Quarantine Movie Pick: The Bumbry Encounter

By Sophia Chartrand Sophia Chartrand has been verified by Muck Rack's editorial team
Published on March 31, 2020

“The Bumbry Encounter” is a new short film that centers around both paranormal elements and underlying issues in society. Directed by Jay K. Raja, this film is perfect for quarantine movie marathons and whenever you want to send chills down your spine. 

“The Bumbry Encounter” takes place in the early 1960s, where a mixed-race couple experience a paranormal encounter up in the sky near Mount Shasta, CA. While reporting the encounter to law enforcement, a psychologist comes in to examine the situation, where things take an even darker turn when ulterior motives arise. This film makes you question societal issues, wondering whether or not something is either real or a fabrication. The cast and crew all play fantastic roles of telling a story containing two themes that slowly mend into one. 

Director Jay K. Raja has been a UFO buff ever since he’d read conspiracy books as a child. He says that he’d done multiple science fiction projects in the past, however, he never broached the subject of paranormal encounters. 

“Funnily enough, it started as simply a one-take monologue to be done as a scene study for an actor,” says Raja. “But I had the brilliant idea of showing the abduction in full. And that’s how it ended up growing and growing into a full-on short film,” he says.

Telling A True Story

The true-life story of Betty and Barney Hill, known as the “Hill Incident,” inspired Roth and the crew.

“The Hills were a mixed-race couple that claimed and appeared to be abducted by aliens in 1961, the details of which came out during hypnosis sessions and would go on to set the narrative of UFO encounters for the years to come,” says Raja. “While our film does not follow the actual events, it was a launch point for our tale of a government conspiracy.”

Bringing The Film To Life

The biggest challenge when shooting “The Bumbry Encounter” was not taking anything for granted. There were many aspects, including the setting and theme, that made the film how it is. 

“Production Designer, Micah Embry Wilmott; Art Director, Justin Wilmott; and Set Decorator, Kendra Bradanini designed, built, and dressed an apartment from the ground up, basically constructed wall to wall in a small studio. Every choice had to pass a veracity test for the period, and since it takes place so early in the 60s, we embraced a 50s aesthetic for much of it, down to clothes and hair and make-up. Costume Designer, Ashley Elieff; and Hair/Make-Up Artist, Dalina In did extensive research and camera tests to capture the proper look while also expressing the character qualities through their appearance. Cinematographer, Jerome Stolly worked closely with us to define and create a style that both felt appropriately vintage whilst being careful to shy away from romanticizing the time period. As you can probably tell, every challenge was surmounted by having great talent to face it head-on. Everyone brought their perspective on the story and commitment to hard work which allowed us to feel supported throughout the creative process, even when production days got long and tough,” says Raja.

Roth hopes audiences engage, get a few thrills, and walk away thinking about race relations in the United States. 

“We did our best to embrace the pulpy aspects while giving respect to the serious bits that reflect real life,” Raja says. “There’s an underlying story about the role of authority powers invoking racial conflicts in our country that I hope encourages audiences to question where their personal biases and prejudices may actually come from,” says Raja.

“The Bumbry Encounter” is now streaming via Vimeo. Watch the stunning 15-minute short film here

By Sophia Chartrand Sophia Chartrand has been verified by Muck Rack's editorial team

Journalist verified by Muck Rack verified

Sophia Chartrand is an Events Columnist at Grit Daily.

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