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You’ll Fall in (Atomic) love With Alumna Imogen McCluskey’s New Short Film

Behind the scenes of ‘Atomic Love’ | Dir. Imogen McCluskey | Photo by Chelsea Thistlewaite

Following on from her 2019 micro-budget debut feature – audience favourite Suburban Wildlife, 2017 Bachelor of Arts (Screen) graduate Imogen McCluskey is releasing a brand new short film, Atomic Love.

Written, directed and edited by McCluskey, the short was created with several of her fellow alumni, including cinematographer Lucca Barone-Peters (Bachelor of Arts Screen, 2017), Stuart Melvey, who worked on sound recording mix and design and stills photographer Chelsea Thistlewaite (Advanced Diploma in Script Editing and Development, 2018; Graduate Certificate in Cinematography Fundamentals, 2012).


Cast and crew of ‘Atomic Love’ on set | Dir. Imogen McCluskey | Photo by Chelsea Thistlewaite

Set in 1988, the film follows recently married Dana who helps her eternally-single friend Aleea make a video profile for a dating service ATOMIC LOVE. This provokes a confession which forces them to address the nature of their relationship

“I wanted to make a short film on as little money as possible, and came up with the idea for ‘Atomic Love’ when I was swiping through a dating app one night. I was struck by how sanitised it was, especially after seeing those schlocky 80’s dating videos of awkward men looking for love. We hide so much behind our curated profiles, so ‘Atomic Love’ is a deep dive behind that, to unlock how we really feel, and who we truly love.”

- Imogen McCluskey

Still from ‘Atomic Love’ | Dir. Imogen McCluskey

To get the retro-feel of the late-80s, the film was shot in a single take on a Digital 8 camcorder.

“I'm a big believer that shorts should be more about the idea and execution than having a flashy camera and grip department, particularly as there are fewer and fewer opportunities to fund short films through grants. So Lucca and I bought a Digital 8 camcorder, and set the film in the late 80s to make this feel authentic to the period.”

“I wanted to play with the audience’s role as viewer, moving from a direct address inviting us to watch, to a private confession we feel uncomfortable to watch. Falling in love means you're at your most vulnerable, and ‘Atomic Love’ lays it all out in the open! Playing with that progression from viewer to voyeur was really important for me, and took coordinating the language of the camera zooms and focus, as well as the actors performances and blocking. Hopefully, it looks easy, but it was deceptively difficult.”

This isn’t the first time McCluskey and Barone-Peters two have worked together, having previously collaborated on Suburban Wildlife, which premiered at Cinequest Festival in San Jose, California and had a hometown debut at Sydney Film Festival, where it ranked in the Audience Awards. Actors, Priscilla Doueihy and Madeleine McWilliam who starred in the feature also rejoin McCluskey as the cast of the new short film.

McCluskey and Barone-Peters continue to collaborate, working on projects for Barone-Peters’ production company Fat Salmon, which is co-run with fellow 2017 BA alumna China White.

The short was selected to have its world premiere at BFI Flare LGBTIQ+ Festival in London in March, however the festival has been cancelled due to COVID-19 health and safety measures.

While a premiere date is TBC, you can check out the trailer and find out more about the film here.


Writer/Director/Editor: Imogen McCluskey (Bachelor of Arts: Screen 2017)
Cinematographer: Lucca Barone-Peters (Bachelor of Arts: Screen, 2017)
Producer: Yingna Lu
Costume/Production Design: Amber Theron
HMU: Bianca Valentina
Sound Recording Mix and Design by Stuart Melvey (Master of Arts Screen, 2018)
Stills: Chelsea Thistlewaite (Advanced Diploma in Script Editing and Development, 2018; Graduate Certificate in Cinematography Fundamentals, 2012)