Sword and Suburb: My Newest Loner Narrative

Loners have always fascinated me. Being a part-time loner myself, I’m compelled by the narrative force of a character who is alone by choice or necessity, striving to accomplish a goal by their single strength or choosing to do nothing and fade into obscurity. There is both a flaw and a strength to the loner. On one hand their absence from others shows their selfishness and fear, but on the other it shows their discipline and focus. Loners are more likely to become delusional and do foolish things because they have no one to correct them, but they’re also able to take risks that others wouldn’t take.

A storyteller can examine a loner character’s motivations simply by their actions because a loner isn’t performing for anyone–they wear their true intentions on their sleeve. As a filmmaker I think this is my favorite aspect of the loner narrative. Little to no dialog is required to express what a loner is thinking and I can focus on the true driving force of cinema–action. A story about a loner can basically be a silent film, told through visuals alone, and this has always been my favorite way to tell a story.

Back in 2012, two years out from Film School I made one of my first loner narratives, Black Cat Hallowmas, a silent film about a young vigilante who wears a mask and wanders his suburban landscape. That film is still sitting on my hard drive, unfinished, but it’s led to more refined takes on the subject, including my most recent short film, Sword and Suburb, about a young vigilante who wears a mask and wanders her suburban landscape. Though the narrative is similar, much has changed between the two films: I’m using better production gear, more refined planning and shooting methods, and my script is clearer and hopefully more coherent.

They say a film is never really finished, and I’m not the first filmmaker to make the same film over and over again. Black Cat may see the light of day at some point, and I’m sure I have more films with loner narratives to come. In the meantime, take a look at my newest film on the subject.

Summer Stories: Penguinarium

Here’s episode 2 of my new miniseries Summer Stories. In this episode I wanted to capture the essence of 1940’s and 50’s horror with silent film storytelling. I shot the entire episode on my new Sony A7S II with a vintage Canon FD 20mm lens for a slightly surreal, off kilter look, and I chose a penguin to be the antagonist because they are inherently funny. Actually, this is an example of a prop inspiring a script. I found a retro plastic penguin statue at my local antique store this spring and the script just kind of fell into my head.