The Short Film
Side Piece centers around one night between three main characters, Alex, Ethan, and Sarah. We follow Alex as she learns the man she’s falling in love with is seriously seeing someone else, making Alex the other woman. To complicate matters, he asks Alex if she would be willing to have a threesome with his soon-to-be wife. She must decide whether or not to enter into this relationship with Ethan and Sarah, the man she loves and the woman he’s chosen to marry.
The Feature Film
The full story follows our protagonist, ALEX, as she learns the man she’s falling in love with is seriously dating someone else, making ALEX the other woman. Coincidentally, ALEX is dealing with her father’s affair and the effect it’s having on her entire family, specifically her mother MARIE-ANNA. While grappling with both issues ALEX puts her professional endeavors to the side creating an unhealthy environment for both herself and the people she loves.
Guided by the no-nonsense sensibility of her older-sister AMELIA and her fun and loyal best friends ANDREW, DANNY, and TAI, ALEX tries to make sense of her father's infidelity, her mother's devotion, and her own reckless decision making.
A Note From The Writer
In November 2016, I started to write a screenplay. I wanted to write about fidelity, about my family; I wanted to write for my friends and I wanted to write about the women I love. I had a lot of things to say and it just so happened, I had the perfect story.
The script had been marinating in my brain for about a year before I ever put pen to paper. I was terrified, writing your first feature film is almost like climbing Mount Everest in flip-flops. I thought, before I do anything, I need to have an understanding of how to tell a story in a visual medium. My year was spent building confidence; I watched movies, listened to podcasts, read scripts, and wrote sketches. If I was going to climb Mount Everest, I sure as hell wasn’t going to do it in a flip-flop.
That November, after a year of writing on post-its, napkins, and book jackets, the 100-page script came out in the span of three weeks. Over the next few months came four readings, three storyboards, and 25 drafts.
The third reading is when I knew I was onto something special. I had changed the ending to include a slight cliffhanger. The choice sparked a heated debate between the men and the women in the room. The majority of the women praised the ending as real and chilling. The men thought it was forced and took power away from the female lead. The opinions were so polarized. I remember one man in the room couldn’t let the argument go, he didn’t understand the ending at all. I spotted E.A. Moss out of the corner of my eye - she would later come on as the film’s director - she was shaking her head in frustration. Finally, someone snapped at him, “Well, maybe the script isn’t for you.”
E.A. Moss was at the first reading for Side Piece. She unofficially (officially) came on to pitch jokes and strengthen character development. By the third reading, I realized her understanding of human behavior was unparalleled to anyone I’d ever met. Perhaps that’s why she’s such a great improviser, her ability to pinpoint justification and intention are precise. One night, at The UCB East Village bar we discussed making Side Piece her Directorial debut. She accepted and after that, we were off to the races.
Armed with a good script and a great director, the movie had to be made. With the resources we had, we knew the only way to make our feature film was to make a proof-of-concept short film. Extracting and constructing the short story took time and patience but the hardest part about making a proof-of-concept short film was that, you know, if you had the money, you'd just be making the damn feature.
A Note From The Director
I wasn’t expecting to direct a short film right up until the day I thought “I must direct this short film.” Interpreting Alex’s story, collaborating with our DP, our crew, and directing this short film has been wildly rewarding. I got to do all of this because Alex trusted me to bring her script to life.
I didn’t know Alex had written a feature when she asked me to read a part at the initial table read. Throughout the iterations of the feature script and additional table reads, Alex kept asking me to spend more time on the script with her and I kept wanting to. We had started to toss around the idea to create and shoot a short script as a proof of concept for the feature. I was supposed to just be there for punch up and script doctoring, but I had a vision for the short that I had been privately mulling over before deciding to first tell our friend Steve (a director I’d previously AD’d for and our Side Piece editor). His response was that I should tell Alex and that I should direct it. This was just the boost I needed to decide, yes, I want to direct this short film. Alex agreed and we dove in.
Alex's script had complex characters with a variety of interwoven motivations. I had spent so much time thinking about what they say, why they say it, what they want and don’t want. Now I got to think about how we wanted to show that to an audience. Noting a friend’s script and directing their acting on set is not easy. It was a lot of hours spent on each other’s couches and a lot of tense, exhausted laughter in between. I am extremely proud of us as friends and as collaborators for what we accomplished. We worked hard to surround ourselves with a highly talented cast and crew and it paid off big time.
The long-term goal of making the feature film version of this story is staggeringly scary to me, but I would have told you the same thing about the short film a year ago. And here we are! I have no doubt I’ll be writing another note about the feature in another year’s time.