A Review of “Souls of Totality”

A Review of “Souls of Totality”

My name is: Nousha Raymond

My film is called: Souls of Totality.

You can see it: It premiered at Tribeca Film Festival and has since been at festivals around the world. Now, it’s available for free on Vimeo, where we are proud to already have 100k views!

I was inspired to make it when: The film came about in a very organic way: Last summer, there was a lot of excitement about what was dubbed the "Great American Eclipse”—the first total solar eclipse in 100 years visible in America from coast-to-coast. Millions of people from all over the world had booked out every flight and hotel available in or near the path of totality, so we more or less lost hope that we’d get a chance to go and experience it. But then our babysitter, Makenna Tague, mentioned she was from Oregon and that we could camp at her family’s house. We told our writer friends, Kate Trefry and Ben Bolea, and they jumped at the chance to travel with us to see a total eclipse. 

A week later, we had a dinner with two actors, Tatiana Maslany and Tom Cullen, and we mentioned the trip. They also wanted to come! My husband, Rich, suddenly had a creative epiphany: actors, writers, a director, producer—we should make a film! The problem was it was only about four weeks until the eclipse. We had no script, no money and no equipment or crew, and Richard had never shot a film in America before. We were at the mercy of an impending deadline, set by the universe.

So, the next day, Rich and I flew up to Oregon to meet our babysitter’s father, Mike. He drove us around and introduced us to his farmer friends—that’s how we found the main location! The people of central Oregon are some of the most generous I’ve ever been blessed to meet. Their support was essential to making this film come to life. I took photos of the locations, sent them to the writers and, bless their creative wisdom, two weeks before the eclipse, they handed us, Souls of Totality. Then, it was my duty to get money, costumes and cast and crew together in Oregon before the biggest American natural phenomenon in 100 years.

It’s about: The sacrifices we make for love. The story also shows two people abandoning all expectations of love. Love has a funny way of making you not care about the things that otherwise should be important. 

My hope is that viewers will: Experience something they’ve never seen before—a total eclipse while someone is making the biggest decision of her life.

One unique behind-the-scenes detail is: The final solar eclipse sequence is 100% real, no visual effects. It was designed to be as immersive as possible. It wasn’t about looking up and seeing the eclipse—anyone can go on YouTube and do that. We wanted a single, continuous shot that focused on Tatiana Maslany’s character and allowed the audience to feel her desperation. We rehearsed the sequence for four days before the eclipse, using NASA data and GPS coordinates to precisely time the performances to the exact beginning and end of totality. There was only one chance to capture this; there couldn’t be a second take!

When Richard called “Cut!” I remember touching my cheek and tears were streaming down my face—tears of joy for the alchemy and the surreal moment we’d just all been a part of. This was a real family-made film. Among us were six married couples, four sets of siblings and three complete family units, who’d all spent a week sleeping in tents, cooking, cleaning and working 18-hour days together. That eclipse scene summed up what was such a profound and beautiful experience for everyone involved. Something that none of us will ever forget.   

My next film might be: One Thousand Paper Cranes. The true story of Sadako Sasaki, a young girl who developed leukemia from the Hiroshima atomic bomb. My husband will be directing, and I will help produce.  

My favorite film of all time is: Almost Famous.

The title of a film about me would be: Maybe, Be Love.

Discover More:

A Review with Damon Gameau

The Problem with Projecting

A Review of The Healer

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