Big Shorts

Big Shorts - student project

April 8, 2013


I know this is beyond hugely late, but I wanted to post it just in case any of you still have time to give feedback. Here is my draft for Storage

Please let me know what you guys think! 


March 12, 2013: TREATMENT #2


HENRY STEWART (26) lives a solitary and anonymous life in the outskirts of LA, always thinking that tomorrow will be the day that his real life begins. During the week he drives a tow truck and on the weekends, he bids on foreclosed storage units. One rainy Saturday, Henry wins storage unit 1135 at auction, and begins sorting through the junk with a focused intensity. He does not find what he’s looking for.

Just before closing, Henry takes a box of all the personal items from the unit (photos, toys, jewellery) to the office. The OFFICE CLERK jokes that Henry is the only guy to ever buy a unit in order to return things to the owners; but after some searching, Office Clerk informs Henry that there is no contact information for the owner of any kind. Henry leaves, and almost heaves the box into a dumpster but at the last second holds on to it. 

Henry embarks on a quest to find the original owners, using the clues hidden in the personal items: locations in photographs and words written in homemade jewellery. Henry’s persistence pays off when he finally finds the family: a young boy JAKE (6), his mother MOLLY (26) and Molly’s mother PAM (50), all living in a one-bedroom apartment in a seedy neighborhood. This is a family with little money and few possessions but a clear love and loyalty for each other.

But when Molly sees Jake creeping around, trying to figure out how to leave the box without being seen, she yells at him and scares him off.  He goes to a nearby park and tries to set the box on fire. Even that doesn’t work right, the flame won’t catch. Henry swears, choking back sobs. That’s when Jake wanders up, trailing after some older kids, and recognizes the keepsakes in the box.

He walks home, and gestures for Henry to follow. Henry walks the other way, gets behind the wheel of his car and just sits there. Jake stands on the side of the road. Jake and Henry walk in the front door and, stuttering a bit, Henry explains how he just wanted to return their things. Molly invites him in for dinner, and Henry has his first home-cooked meal in ten years. 



March 12, 2013: TREATMENT #1

Jam Slam: A Musical 

In a world where the most important social currency is music and a quality karaoke performance can get you elected president, the incumbent political party (Indie Rock Gods) have reigned for the past 50 years, creating a city culture that is intense and artful and slavish to “serious” music. It’s hipster heaven.

Enter TRAPPER ADAMS (22), a loyal, card-carrying member of the Indie Rock God party and younger brother to VICE PRESIDENT ELLIOTT ADAMS (30). Avoiding the stony gaze of PRESIDENT LEONARD STOCKHAUSEN (36) and his Secret Service goons, Trapper slips away from a political rally concert celebrating the upcoming elections. He winds his way through the narrow city streets, down to the abandoned underground subway station. Here he begins jamming with his best friend BOWIE SWANBERG (22) and other members of the Pop Party Revolution. Their music is wild, catchy, and just plain fun.

The next morning Trapper wakes up to find his name on the front page of every newspaper. Somehow, Trapper has been chosen to run the “opposition party” in the upcoming election one month away. For the past 50 years the opposition party has been a joke; in living memory, it’s always been an election between Indie Rock God and Indie Rock God, ensuring that the party stays in power.

Trapper does everything he can think of to get out of this predicament: feigns illness, injury, thinks about running away, faking his own death, each idea crazier than the last. Bowie finally lays it down: either you run and represent the Pop Stars or I release our demo tapes. The fact that Trapper has even played with another band would be a huge scandal; his family would disown him. 

The night before Trapper needs to declare his formal party allegiance, President Elvis Stockhausen appears in the abandoned subway platform where Trapper sits alone with his guitar. President Stockhausen reveals that he knows about the Pop Party, and it was the President himself who nominated Trapper to the opposition party. But instead of throwing Trapper in jail, he offers to mentor Trapper and the Pop Party. Trapper reluctantly agrees. Let the revolution begin! 


March 9, 2013: Refining Larger Ideas Into 10 Minute Shorts

Twenty-six-year-old Henry lives a solitary and anonymous life in the outskirts of LA; during the week he drives a tow truck and on the weekends, he bids on foreclosed storage units.  Today, he happens to win one. But when he tries to return some personal items to the office, they cannot find the address for the original owners and Henry begins a city-wide quest using clues from the photographs, trinkets and old toys. Will Henry find the original owners? And if he does, will they help him understand why he was searching so hard for them in the first place? 

