A Room Full of Nothing is a narrative feature that follows a 30-something couple who live a fantastical life outside of the social norms of the fast-paced city. Phyllis is an aspiring collage artist whose chief patron is a terse gallery owner while Barry is an actor at a community theatre run by an egotistical and shallow artistic director. Emboldened with the “Keep Austin Weird” mentality, the two embody the eccentric art scene that Austin has become famous for.
Almost simultaneously the two receive scathing criticism of their respective crafts and they sink into a collective depressive slump. Despondent and dejected they retreat from society and in a whiskey-fueled desolation they playfully ask the cosmic universe to rid them of all the unwanted people in the world. The next morning they discover that their “manifestation” has come true and they’re the last two people left in the world. Basking in the freedom of the unburdening of societal obligations they embark on an adventure of playful antics.
Their new found freedom takes a dark turn as they come to terms with the consequences of living without other human connections. With no people there is also no art, no science, and no progress. With this grim prospect their relationship fractures and their strange fantasy worsens. The evidence of the world begins to dissolve and evanesce. Buildings, vehicles, and roads eventually dissipate leaving them to wander an empty forest using only primitive survival techniques. The world becomes a stark desert that the two are forced to wander with nothing to keep them company but their own thoughts until their ultimate demise becomes inevitable.
A Room Full of Nothing is a story of unwavering love in the face of unthinkable trauma. It explores what it means to be human, the strength of love, the nature of existence, and how our individual experiences shape our perception of the world around us. Blending elements of dark comedy, romance, and the supernatural, the story is a bold and unique imagining of the struggling artist’s story.
It’s no coincidence that the story is influenced by a 20th century absurdist novel and a 1st century fable that share a near identical title: Metamorphosis and Metamorphoses respectively. The absurdity of Franz Kafka’s Metamorphosis inspires this story by its embrace of the nonsense and comedy of our internal fears manifesting themselves in our external environment. It is equally inspired by the fable of Baucis and Philemon as told by the Roman poet Ovid. In his epic poem these two lovers are granted eternal companionship when they’re rewarded for their good deeds and transformed by the gods at their collective death into an intertwining pair of trees in a deserted bog.
Blending live action, A Scanner Darkly style animation and cross-genre storytelling, this film is best described as Swiss Army Man meets Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and a love letter to to Austin. Through carefully orchestrated camera movements the story weaves in and out of the supernatural and reality, morphing from a standard view of the main characters’ worlds to one that is turned upside down on its head. Scenes and filmic modalities are stitched together as a collage of sorts and reflect the chaotic journey of the characters themselves.