“Death and Silence” is more than just a film

The LMC Drama Department project represents the hard work and resilience of a community during COVID-19.

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Photo by Cara Reiber

Makeup artist and actor Nyla Rahimi applies zombie makeup during the filming of “Death and Silence,” at LMC on Sunday, Sept. 26.

Cara Rieber, Staff Writer

Three full days of shooting, from sunup to sundown. No extra days to re-shoot. Everything has to be perfect. 

This was the experience of the Los Medanos College Drama Department Sept. 24-26 as they shot “Death and Silence,” a film set in the zombie apocalypse. This effort and commitment to the art of theater has always been present within the LMC Drama Department — and is now more than ever. 

Many industries suffered during COVID-19, but performing arts took a bigger blow than most. During the pandemic, there was no way for performers to put on live shows, which crippled the industry. 

The story is about keeping your humanity in a time when it’s really hard to keep your humanity… I still think that lesson and that idea is really relevant because there’s so much going on in our world and the people who continue to show kindness and continue to appreciate the people around them are really inspiring and are the future.”

— Clarissa Camille

The theater industry as a whole had to get creative and figure out how to deliver the theatrical arts to large audiences without the medium of live performance. This was especially true for theater teachers, including the LMC drama department staff. 

To still allow students to perform, the drama department started producing films. LMC does not actually have a film department, but Drama Chair Nick Garcia, who is both directing and editing “Death and Silence,” has begun producing films with the students. This project is the second of these films. The first was “Super Jerks,” which was shot last spring and is still being edited and is due to be released sometime this year. “Death and Silence” will tentatively be available for viewing next year.

It was originally written as a play by LMC alumni Ariel Dunn and was adapted for the screen by Clarissa Camille, who also plays the lead Sonya. 

“Death and Silence” was shot by an independent film crew composed of LMC alumni — which is why the cast and crew were on such a tight schedule. The filming was completed on time and is now in post-production. 

The story follows Sonya, a woman whose life has been devastated by the apocalypse and is just trying to survive. While looking for shelter in her childhood home she meets Edward, who is kind and patient with her, but Sonya does not want to accept his kindness.

“There’s this interesting dynamic because he’s definitely more open and sweet and wanting to be friends with her,” said Camille. “She’s definitely more jaded from the zombie apocalypse and she doesn’t give him much to work with.” 

Camille also explained that the film represents the importance of remaining compassionate in times of difficulty. 

“The story is about keeping your humanity in a time when it’s really hard to keep your humanity,” she said. “And even though we’re not living in a zombie apocalypse I still think that lesson and that idea is really relevant because there’s so much going on in our world and the people who continue to show kindness and continue to appreciate the people around them are really inspiring and are the future.”

Camille’s words also signal a broader message: The world of the performing arts has undergone a massive and oftentimes heartbreaking experience as a result of the pandemic. Yet everyday people like Garcia and the cast and crew strive to do the best with the tools they have. 

“Death and Silence is more than just a zombie apocalypse movie. It represents the triumphant perseverance of the arts at LMC — and everywhere.