When I Break is a short film written and directed by University of Waterloo engineering alumnus Vyom Malhotra. Malhotra started making films as a student at UW where he met most of his team, including the lead actor of When I Break, Siddharth Kumar, another UW engineering alumnus. This is their second short film together after their debut, Exam Day.
When I Break is about a man who feels stuck with where he is in life, and reaches a point where he breaks and decides to go out into the woods, away from everything. The film does a remarkable job of exploring the human need for escape. Kumar’s performance as the protagonist, Neel, a man in need of clarity, was bold and authentic; his character was one many audience members will be able to connect with. The supporting cast gave memorable performances as well.
When I Break was a personal project for Malhotra. “ When I was writing it, I often found myself fantasizing about doing something like that. Going away from everything [and] everyone and living out in the woods. You know, living a simple kind of life. So that’s kind of where the story came from,” he said.
While this is a film that many will be able to relate to, it is mainly aimed at young people who are still trying to figure life out. “[The] audience is mostly younger men who find themselves in that position where things aren’t making sense or they’re going through some sort of internal turmoil,” Malhotra said.
Filmmaking, which started as something he just wanted to do for fun, has now become Malhotra’s full-time pursuit. “We were just a bunch of students running around with a camera trying to shoot something,” Malhotra said about his first short film, Exam Day. “But since I made that one, I really reevaluated the place that filmmaking holds in my life. And I realized it’s probably one of the most important things to me, if not the most important.” Since graduating in 2021, he has been working on writing and making films full time.
When I Break premiered for a limited audience at Princess Cinemas Waterloo on Feb. 6 and will have an online global premiere on Feb. 12. Those interested can register for the online premiere, which will be followed by a live Q&A with the cast and crew, on Eventbrite.
The next step for the team is to submit the film to some carefully selected film festivals. Malhotra admitted that they have taken an unconventional approach here. “With most short films the approach they take is they go to festivals first and they wait till they get a response back from them, which can take a year. The whole process can take two years as well and then they release their film wherever they want to release it. They either find a distributor who will distribute the film for them or they release it themselves somewhere online,” he explained.
“The reason they do that is because a lot of film festivals will not accept entries that have already premiered somewhere, but our approach is different. Our main objective is not film festivals or to get laurels. Our main objective is to get it out there in front of as many people as possible and film festivals for us are secondary,” he continued.
The team will also be sharing behind-the-scenes content and artwork on their official Instagram @whenibreakfilm. Overall, this movie is a must-watch for anyone who has ever wanted an escape or has faced doubts about where they are in life.