From Canada to Cannes, the Essex film picking up accolades at festivals worldwide


As the pandemic forced the UK into lockdown in March last year, work for Essex business owner Alex Gulland slowed to a complete stop.

Used to producing videos for brands in her career in advertising and marketing, Alex had also recently returned to education, studying to become a counsellor at Southend University.

It was these filmmaking skills and her passion for mental health which led to the creation of 'Lock Four Times.'

With both my companies my work just dried up completely. I think there was a mixture of emotions going on around me. And I thought, if I didn't start recording what was going on around me, I would really look back and regret it. So, I started off on a mission to make something for myself really just to record that period of time because it was an extraordinary period of time that we were going through. And what started as a 10 minute film ended up as a 25 minute film!

Alex Gulland, Filmmaker 'Lock Four Times'

The 25 minute film takes you through the first three months of the first lockdown, as seen through the eyes of four different people.

All four interviewed by Alex, who produced, directed and edited the film herself.

Their stories are punctuated by the Covid-19 headlines of the time.

In many ways the stories of the four involved will resonate with people, but in other ways they are very individual.

One experiencing the loss of an ex partner through suicide, another not being allowed into ante-natal appointments with his wife and another supporting their child through a critical illness.

Alex said, "That's the fascination that people have, what was going on in everybody elses lives. Part of the reason I wanted to make the film, is I wanted people to know that they weren't alone, that other people were going through things as well."

Four people's lives are followed in the film 'Lock Four Times'. Credit: Lock Four Times / Alex Gulland

The film has now been recognised internationally at film festivals worldwide, including the Cannes World Film Festival.

It received Nominee status in the ‘Best Health Film’ category, as well as Semi-Finalist in the ‘Best Short Film’ category.

The success follows a number of accolades where the film was recognised by festivals in Canada, Sweden, Paris, New York and London.

Alex said is overwhelmed at the response to the film.

I felt very proud, but also I felt good that those stories were being told and I also felt proud about the fact that our little part of Essex was being represented in far corners of the world and people were appreciating what we had to say.

Alex Gulland, Filmmaker 'Lock Four Times'

She said, "I expected the film to be selected for some festivals, but it has far exceeded my expectations and seems to have snowballed. It's great that it is far-reaching and has proved to be extremely powerful in the fact that people can identify with the interviewees' experiences."

As well as highlighting the lows and challenges of lockdown, the film does also have a valuable message of hope and optimism.

Showcasing how we pulled together as a community when lockdown first took hold.

As we ease out of our third lockdown, 'Lock Four Times' is an interesting exercise in looking back, and remembering how arresting 'locking down' was to begin with.

The film will be available for the public to view in the Summer.