You never know when things are going to start to get real.
In 2014, 28-year-old Brooklyn filmmaker Ace Salisbury – who was born and raised in Chelsea – decided it was time to put aside all his shooting and editing gigs and finally make his passion project.
“Life is short,” says Ace Salisbury, now 30, and the creator and director of EVERYTHING’S OK, “and I realized the only person who was going to hire me as a director—for the kind of stuff I wanted to direct—was me.”
EVERYTHING’S OK is a live-action/animated hybrid, a do it yourself VFX extravaganza, telling the story of a young woman’s search for her father amid the ruins of New York City 10 years after fracking has caused the apocalypse. The 1 percent still rule, and everyone else walks around in an alternate, happy reality, thanks to “Gogol Glass.”
This disillusioned young woman, however, is on a mission, with the help of a sidekick—the reanimated head of Orson Welles. In a modern-era casting move, Salisbury scoured YouTube and found Arkansas comedian Michael Brown delivering a pitch-perfect Welles impression; it was so good he flew him in and put him up for the shoot.
Once he had everything he needed, money saved up, a green screen, an extensive knowledge of Adobe After Effects software, and a style and vision he had been honing since college—a grungy, 90s-inspired bizarre style, and a slightly grotesque sense of humor—he got to work enlisting people to get the job done.
Salisbury started with production design, calling on his longtime childhood friend, Christopher C.J. O’Connell, a talented and industrious artist with a MacGuyver-like ability to turn garbage into intricate miniature sets, complete with lighting plans and breakaway walls for multiple camera setups. Between Salisbury and O’Connell, a style emerged that could be described as “Cardboard Punk.”
Producer Cameron Bossert hopes this phrase will catch on. Bossert, a producer-director Salisbury had known in college, came aboard to help run the set for the two-week shoot that took place in a single tiny room with two lights, a green screen, a rotating line of actors, and a radiator that wouldn’t turn off. After seeing the potential of the show and of Salisbury’s prodigious talents, he agreed to guide the process of completing the show within 365 days start to finish.
“When we finally screened it privately last month, people were like, ‘Wow, you’ve actually made a real thing,’” he says. “It was amazing because besides Chris’ sets, and the score (by 90s rockstar and Pinback frontman Rob Crow), and a sound mix (by Ian Turner), Ace did absolutely everything else. What should have taken a whole team of people was done by one guy in an apartment, running on a treadmill in the morning, and editing, compositing, animating, and coloring into the night. The fact that all eight episodes are done, and look exactly like the original plan, is kind of a miracle.”
Soon off the excitement of having a finished product, the team submitted, and were accepted into the Cannes Film Festival Short Film Corner, where the first episode of the show will be unveiled to the public for the first time.
“I don’t know what to expect,” says Salisbury. “But at the very least it adds to the narrative of our little show that could. Whether we get distribution, or any kind of deal, this is a super exciting way to show people that we’ve made something worth watching.”
Salisbury is the son of Chelsea’s Luke and Barbara Salisbury.