Four of a kind: BIZZAY’s “The Human Condition” explores connected themes through four unique short films

“It’s a reminder that we’re all mortal, and we’re all going to die… So live as if you’re going to die,” Devan Hawkins said about “The Human Condition.”

“The Human Condition” was originally intended to be eight short films, and all of the filming took place in Alaska. Photo credit: Zayn Roohi

Hawkins, a senior studying social work at UAA, recently took part in the student film as an actress portraying the “mystic” character Amara.

“The Human Condition,” created by Anchorage-based film marketing agency, BIZZAY, is a collection of four short films that each encompass similar themes and motifs.

“They all have similar elements in them… This mystic element of people learning lessons, and that’s kind of why it’s called the human condition,” said Hawkins.

poster for "The Human Condition"

“The Human Condition,” which was filmed this summer, will have a free-to-attend premiere on Oct. 25 at the Alaska Experience theater starting at 7 p.m.

Hawkin’s character “Amara,” who appears in a portion of the film called “Memento Mori,” is a guide type figure and the mystical component of the “Memento Mori” section.

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“Memento Mori is a reminder of death,” Hawkins said. “It’s a reminder that you are mortal.”

According to Hawkins, the storyline of “Memento Mori” follows a man who has fallen on difficult times and, in turn, makes the people around him miserable. Hawkins first heard about the project through Facebook groups that source local talent for film projects. After seeing the listing online, Hawkins contacted the production team and arranged an audition.

“The [local] film community is really tight, but it’s also really secluded,” said Hawkins. “Unless you work in film here often, you really don’t know who’s in the business.”

Zayn Roohi, CEO of BIZZAY, first began writing the script for “The Human Condition two years ago.” The film was originally intended to be a collection of eight short films all shot within eight months, but it changed over the course of concept to realization and resulted in the four short films that now make up the film.

At only 22 years old, Roohi is already an Emmy-nominated director for work on BIZZAY’s 2017 documentary Akeela, which focuses on the work of Akeela, INC., an Alaskan health care provider specializing in substance use treatment.

According to Roohi, the team worked on writing “The Human Condition” all of May and June and first began production on June 27. All of the filming took place in Anchorage.

“We really wanted to do something different this time,” Roohi said. “Our past projects, like the film we did, ‘Chance,’ was about homelessness in Alaska, but it wasn’t personally about us. With this film the whole project is about free will, choice and fate… How we treat each other.”

“It became really personal to us,” Roohi also said. “We wrote about a lot of our own experiences metaphorically.”

Norberto De Jesus Jr., who’s currently a UAA student studying philosophy, not only served as a writer and director for “The Human Condition,” but also composed the accompanying music and put together the score.

“I composed four songs,” De Jesus Jr. said. “It was quite the task.”

The process of scoring scenes entailed watching rough edits of the film repeatedly.

“The idea with film scoring is not to score the scenario… but to score the emotions that the main actor is feelling,” De Jesus Jr. said. “To do that you really have to get in character and transcribe that into music.”

Cast and Crew of “The Human Condition” image courtesy of Zayn Roohi

For Hawkins, working on the project with the BIZZAY team was enjoyable.

“The thing I love about [the team] is that they’re so young and so professional… They built this entire thing from the ground up, and Zayn and Noberoto are now Emmy-nominated directors,” said Hawkins.

You can find BIZZAY on Instagram @bizzymedia and on Facebook @bizzay2.

The premiere for “The Human Condition” is on Oct. 25th at 7 p.m. at the Alaska Experience Theater. While the event is free to attend, there is limited seating, which will be operating on a first-come, first-served basis.