Talya Klein: “Collaboration in Isolation is Important and Necessary”

Part of our “Art and Artists are Essential” collection and invitation.

Talya Klein taught THEATRST 275s/AMI 310s: Acting for the Camera this past semester and despite the obstacles, her students produced a stunning original feature film:

“EMERGENCY CONTACTS” was written, directed and acted in our last month of the semester. Each of my 12 students wrote and filmed a scene for themselves and another classmate, using phones, tablets, and computers to record, and then all the pieces were put together, creating a looping, interlocking narrative. This happened across three time zones, six states, and twelve completely separate and diverse home lives.

We created this during the coronavirus crisis, and in a way, it’s about the crisis. It was a big experiment to see if collaboration and filmmaking were possible in times of extreme isolation like this. It is set in the year 2030, during a new, fictional pandemic, but it shares many specific details and exposes many personal concerns and narratives that are happening during this time.

Collaboration in isolation is not only possible, it’s important and necessary to come up with innovative solutions. Making something together can often be more fun and freeing than working on your own masterpiece alone.

We’re proud of our work, it’s relevant, the first project of its kind I’ve seen at Duke or anywhere else, and it’s quite a feat that we could pull it off during unprecedented times.” Talya Klein

Talya Klein is a professor in Theater Studies Department and Duke (Trinity) Alum ’02.

This film was produced by Talya Klein, edited by Jim Haverkamp in the Art of Moving Image Program & Eric Barstow, Media Director at FHI. It was written, directed and acted by the 12 students in my class “Acting for the Camera” (THEATRST 275s/AMI 310s). Their names are Paige Hetley ’20, Jess Beering ’20, Leila Milanfar ’20, Bianca Umeakuana ’20, Valerie Muensterman ’20, Holly Holder ’20, Tenley Seidel ’22, Tess Johnson ’21, Alexandra Hanzlick ’22, Sibora Seranaj ’20, Sophia Roth ’22, and Samantha Streit ’22.