My Short Film Wins “Best Film” at CBU Film Festival!

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.

[my brother John and I at the CBU Film Festival]

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!

pictured with Emma Schoon

The process…

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Mannequins: A Brief Look

Most of us watch movies all the time. And most of us are terrified of mannequins. There’s something about distortions of the natural human figure that stir, within most of us, an instinctual fear. I won’t begin to try explaining this.

On the contrary, I find that, while a bit off-putting, most mannequins are quite friendly and no less intriguing as character studies.

My brother paradoxically imitating the imitators
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“Two Strangers” – A POEM

Hey, coming at ya with some freshly made poetree. More surreal and metaphorical than most of my other poems (wait I take that back, all of them are already super metaphorical I think). But definitely more dream-like and intangible. With an interesting ABAC rhyme scheme, where only two of the four lines rhyme. Perhaps that does something in the way of propagating the story content of the poem, where there’s organization and reason to events, but at the same time, an ungraspable abstraction.

Yes, the structure of a poem can portray something about the conceptual, the ideas being expressed within writing, sometimes:

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Sneak Peak: “The Cashier” – a short story

One of my more recently completed short stories, aptly titled “The Cashier,” is now on Amazon as an eBook – this merits an explanation, does it not? Explanations to questions such as “what is this short story about?” and “is it worth the $0.99?” and even more rude questions like “and I care because…?”

So I thought I’d share a few things about it. “The Cashier” materialized into existence as I sat on my couch in my dorm room, a blank Google Doc open on my laptop, my brain on high speed due to the energy drink I’d recently ingested. Never underestimate the power of a good energy drink over your creative juices. The only thing you should be estimating, for that matter, is the ingredient label. Make sure it’s healthy, not sweetened with sucralose, or even cane sugar, but rather a natural blend of something like stevia, monk fruit extract, and the like.

That is neither here nor there.

All that to say, I stared at my blank screen and searched for context to begin my first sentence. Given that this was a spontaneous short story, I had not formulated a detailed outline, character study, or plot arch. Usually, in these scenarios, I start a random sentence and let that decide the direction the rest of the story is headed. This was no different.

Preview it here:

I used to bus tables at a restaurant before college, so I decided to write about a character who worked at a pizza place. Instead of bussing tables, of course, he would be selling pizzas at his cash register. The common theme here was “customer service,” which I decided I would write about. So I began:

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Various Forms of Poetry

When we think of a poem, no doubt there is one specific poem stereotype that surfaces in our mind. Perhaps Louis-Stevenson’s “whose woods are these, I think I know,” or the over-used “roses are red, violets are blue,” or something of the sort. Some may think poetry is merely any combination of rhyming words.

Oh, but poetry can take on an infinite array of formations. Oxford Languages put it well, defining poetry as a “literary work in which special intensity is given to the expression of feelings and ideas by the use of distinctive style and rhythm.” No mention of rhyming, or repeating patterns, or certain number of syllables. A poem is a poem for its expression of feelings and ideas in which there is marked style and rhythm. What that style and rhythm you use, as the poet, it completely up to you.

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“Island in a Water” – POETREE

“Island in a Water

by Michael Metzler Jr.
Behind my house, on the other 
Side of my garden,
There’s a hill, and through this hill
There is a burrow, that leads to a
Different somewhere.

I’m not certain
Where this certain somewhere is,
But it’s a place I like to go
When the sky clams up 
And the stars in outer space
Run away,
I think.

Down through my garden,
Passing rows of cauliflower,
Escorted by the bees
As they make their way from
Tree to tree.

Entering the tunnel, where the
Darkness comes to greet me
And I leave behind my garden
And my rows of apple trees.

The musty dampened clamor
Of the millions in the city
Square, pummeling each other
With their tongues, this
Noise.
Tries to reach me through the tunnel
But my tunnel doesn’t care.

Silence.

It’s then I sit on an island in a water
My reflection looking back
Into my soul.
And I become still.
Stiller than the water that
I’m sitting on. 

No one else knows of my 
Tunnel, or my 
Island on the water,
If they did, then I am sure
It would not be there
Anymore.

the end

A Note on How We Analyze

Remember high school English class? I’m sure we’ve all had that high school (or college) experience of being assigned schoolwork that consisted of reading a work of literature and then analyzing it. “What does this chapter say about the role of women in society during the 1940’s?” and perhaps “what is the author saying about capitalism here?” (Fun side-note for literature peeps: if you want to read a short story through a Marxist lens, try my short story on Amazon).

When assigned these questions for homework, where to begin searching for answers? We can’t ask Victor Hugo or Herman Melville what they were trying to say about gender roles or the working class, because they aren’t around anymore. And, a lot of the time, I’m sure many of us would say it felt like we were making things up just to get the homework out of the way. It begs the question – for analysis, is there really a CORRECT analysis for any given project? Or is it fine to stop at mere speculation, as long as we provide the correct number of citations to back our claim?

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