A bit before the CBU Film Festival, I posted my newest short film, “Simon Says,” to YouTube – it was a short film that I wrote, directed, edited, and starred in, with help from Emma Schoon as an amazing camera operator and supporting actress. It was filmed in 8 hours over the span of one day.
Last spring, at CBU’s 2022 Student Film Festival, (in partnership with the Riverside International Film Festival), “Simon Says” took home multiple awards, including Best Film, Best Screenplay, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actress (Emma), Best Editing, and the RIFF Audience Award for Best Student Film.
I had a ton of fun writing and shooting this project, and, having created it somewhat spontaneously for a small class project, honestly didn’t expect this level of success. I’m extremely grateful to CBU’s film department for allowing me access to many of the lighting and sound equipment that made this film possible, and another huge shoutout to Emma Schoon for being an incredible multi-faceted and patient one-person crew!
I wish there were tangible steps I could explain when it came to creating this short film. However, the central concept of “Simon Says,” and following screenplay I wrote based off it, were entirely spontaneous and sprung into my mind while I was attempting to put a workout in at the CBU gym. So, “well thought out” is definitely not a phrase I’d use to describe the screenwriting process; the story elements and corroborating narration seemed to fall into place haphazardly and just so happened to “work.” Whatever that means.
However, I can explain a certain level as it regards the inspiration for the cinematography, acting, and dialogue. I wrote this screenplay with the visual aspect, or cinematography in mind…which is usually how I write screenplays. This was shortly after having just seen the French classic Amelie and the charming British comedy Submarine somewhat back to back; the witty and somewhat random narration paired with the comedic cinematography stood out to me in Amelie, while the dry British narration humor of the young boy protagonist in Submarine caught my interest. In these ways I believe both of these films led to the fuller realization of the style I knew I wanted for “Simon Says.”
All in all, “Simon Says” was a positive and super fun experience to create – however, for some of my future projects I’ll be moving away from comedy and a little bit more into experimenting with psychological drama as well as other genres, such as my last project, Anonymous, which was more along the lines of experimental surrealism.