Its weird, for a lack of better words. Proximity’s plot is strange (maybe not a better word but a different one). At least, at first, but isn’t that normal with anything new and different?
The 7-minute short film leaves you wanting more. What is going to happen next? One is left thinking after Mae Axton (Brittney Rae) and Tommy Durden (Ricky Herrera) hail a cab and drive off.Axton works reception, and Durden is a bellboy at the same hotel.
Written, directed and starred by Brittney Rae, POP Style TV got an exclusive interview with the actress at a private cast and press screening in midtown.”I was the most vulnerable at that point,” Rae says about making the film. “But I think it is really important to be vulnerable and take risks like that.” She previously came out with Kin, a short about a young girl who copes with the loss of her father by starting a romantic relationship with her cousin.
“If there was no Kin, there would be no Proximity. Proximity is more of my actual personality in my everyday life, and it is more lighthearted and quirky and real. Kin was more about what goes on inside a young girl’s mind when she is going through things – and darkness, and what is inside. Proximity is like, okay, we are going to touch upon what is inside, but we are going to be in this world, too.”
That world Rae references is reminiscent of The Grand Budapest Hotel type of vibe. The characters are introduced interacting while on duty, Axton already giving hints of the weirdness to ensue. “The whole story or just the interesting part?” She asks Durden. “She [Mom] dressed us up as cats and Swedish Fish when we would behave. She kicked me out when I was eleven because she got a boyfriend…and I kissed him.”
When asked if that is true, Axton dodges answering by questioning Durden if he finished his duties for the day, to which he confesses still missing room 15. The same room is where they are caught, presumably, post-intercourse by the manager and fired (but not before Durden vomits). And, the love story begins.
Rae explains that the setting and plot was inspired by Elvis Presley’s Heartbreak Hotel, written by, you guessed it, the real life Mae Axton and Tommy Durden. “The song is about a man who jumped outside a hotel window and left a note behind: I walk a lonely street. I read that and got inspired and started getting ideas for set designs and dialogue. I put a lot of myself into it, and, well, some weird cat stuff, and that is kind of where it all started.” Rae had a specific vision for this film, involving not just the weird cat stuff but a unibrow. Herrera and her actually met years back on a set in Miami. When reflecting on how Herrera joined the cast, she emphasizes, “It was only going to happen if he was going to let me put a unibrow on him.” Herrera being a rockstar and a professional actually wore the faux brow for three days without taking it off.
What makes Proximity most intriguing is not just the plot and characters but the camera work. It is confrontational and uncomfortable, and there is a lot of focus to details and the characters themselves, such as zoom-ins of Axton biting off a piece of licorice or Durden’s intense staring. Rae’s exceptional talent as a writer and director is rare for such a young age. Her style is refreshing and original. Both her films have Brittney Rae was here branded on them. As an actress, she delivers a captivating performance in portraying a girl who is impossible to read. Besides Mae’s oral fixation (constantly chewing on licorice or chain smoking), there is a alluring unpredictability to her. One can only assume she has gone through stuff. “She [Axton] is a representation how childhood can really affect you as an adult. It is something that is important to recognize. Both films I have written have females with strong sexual presences, which I think it is very important to showcase.”
An advocate for women empowerment in the entertainment industry, her biggest advice to aspiring female actresses and filmmakers would be to just go out and do it. “Once you understand and believe you can do anything you want, you will actually be able to do whatever you want.””And, do not be afraid to use social media to connect. Take advantage of it. I am very good at networking with my thumbs.”