By Lynette Rice
July 24, 2020 at 06:52 PM EDT
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Sheltering at home can be a horrifying ordeal, so actors Amy Acker (Suits, Angel) and her husband James Carpinello (The Blacklist, The Enemy Within) decided to capture the sentiment on video. Over a two-week period during the pandemic, the Los Angeles-based couple made a short film about a woman who begins to question her husband's threats about remaining inside. But why? Is there really a mysterious threat waiting outside their door? Or is he simply holding her prisoner?

The result is Outside, a 14-minute film that not only stars Acker and Carpinello but was written, filmed, and produced by the couple with zero budget and using only an iPhone (and an old one at that). "We were constantly afraid," Acker tells EW. "This is James' 7-year-old, maybe 8-year old iPhone. We were like, 'This is going to blow up your phone...' There was so much content."

Carpinello adds, "With the kids in Zoom school, we were like, 'We need to do something,' And I think we were driven by the fact that, 'Oh, this sheltering at home is going to be over in a few weeks, so we should really work to get it finished.'"

That didn't happen, of course, but it did give them more time to perfect their little thriller. The couple leaned on friend/editor Tommy Aagaard, while pal Justin Stanley provided a tense score for their fight scenes. (Yep, Acker really throws her husband down the stairs). They also got help from sound designer Jack Whittaker and sound mixer Lucas Miller.

"The real gift of all is that we do have friends and so many people who are creative and wanting to do things during this time when everything's been slow," says Acker. "We felt guilty asking people, but then everyone who we talked to about it was so excited."

Lorenzo Bevilaqua/ABC via Getty Images

In addition to giving EW the exclusive first look, the couple — who married in 2003 but didn't work together until the 2014 movie Let's Kill Ward's Wife with Scott Foley — is now considering whether or not to take their quarantine creation on the festival circuit.

"We're always saying we're going to do something together, and there's a million and one reasons why we don't," says Carpinello. "Life sort of takes over. This was really a moment when life had literally slowed down. We actually had the time. So it was like, 'Let's do it.'"

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