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CBC News
Posted: August 09, 2021

Now, Now, Now is performed entirely on Zoom and inspired by U.S. political climate

There’s a scene in Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds where a group of schoolchildren sing a nursery rhyme, a song that adds an unsettling atmosphere to the film.

It scared Tom Cavanaugh so much as a kid that he used it to inspire his horror film Now, Now, Now — named for the last three words of the song’s verses.

But Now, Now, Now is also inspired by more modern horrors, said Cavanaugh, the film’s creator and director based in New Jersey.

“The political climate at the time and the fear that I had that things here in the U.S. may wake up and not be the way we’re used to it, that we were losing freedoms and that we may disappear in the middle of the night.”

That fear made for a powerful final product that won Best National Show at the 2021 Pittsburgh Fringe Festival. Now, Now, Now is now making its international premiere at the 15th annual Calgary Fringe Festival.

Sign of the times

In addition to taking inspiration from politically-based fear, Cavanaugh used the technology of the times. Now, Now, Now is filmed entirely on Zoom, with 19 actors. Cavanaugh called it his pandemic passion project.

“It’s not a movie, it’s not a stage show. It’s a combination,” Cavanaugh told The Homestretch on Monday. “It’s almost a living film.”

He has made two other Zoom-filmed projects: a 14 minute comedy and a 90 second short. Using this medium was a product of the onset of the pandemic.

“Here we were locked down and my friends were locked down in L.A. and my friends were locked down New York,” he said. “And I started to watch Zoom workshops. And I’m like, there’s something cinematic here. There’s something more.”

In Now, Now, Now, the characters receive a mysterious message through the Internet, one that’s accompanied by a children’s song and that ends with a series of numbers.

“When you receive it and when you hear it, there’s a chance you’re going to get sucked in and pulled into a trance and eventually be kidnapped by mysterious people in black,” said Cavanaugh.

He said it’s a comment on Donald Trump’s administration and the threat of losing fundamental freedoms.

“We started to see that and it was fast. And so who knows what the future might lie?” he said. “I feel that as an artist, as a writer, you have to take in the sign of the times … and then you have to interpret it through your brain. And this is my interpretation of things that I saw that scared me.”

Now, Now, Now is available until this Sunday. Visit for tickets and more information.