“Stop and Go” may be a COVID comedy, but it’s more than timely.
The first feature film from the duo of Whitney Call and Mallory Everton, it’s a triumph of making the most of bare necessities.
The two co-wrote it and co-star. Everton directed with Stephen Meek, who is married to Whitney Call.
The women play sisters Jamie (Whitney) and Blake (Mallory), best friends — as they have been in real life since they were 9 years old.
It’s the early months of the pandemic and they drive from New Mexico to Washington state to rescue their grandmother from her not-safe COVID-hit nursing home.
In real life, the pair’s friendship blossomed in Portland, Ore. They grew up one grade apart and in high school did plays and musicals together.
“We did go to the same college and we both got into the same sketch comedy group on campus,” Everton said. “Then we got the same jobs on the same sketch comedy show.
“We left that show to make a web series, so Whitney and I’ve literally never stopped working together. We really feel very lucky that we’ve been able to rub shoulders this whole time.”
How do two virtual unknowns manage to star, write and direct their movie and get it premiered at one of the premier film fests in the country?
“The last few years,” Call said, “we ended up wearing a lot of hats to make these web series. That was like 20 years of experience packed into these few projects where we realized: We’re going to need to be our own producers. Our own directors. Our own editors. Our own wardrobe specialists.
“It’s a lot to learn. But we have so much of that kind of experience that when the pandemic hit, we were ready to make something — just to stop from going crazy!”
Co-director Meek is also in the film and produced. Everton edited. “And I,” added Call, “did casting, wardrobe and props. We all just did what we could because we knew that no way this film was going to get made unless we wore all those hats.”
It was the first week of July 2020 that they fixed on their comical rescue story. Festival exposure is essential for indie pictures and deadlines were in October.
“We had almost no time,” Everton recalled. “We had to write it in two weeks, shoot it in two weeks and get the first cut out in the first two weeks of October.”
Once SXSW said yes, “Stop and Go” became part of film history.