Henry wants: To deliver the keepsakes to the original owners. 
Henry needs: To learn to connect to people. To have a family. 
Antagonist: The mystery of who these owners are  - Henry is stymied at every turn. Henry is also his own worst antagonist.

Act 1: Lonely, isolated whitewashed apartment. Solitary job. Eats alone. 

Inciting Incident: Wins the storage unit auction. 

Act 2 (Quest Launched): Can't find the original owners; he must return their personal effects

Act 2 Midpoint: Finds the location of the owners: a young boy, her young mother, and the boy's grandmother. Must now overcome fear/shyness. 

Dark Night of the Soul: The mother notices he's following her. Calls him a creep, threatens to have him arrested. In a fit of sadness/loneliness, Henry ruins all of the keepsakes.

Act 3: The young boy finds Henry and the destroyed keepsakes, his ruined toys. He brings Henry home and he faces the mother and grandmother. The mother realizes his intention all along; invites him in for dinner. We end on Henry at the cheerful dinner table, joking with the young boy. 

Earth Battery:
We open on the outside of a hospital room door in Hawaii, and we hear two women arguing. One of them (with a subtle mechanical tone to her voice) says they need to travel to the nearby volcano range to hunt for a battery. The other woman says she won't let it happen. We enter the room and only see one woman: Pippa, a 24-year-old medical resident who has recently been inhabited by an alien named Zee. The argument is happening in Pippa's head. As these two explore Hawaii in search of the mysterious battery, Pippa experiences what it is like to know you are the one person on Earth who knows the world is going to end, but you're incapable of telling anyone...and there's nothing you can do to stop it. 

Pippa wants: to save the planet.
Pippa needs: to appreciate the people around her. Confess her love to her classmate Nick.
Antagonist: Zee, who is working to save HER planet

Act 1: Zee has already inhabited Pippa's body before the movie begins. Pippa at first believes she's just gone crazy from medical school residency lack of sleep and stress, but Zee eventually convinces her that this is real. Now on Earth, Zee waits for her mission. 

Inciting Incident: Zee receives her mission: find the Earth Battery - Pippa has been selected because she either knows where it is, or someone close to her knows. 

Act 2 (Quest Launched): Pippa doesn't understand the scope of the mission, but she is stubborn and knows she doesn't want to help some alien body-invader. We learn that Pippa maintains some control over her body, but that Zee is ultimately in charge. 

Act 2 Midpoint: It's Nick! Pippa's crush NIck (an older medical school resident) is the one that knows where the Earth Battery is and Zee needs to convince Pippa to help get him to tell them where it is. 

Dark Night of the Soul: Pippa must choose between helping an alien or having that alien spill all of her embarrassing secrets. 

Act 3: Pippa agrees to help. Zee is pleased, and says, "Great and if we find it before the week is out, I'll even let you say goodbye to all these people? Oh, didn't I tell you? The Earth Battery is what keeps your planet orbiting the sun...but you're going to help me take it back to my planet." 

The Jam Slam
In a world where the most important social currency is music and a quality karaoke performance can get you elected president, the incumbent political party (Indie Trendy Rock Gods) have reigned for the past 50 years, creating a city culture that is serious and intense and artful. But every ten years a person is selected by lottery to create any kind of musical opposing party. For this short, we meet Trapper Adams, a young member of the Indie Trendy Rock God Party (but with a secret penchant for pop music). He's going along his normal routine when he finds out that HE has been selected to create the next political musical movement. The Indie Trendy Rock God Party (led by Trapper's charismatic older brother) think they've got him on their side, but his underground pop cover band wants to start a revolution. Will Trapper follow his brain or his heart when he is forced to choose his party affiliation? 

Trapper wants: to be a great musician; to make his older brother proud.
Trapper needs: to be true to himself and the music he really wants to play.
Antagonist: The Indie Trendy Rock God Party, led by his brother 

Act 1: Trapper attends his monthly Indie Trendy Rock God party meeting; he is a young member, gets special treatment because his brother is in charge. He's being groomed for leadership, he's a very talented musician but suffers from awkwardness and stage fright. Trapper leaves the meeting and after a series of twists and turns, end ups underground in the sewer, practicing with his gang of misfit friends who want to start a musical revolution: The Pop Stars. They are interested in playing their OWN fun, wacky, catchy music, not just iterative serious stuff.  

Inciting Incident: Trapper's older brother announces that in one month, when the once-in-a-decade elections happen, it will be his baby brother Trapper who is running the opposition party. (We come to understand that the dominant party always selects the opposition party, to better ensure their own victory. For the last 50 years it has been Indie Trendy Rock God party vs. Indie Trendy Rock God party - everyone wins.) Trapper is panicked - he doesn't want this role.  

