What Becomes of Us (2018 / IMDb)
|Chapter 1 - Miles of Shadow||Ken Cohen and Kellie Wiggins|
|Chapter 2 - Lilah||Kirsten Ray|
|Chapter 3 - Max Croft||Jared Major|
|Chapter 4 - PsychoAcoustics||Michelle Iannantuono|
|Chapter 5 - Workplace Violence||Elizabeth Mears|
|Chapter 6 - Fallen||C Michael Whaley|
|Chapter 7 - Blush||John Johnson|
John and I set out to try something different with this film. We asked six filmmakers to each create a 5-10 minute short film that is dark and suspenseful. We didn’t give any subject matter or criteria other than it had to be serious (no comedy). The filmmakers could come up with any story they wanted to tell. Once all six were done, John and I came up with a seventh story that tied all of them together as best we could.
This is a feature length film made up of the seven short films. The stories are tied together through the use of crossover characters. Each filmmaker received a character from the story before and left one for the story after. The next filmmaker had to use that character in the same manner as the previous film. The character could be used in a major fashion or killed off immediately, but the character’s personality could not be changed.
This was quite a challenge. Tying together six unrelated films is not easy. We initially tried to come up with a common theme for all of stories, but this proved to be too difficult. So we came up with the idea of having our story incorporate characters and elements from the other six stories into ours. The stories are already tied together by use of crossover characters. We just needed to tap into those stories and the audience would make the connections automatically.
We didn’t know how this would be received by other local filmmakers. We were happy when almost all of the filmmakers we propositioned immediately jumped on board. The films were written and shot fairly quickly and everyone was as excited about the project as we were. We couldn’t have hoped for better. Fortunately, everyone worked together well and any potential problems with using/scheduling crossover characters were kept to a minimum.
The biggest hurdle we had to overcome was the concern for marketing and festival submission. Understandably, the filmmakers want to be able to submit their individual films to festivals. But we had to make sure that we were not competing with ourselves by submitting the feature film and the individual shorts to the same festivals. However, this turned out to be less of an issue than original imagined.
Our seventh film, the one that ties them all together, is called Blush. It is about a mother who is a former model, but is now slightly past her prime and trying to live vicariously through her daughter who isn’t interested in that lifestyle. The mother feels that the daughter owes her as the pregnancy cut her modeling career short. The daughter just wants a mother who loves her for who she is and not what she could become.
What makes the film work is the use of tie-in’s to the previous films. Our seventh film does not actually run sequentially after the first six, rather it loops back to the beginning of the first film and runs parallel to the rest. This way we show what some of the characters are doing when they are not on screen and it helps fill out back/side story for the other films.
The final scene of Blush is completely dependent on one of the other stories. If the audience misses or doesn’t remember this earlier segment, our ending has no impact. Perhaps it’s a risk, but we feel it is better to assume a smart, engaged audience than to dumb down our films and insult the audience altogether.
We honestly have no idea how festivals will receive this work. There are guidelines to submitting films that increase your chances of acceptance. One of the guidelines regards film length. If you make a short, keep it under 15 minutes. Longer than that and the festival organizers could pass you up in favor of multiple shorter films. If you make a feature, know that your chances of acceptance have already dropped as the available slots per festival just dropped from 50 to 5. So your feature better be great.
But what about a feature made up of short films? An anthology? Well, we’re not sure. Will the festivals like the fact that multiple filmmakers are involved and it’s a collaborative effort or will they see someone trying to submit an entire shorts block in one submission? This could go either way. It doesn’t seem to happen very often, so there is no helpful information about this on the web.
Update (Dec 2018)
This film was only selected at one festival, where it won the Audience Choice Award. Based on this, I believe it would have been accepted well by other audiences, but the format just didn't allow it to be selected. That was indeed a concern we had. But in my opinion, this is a great achievement and I congratulate all the filmmakers involved in this project who made it possible with their time, effort, and scheduling…and of course, their creativity!