Private Project

Outside In

A city of eight million crushed by a pandemic finds hope in an immigrant family’s perspective during the worst of the COVID shutdown.
An immigrant recounts how he and his family survived during NYC’s historic pandemic shutdown during the spring of 2020 when 8 + million people disappeared from its streets. A personal diary of a unique and eerily empty & haunting metropolis captured while running through city streets, embalmed in a state of suspended animation.

Winner of 10 film festival awards, this short documentary captures the surreal experience of a teeming city laid bare and the hope for its future.

  • Mark O'Toole
    Dancing on the Face of the Moon, So What's in Jericho?, Way Out
  • Mark O'Toole
  • Wang Ping
    Award winning Poet and author of My Name Is Immigrant, poetry, Hanging Loose Press, 2020
  • Mark O'Toole
    Dancing on the Face of the Moon, Way Out
  • Mark Byrne
    Key Cast
    Credits include the recent BBC show seen on Starz The Dublin Murders, he will be seen in 2021 in Red Election starring James D’Arcy and When We Were Men a gender fluid love story in which he plays a priest with a secret. Past productions have brought him to the Manitoba Theatre Centre in The Tempest, The LA premiere of Howie the Rookie an Irish street fight odyssey and many other productions .
  • Sachidanand Sankaranarayanan
    Music Composer
  • Ari Mintz
    Mask Photography
  • Stacy Igel
    Facemask Design
    Founder, Boy Meets Girl
  • Project Type:
    Documentary, Short
  • Runtime:
    19 minutes 11 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    November 4, 2021
  • Production Budget:
    6,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
  • Country of Filming:
    Ireland, United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • New York International Film Awards

    May 16, 2022
    Winner Best Documentary Short
  • San Francisco Frozen Film Festival
    San Francisco
    United States
    July 15, 2022
    Winner - Best Short Documentary
  • Bridgeport Film Festival
    Bridgeport, CT
    United States
    July 22, 2022
    WINNER BEST DIRECTOR (DOCUMENTARY), Winner Best Audience Award
  • International Documentary Film Festival
    Los Angeles
    United States
    July 27, 2023
  • New York State International Film Awards
    United States
    September 24, 2022
    Winner Best Documentary
  • The Cutting Room International Shorts Festival
    New York City
    United States
    January 30, 2023
    Winner Best Documentary
  • Nassau Film Festival - Winner
    United States
    May 21, 2023
    Best of Fest
  • 10th Delhi Shorts International Film Festival
    Winner Best Short Documentary & Winner BEST MUSIC
  • Alternative Film Festival
    Winner - Best Documentary (Short)
  • Roma Short Film Festival

    June 24, 2022
    Finalist Best Documentary
  • Love & Hope International Film Festival
    September 8, 2022
    Spanish Premiere
    Nominated for Best Documentary Short
  • Tokyo International Short Film Festival

  • Anatolia International Film Festival
    Finalist Best Documentary Short
  • South American Awards
    Sao Paolo
    Nominated Best Sound Design
  • Prague International Indie Film Festival
    Official Selection
  • Chicago Irish Film Festival
    United States
    March 4, 2022
    Official Selection
  • New York State International Film Festival
    United States
    September 24, 2022
    Nominated for Best Documentary
  • Stockholm Film & Television Festival
    March 12, 2022
  • Corti in Cortile, il cinema in breve
    August 15, 2021
  • Goldenbridge Istanbul Short Film Festival
    January 30, 2022
    Official Selection
  • The North Film Festival
    February 24, 2022
    Official Selection
  • ONYKO Film Awards
    October 29, 2021
    Official Selection
  • Cooper Awards
    Official Selection
  • Swedish International Film Festival - Nominated
    March 22, 2022
    Official Selection - Nominated
  • Madrid Indie Film Festival
    Official Selection
  • Chain Film Festival
    New York
    United States
    August 12, 2023
Distribution Information
  • Mark O'Toole
    Sales Agent
    Country: Worldwide
    Rights: All Rights
Director Biography - Mark O'Toole

Mark O’Toole is a NYC based Irish producer, director and writer whose work has aired on CNN, NY1 and RTE Ireland’s national broadcaster, and played at film festivals in Ireland & the USA. He co-directed So What’s in Jericho? one of the first films for festival consideration shot on digital video, a format then in its infancy. His articles have appeared in The Irish Times, New York Daily News, Risk Magazine and frequently quoted in The Wall Street Journal. Mark is the co-founder of award-winning Storm Theatre company and co-founder of indie rock band, Audio Fiction. He has been covering COVID-19 for his blog (his blog is now part of the New York Historical Museum’s first digital collection).

