Even at absolute zero, the lowest temperature possible, nothing has zero energy. In these conditions, particles and fields are in their lowest energy state, with an energy proportional to Planck’s constant.
SHORTLISTED | Quantum Shorts 2020
Ellie is grieving her pet dog’s passing. Unexpectedly, attending a physics lecture on string theory helps her to cope with her grief. Working with plushies, filmmaker Trixie Villareal from the Philippines presents Buddy Interference, a sweet encouragement to keep alive our spirit of discovery.
String theory is one candidate for unifying the theories of quantum physics and gravity. For those who are feeling adventurous, here is a piece on string theory from Scientific American: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/will-string-theory-finally-be-put-to-the-experimental-test/
Please tell us about yourself and the team that made the film.
My name is Trixie Villareal. I love the art of filmmaking, and the impact it can have on people. I have been teaching myself the general production of films by creating them using what I have lying around at home.
How did you come up with the idea for your film?
I had a few days to think about how to approach the criteria when our family dog of 12 years suddenly passed away. I tried to distract myself by watching videos on the internet where I stumbled upon lectures on string theory and I found it to be apropos to my situation in a weird way.
What is the quantum inspiration? What makes you interested in quantum physics?
I have always been interested in physics mostly because it’s math that could be applied to our day-to-day life. I would watch videos of Prof Brian Greene, a theoretical physicist and a string theorist, from time to time. He explains quantum physics in a very interesting and simple manner, which seems impossible since it is such a complicated subject. The quantum inspiration was mostly from the concept of string theory; how strange it would be that we are all made out of the same thing.
Please share with us an interesting detail about how you made the movie.
The characters in the movie are actually real individuals of different personalities. They have been on social media since 2019 as part of the Instagram plushie community. When I discovered this film festival, I thought it was the perfect opportunity to hire Prof Chuck since this field was his expertise.
What was it like filming with the plushies?
They were not very difficult to work with since they seemed to know exactly what I wanted them to do. Although, because I did the filming and ‘puppeting’ myself, it felt like I was playing twister at times. The camera would be between my arms while I move the two characters in each hand. For the zoom lecture, I had a little help from my siblings. I asked them to film all the plushies they owned for a ‘zoom call’, and I just edited them all together to fit in the same frame. I requested that they film in different locations to make it look realistic. My mum was very amused when she saw that part of the film.
What reaction do you hope for from viewers?
My goal is to spark interest in science for the viewers, especially young people because I discovered the world of science quite late in life. I wish I were exposed to it earlier, so I want to try to do that for others. I also think the use of plushies is amusing, so I hope the ones who watch it are tickled to say the least.
What is your favourite science-inspired or sci-fi movie?
Gravity (2013). I loved how everything was connected literally and metaphorically. Moreover, I thought that the science in the film was what drove the impact of what the story wanted to say and inspire.
What does being a Quantum Shorts finalist mean to you?
I feel very honoured to be a part of this film festival. Quantum Shorts blends two of my niche interests – filmmaking and physics. I am ecstatic to be able to share that with people who have the same interests.
Is there anything else you would like to tell us about you or your film?
This is my first ever film to be recognised. It feels surreal to have something crafted and produced at home be seen by people other than my friends and myself. I hope you guys enjoy it as much as I enjoyed making it. And let’s keep our curiosity high; discover!
Trixie Villareal is a physics enthusiast and a self-taught filmmaker from the Philippines.