From Contagion to 28 Days Later to The Last Man on Earth, we’ve seen a wide spectrum of interpretations of a pandemic to watch during the actual pandemic. While the majority of films and TV shows about this subject matter appeal to the horror and shock of the scenario, few of them attempt to speak to the first person experience so many of us have undergone during this once in a millennium occurrence. With The Passion Protocol, British filmmaker Liam Hooper melds entertainment and education in an eerie and sincere manner reminiscent of Black Mirror.
Known for directing Horror films such as Strangers Within (2017) and Darkwood Manor (which includes Twice Oscar Nominated Actor Steve Coogan in its cast), Hooper wields a powerful ability to impart the darker sides of human choices. Regarding how he came to create this film, Hooper divulges, “So, believe it or not, The Passion Protocol was actually written four years ago. It’s been nipped and tucked since but that idea actually preceded the pandemic.
However, there’s no denying the similarities between the two now so, instead I’m embracing the comparison and treating this film almost as a warning message for how we could end up. As an artist, I hope to communicate that there’s always hope in any situation; no matter how bleak it seems at first and that the power of connection with another who’s going through or has been through the same experiences as you can be invaluable. I feel, at its core, it’s examining the relationship between two people going through a world-changing positive experience; encountering another person face-to-face for the first time.”
Without directly sourcing events of present times, The Passion Protocol touches upon so many elements effecting the world. In his presentation of this story, Liam Hooper has created an alternate world which channels the same emotions so many are experiencing these days; most prominently being the isolation that has resulted from a biological attack and the looming overreach of a government. This outer layer of the story slowly sheds to reveal the true intention of The Passion Protocol which is about the need for human connection and what happens when it is absent.
The central character is Hannah (played by Emily Hall) who lives and works in isolation due to the bacterial attack which demands this lifestyle. In order to advance in her career, the government has tasked her with spending an eight-hour window with Coral (played by Elle Chapman). Their time together teaches them about themselves and the power that government has over them…and us all.
Intended as a three-season series, the teaser for The Passion Protocol was shot in June of 2020. The pandemic certainly produced a host of productions about the world undergoing challenges but Liam Hooper has chosen to build a world that hints at Orwell and Hitchcock while existing in a space somewhere between the present and the future. Included among the team are Emmy-nominated DOP Megan Stacey, 1st AD Liz T Miles, DGA, and composer Iain Mahanty (of award-winning UK Rock band Kids In Glass Houses).
Currently in talks with several networks about full production, The Passion Protocol may be available to audiences while the world finds itself in a place not so dissimilar from that of Hannah and Coral. This production represents the best of what we could have hoped for during the pandemic, a story and characters to whom we can relate which has been conceived through minds of grand imagination. Not to be overlooked is the determination and perseverance of Liam Hooper and his cast and crew who took it upon themselves to pursue this endeavor during such a precarious time.
Hooper relates, “Being on set of The Passion Protocol and seeing it come to life was by far the most rewarding experience of the production. Seeing these lines we’d written years prior and the characters finally coming to life was hugely emotionally rewarding and a major creative achievement for me. Seeing the film completed was an incredible success for me too, being able to finally mark it as complete is now allowing myself and Kyran (Kyran Danaher, co-producer) to move to the next stage.”
Writer: Coleman Haan