddenly felt the scope of this pandemic was very real,” reflects Stephania. “We’ve included these shots in our film to show the severity of the crisis here. New Yorkers spend most of their time in its streets, and this crisis is happening all over the streets of New York – you can’t ignore it."

For five nights after, NYC’s death toll continued to rise and sirens became 24/7 white noise as Elle and Stephania began to edit and continued filming. It became a pacing mechanism of sorts, especially for Stephania, who would cut remotely for Exile Edit to the sirens most of each day. When it came to designing the sound for the film, Elle and Stephania decided to overlap voice and audio elements, building the same sound bath of sirens it felt as if they were driving through.  

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Director: Elle Ginter & Stephania Dulowski

Shot & Sourced by: Stephani Dulowski & Elle Ginter

Senior Editor: Stephania Dulowski, Exile Edit

Sound Design & Mix: Only Audio / Daniel Lidchi

Genres: People, Dialogue

Categories: Short films, Short Films and Music Videos

FAMILIA, 3 months ago