Doctor Who: Isolation

29th April 2020

One day, I was at Brian’s place, and we talked about making a Doctor Who fan film. It seemed like a great idea, so we got right on it.

Ten years later, “Isolation” was born!

The short delay was due to life stuff, work stuff, family stuff, and ten thousand miles, but one day recently we were chatting about whatever online, and Brian (who sleeps in a screen accurate Tenth Doctor costume) sent me a short video of himself as the Doctor clowning around in front of his incredible Tenth Doctor TARDIS. Furthering the joke, I returned the favour having donned the top half of my cheap and cheerful fifth Doctor costume I had assembled to go with my kid to the Supanova convention in Melbourne each year.

It was at this point we began to seriously return to the idea of making a short fan film together. We were on opposite sides of the world, yeah, but we each had an iPhone, a costume, and a TARDIS, so what was stopping us? Also, there was a global pandemic ravaging the planet so we had a bit of time on our hands. We devised a rough story outline whereby we could both appear on screen talking to each other, and – bingo bongo – we were away! We were actually, finally, going to do this!

And so, one night after work, when I had an hour or so during which I was certain nobody would walk in unexpectedly (ummm … it’s not what it looks like?), I replicated a professional movie production in my living room. I scribbled my lines down on paper with a black texta and blu-tacked them to a ladder, blu-tacked my iPhone to the same ladder, set that ladder up in front of my BARDIS, put on the costume and started saying my words!

Just like the professionals do. It took me about forty-five minutes or so to spit out passable, profanity-free versions of each of my lines, then I sent them to Brian, shrugged, and went and sat down.

After I’d completed my forty-five minutes of questionable half-arsery, Brian immediately spent several days working on his part; which included building a framing system to support only the doors and top signs of his TARDIS, building a hand-held prop from scratch, performing his lines, then spending ten hours editing this thing together, creating visual effects, sound effects, and opening titles.

One morning very soon after that, I woke up in Australia to a message from America. It was a link to our film. I played it. And played it again. And again. It was a joyously light-hearted and fun project, the making of which brightened my life for a few days. It’s only five minutes long, but I’m glad it’s out there. For five minutes, I wasn’t me, in my house, thinking about getting dinner ready and organising stuff to go back to work again. For five minutes … I was The Doctor. And I can be the Doctor again any time I want. All I have to do is press play.

So here it is – Isolation! I hope it lights up even five minutes of your day, like it did mine. The first fan film I was ever in! And, I reckon it’s not too bad. You can trust me. I’m the Doctor.

–Ian Cummins

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