Want to get creative with Zoom? These producers directed a film with it

20 May 2020

A still from Devolved. Image: Adam Brennan

Digital media professional Adam Brennan had plans to create a film this year. When plans were scuppered by coronavirus restrictions, he turned to Zoom to get the job done.

With the filming of television shows and movies called off in many regions for the foreseeable future, there are plenty of creative professionals from these industries trying to busy themselves until work resumes.

Faced with the challenges of physical distancing measures, two Irish producers turned to Zoom – the video conferencing platform that has been increasingly used for work meetings, virtual social gatherings and online classes – to direct a short film together.

Monaghan producer Adam Brennan decided that he wanted to use this time to make a film and put out a call for help. He received a response from Dubliner Colin Fleming, who assisted him in directing a short film, called Devolved, via Zoom.


The eight-minute film was shot over seven days in Monaghan, with Fleming calling in from Dublin to direct through Zoom.

The duo said that the film “owes its existence” to the limited amount of filming equipment Brennan had to hand, a leap of faith and the patience of Brennan’s family who had to put up with their home being turned into a film set for a week.

The main character in Devolved is a work-proud customer care representative for a healthcare company.

Describing the film, the producers said: “Adam is a man who defines himself by his work, and the difference he makes in his customers’ lives, to the point where his entire routine revolves around how best to help them when they need. So what happens when a pandemic rolls around and strips him of his sole raison d’etre?”

Commenting on the project, Brennan said: “I knew I wanted to make a film in 2020, but Covid-19 threw a spanner in the works. I’ve always tried to do my best with what’s to hand, so I just asked around to see if anyone else wanted to get involved and thankfully Colin answered the call.

“The virus had the power to prevent us leaving our homes, but not to prevent us creating something we’re both very proud of.”

A collaborative effort

The creators described this as a collaborative project that combined both of their skills. Brennan has experience working in digital media through FKU Productions, which is the company he founded in 2014. The business offers services in videography, graphic design, web design and marketing. Fleming, meanwhile, is the owner of Dublin-based media production agency City Morgue Films.

Fleming said he was “intrigued by the challenges” that come with creating a “narrative-driven and beautifully shot” film during the coronavirus restrictions, as directing through Zoom was at odds with his traditional “hands-on” style.

“Honestly, when I first told friends I was considering this project, with someone I’d never met and whose work I wasn’t that familiar with, they all thought I had lost it,” he added. “Some even reckoned it could spell trouble for my career. But, to be fair, I couldn’t be happier with how it’s all come together.

“It was certainly a whole new experience in trying to juggle and call shots between Zoom and WhatsApp, but that’s what I love about the chaos that is film-making. Problems get presented, and you just have to solve them.”

Kelly Earley was a journalist with Silicon Republic