Let theBUZZ introduce you to Raymond Helkio, a regular contributor to this publication, and an accomplished author and artist. While self-isolating at home with his partner, he chose to create a short video as part of the Quarantine Film Challenge.

“What I am looking for is not out there, it is in me.”
-Helen Keller

I work from home so being in self-isolation shouldn’t feel any different, but it does. It does because every routine I had, has changed. Seemingly mundane things like daily trips to the grocery and vegetable stands have been reduced to strategically planned weekly outings that involve navigating away from other people, a real-life game of Frogger. Many of the outside world things that were part of my routine, some practical and some for distraction, have changed so drastically they are no longer what they once were. And this is the part I wonder about.

I wonder how much of what my personal safety is an illusion sustained by routines? Routines that allow me to live much like a gerbil on a wheel, moving forward, but not really getting anywhere. So I’m left asking the question, is COVID-19 an opportunity to change all this? To permanently slow down the proverbial gerbil wheel or perhaps get off of it altogether. These thoughts that keep looping through my mind like a Mobius strip, my brand new distraction complete with Morrisey himself wailing in the background, “Oh has the world changed or have I changed?” A question which I now understand to be as redundant as it is absurd, and the topic of my short film, Six Feet Away, that features music by my talented partner Stewart Borden playing in reverse over-top timelapse footage of my neighbourhood from atop our house.

Six Feet Away is now screening as part of the Quarantine Film Challenge, an online festival of original short films created in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Filmmakers from around the globe have contributed works that range from the intimately personal to outrageously hysterical but all have been created with social distancing in mind. All films had to be filmed from within the artists home, strictly no outdoor shooting work allowed other than outdoor ambiance shot from a window or balcony

Text from Six Feet Away:

The worst part of being isolated. is being trapped. Inside my head.

An endless loop of incomplete events. Each determined to find resolution where there is none. A gerbil running for its life, forward, but in reality no closer to being outside of the cage. Round and round, but no closer.

But that’s the way it goes. A delicious treat, a swine bathing in a mud mix of past events gone wrong and future conversations where I come up the winner. Every time. So many unresolved thoughts leaving me more exhausted than if I had left the house.

The worst part of self-isolation is knowing that now, I am getting comfortable in this reality. But maybe it’s not too late. Maybe I could leave at any time. Get out of my head. And back into my body.

Six feet away from everyone else.

About the Author

Raymond Helkio is an author, director filmmaker, and graduate of Ontario College of Art & Design. He currently lives in both Toronto and New York. His most recent play, LEDUC, is now available in paperback. www.raymondhelkio.com