Act 2 (Quest Launched): Trapper does everything he can think of to get out of this: feigns illness, injury, thinks about running away, faking his own death.

Act 2 Midpoint: Bowie, Trapper's best friend from the underground, finally lays it down: either you run and represent us (the Pop Stars) or I release our demo tapes and everyone will know either way. 

Dark Night of the Soul: Trapper must choose: represent the Pop Stars and be disowned by his family, or run for the Indie Trendy Rock God party and betray himself. 

Act 3: An older, revered member of the Indie Trendy Rock God party says: I will mentor you if you decide to run for the Pop Stars. That decides it: he's going to be true to himself. 

Obsolete Inc: 
Drowning in circus school debt, trapeze artist Emma Johnson (23) was rejected from every last circus on earth (no partner = no job) and is now temping at an office of a factory that makes ball bearings. It's a reliable industry; we'll always need ball bearings. But standing online at the temp office, Emma meets an out-of-work reporter and a young cartographer and they begin joking about a premise for a reality show about the three of them once more pursuing their dreams. Will Emma risk poverty and give her dream one last shot? 

Emma wants: to be a trapeze artist, flying above the mess.
Emma needs: to trust people, to become part of a community.
Antagonist: Modern times/technology

Act 1: Emma sits at a boring temp job, daydreaming about her childhood trips to the circus. She snaps out of it to see her boss facing her; she's fired. We sense this isn't the first time she's been fired for being flighty.

Inciting Incident: Standing in line at the temp agency, she happens to strike up a conversation with the man in front of her, an attractive out-of-work reporter. They start joking about their desired professions not desiring them back. A wannabe cartographer behind them chimes in. We should tape the first episode of a reality show, about us trying to keep our professions alive. They laugh. 

Act 2 (Quest Launched): Emma begins another boring temp job, very similar to the last. But now we see her also show up at the local circus school, ask to use the trapeze. "We haven't seen you here for a while." 

Act 2 Midpoint: Reporter calls her: I think we should really do this show. I think people will get on board with it. Are you in? 

Dark Night of the Soul: Emma must decide between quitting her temp job (risking debt, eviction, etc) to take one last shot at her dream, or forever wondering what might have been.

Act 3: Day 1 of filming. Everything's going wrong. What was Emma thinking??

And I figure this project page is going to get awfully copy-heavy, so I thought I'd mix it up a bit (and try to nail down some key visuals/ideas) by creating mini-mood board for each ideas. Here's a first attempt!

Big Shorts - image 1 - student project

Big Shorts - image 2 - student project

Big Shorts - image 3 - student project

Big Shorts - image 4 - student project


March 6, 2013: Pitch Ideas: 

Storage (Drama/Romance)Henry was twelve when his father left for a business trip and never came back; shortly thereafter his erratic mother put all of their belongings in storage and spend the rest of his childhood on the road.  They could also have spent the rest of his childhood on the road). Now a 26-year-old manchild, Henry bids on foreclosed storage units in a hopeless attempt to find the last gift his father left for  him. When he wins a storage unit and tries to return some personal items back to the original owners, he stumbles into the middle of a quirky family he never knew he always wanted.

The Earth Battery (RomCom): Zee, a hyper-efficient alien from a dying planet, is given a mission: she has one week to locate and retrieve the Earth Battery, a prehistoric rock buried deep under the Earth's surface that is the real reason the Earth orbits the sun. In order to find the Earth Battery, Zee inhabits the body of Pippa, a shy twenty-something medical student. But Zee is surprised to discover the joy in small human moments and the affection she feels for Pippa's classmates. Though she has grown to love both planets, at the end of the week only one can survive.

The Jam Slam (Comedy): In a world where the most important social currency is music and a quality karaoke performance can get you elected president, teenage frontman Trapper Adams is chosen by lottery and now his scrappy pop cover band must battle stage fright, derision and long odds to challenge the incumbent Indie Hipster Rock Stars to an epic jam slam for the musical soul of their serious city.

Obsolete Inc. (Comedy): When a clumsy trapeze artist is laid off due to circus cutbacks and no other circus will take her, she believes that her dream is dead. But on the waiting line at a temp agency, she meets an out-of-work newspaper reporter and an aspiring cartographer, and they decide to open their own revolutionary kind of business to try to preserve their dreams even when the whole world is telling them to give up and move on.

Meg Gallagher

Art Director