Video calls became the new “Want to grab coffee sometime?” to maintain social distancing guidelines and other coronavirus safety precautions that have been in place for the last three months. Amid Minneapolis’ stay-at-home order and the government's call for nationwide social distancing, meeting up with new connections from dating apps is off the table. Zoom is now the go-to alternative for face-to-face meetups.
Zoom dating meets the struggles of a long-distance queer relationship in the short film titled "Zoom: Love on the Fast-Track." University of Minnesota theater major Sabrina Diehl and acting major Reilly Arena directed and starred in their own five-minute, Zoom-recorded short film about finding love during quarantine.
"Zoom: Love on the Fast-Track" depicts a long-distance, long-term, queer relationship throughout the span of five years – all of which takes place over a series of Zoom calls.
“Imagine two queer characters with anxiety disorders who meet on Tinder and begin an intense relationship over Zoom,” Diehl said.
Keeping oneself and others at a safe distance from the possible spread of the coronavirus does not mean starting new relationships has come to a halt. Dating apps, such as Bumble, have taken actions to create a safer way for users to meet up with their new connections by enabling an in-app video chatting feature.
“I’ve had people message me and say, ‘I’ve gone on so many Zoom dates,'" Diehl said. “This [Zoom dating] is a thing, is the reality.”
The two originally created the short for a queer film festival called Dekkoo. This year’s theme is "love and distance."
“I feel the internet gave voice to a lot of stories that in the past may not have been picked up by the film industry,” Diehl said.
Diehl and Arena used their film as a platform to showcase a queer story that may have otherwise never been told. “I speak for all theater artists during the pandemic – we cannot rely on people to help us along with creating art,” Arena said.
Many college graduates are dealing with a less than booming job market, and theater majors are currently living through their industry’s worst-case scenario. Minneapolis’ Guthrie Theater recently chose to postpone its season until March 2021. Theater students such as Diehl and Arena rely on the Guthrie Theater for internship and work opportunities.
The short film is circulating through student theater groups and online queer forums around the country. There are also plans in the works to have the short appear on a virtual Sunday night theater show — which features a compilation of screenplays.
“There is not a theater market to go into,” Arena said. “We are the only people we can rely on to tell these stories and produce new works.”