Mark O’Toole got his start working as an assistant director with Oscar winning Director, Neil Jordan (The Crying Game, Interview with a Vampire) on The Miracle. He went on to write & direct a number of short films and commercial/music videos. His short film Dancing on the Face of the Moon, starring Tom Hickey, came third in the Galway Film Festival and aired on RTE television (Ireland).
His work is featured in Amy Rice & Jesse Tyler Ferguson's Broadway Rising, which had its world premiere at The Tribeca Film Festival 2022 and screened nationwide in cinemas across the USA. Broadway Rising is on Amazon Prime. O'Toole has one of the largest private collections of footage of New York City when it was shutdown in 2020.

This is O’Toole’s first festival submission in the short documentary section.

Add Director Biography
Director Statement

Step into a world transformed by unprecedented events, where the bustling heart of New York City stood still, and the resolute spirit of its inhabitants burned brighter than ever. Outside In is a mesmerizing documentary that captures the essence of a metropolis brought to its knees by a global crisis yet emerging with newfound resilience and hope.

At the heart of this film is O'Toole, who embarked on an extraordinary journey to chronicle the unfolding story of New York City during the tumultuous days of the pandemic. What began as a series of short vignettes on YouTube for friends confined indoors, soon blossomed into an awe-inspiring documentary that redefines our understanding of urban life during crisis.

The film grants viewers an intimate vantage point into a city stripped of its vivacious 8 million denizens, its raucous symphony of car horns and vibrant urban clamor silenced. Against the backdrop of a city facing a daily toll of a thousand lives lost to COVID, O'Toole captures the palpable fear that gripped the streets. It's a perspective that few will ever witness, offering a unique window into a city's soul during its most vulnerable hours.

What sets "Outside In" apart is O'Toole's ingenious response to a shattered dream—the cancelled NYC Half Marathon, an event he had trained months for. But rather than succumbing to disappointment, O'Toole's preparation took an extraordinary turn. Armed with his months of training, he laced up his running shoes and embarked on solitary journeys through the city's streets. With every stride, he not only preserved his physical endurance but also captured the city's empty beauty—its grandeur unobscured by the usual throngs of people. These poetic runs, more than just filling the void of the marathon, became a creative act of resilience and reclamation.
O'Toole's lens doesn't merely document desolation; it uncovers the extraordinary resilience and interconnectedness of city dwellers. As the world grappled with a pandemic, racial injustice, and anti-immigrant sentiments, O'Toole's camera navigates the city's pulse, revealing how it stood as a testament to the strength of diversity and unity. His immigrant status adds a personal dimension to the narrative, reminding us that cities are built upon the dreams of those who seek a better life, and that their tenacity is the cornerstone of urban survival.

The journey of creating "Outside In" is as captivating as the film itself. Armed with nothing but a smartphone and a gimbal, O'Toole ventures into the city's emptied streets, capturing a historic moment that feels suspended in time. In the solitude of his runs through Manhattan's vacant avenues, he discovers the city as if it were a museum, a canvas on which the emotions of a generation are painted.

As the New York Historical Museum takes O'Toole's video diaries into their esteemed digital diary collection, it's evident that his work has transcended mere documentation; it has become a testament to the human spirit's unwavering resilience. O'Toole's journey from novice to self-taught filmmaker mirrors the city's transformation—from a state of isolation to a resurgence of creativity and connection.
"Outside In" is more than a documentary; it encapsulates a pivotal moment in history and presents it through the lens of hope, introspection, and unity. As you immerse yourself in this film, be prepared to witness New York City as you've never seen it before—a city that faced adversity head-on, emerged stronger, and forever etched its story into the annals of time.