Basement

A scene from the new short film by local director Steve Cleberg, “In the Basement,” featuring, clockwise from left, Jade Ellis, Keifer Adkins, and Cle- berg. Much of the film’s footage was recorded over videoconferencing technology while people were being asked to quarantine for COVID-19.

Steve Cleberg’s latest short film is a timely one.

The recently-retired director of the theatre and film program at Somerset Community College has writen and shot a number of shorts in recent years, many of which have landed in film festivals throughout the country.

But Cleberg didn’t let retirement — or the threat of COVID-19 — slow him down.

“In the Basement” is Cleberg’s latest work, under the banner of Cleberg Studio.

It’s now available to watch on You- Tube.com after a live premiere view- ing event took place on the website this past Sunday.

The film is based on “The Imaginary Invalid,” a comedy by French playwright Molière from 1673.

Cleberg himself portrays Joe Argan, a hypochondriac who stays quarantined in his basement in an attempt to avoid his problems. His world comes hilariously crashing down around him as he tries to manipulate events from his computer.

Filming took place in the spring and early summer, when people were encouraged to stay at home due to concerns about the COVID-19 virus. Rather than bring actors together in one place and shoot in a traditional way, Cleberg crafted a script where interactions could take place over an online video chat — and could be recorded that way, with actors staying at home and delivering their performances into their phone or computer. Other scenes Cleberg shot with a limited crew in his own facility.

Starring alongside Cleberg were many of his regulars from the SCC stage, including Theresa Kibby, Jade Ellis, McKenzie Clay, Keifer Adkins, Joel Brinson, and Chris Harris.

Amber Frangos, David Daring, and Elliot Cleberg served as members of the crew and editing consultation.

View “In the Basement” online at https://www.youtube.com/ watch?v=9Iqa60LRbck.

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