Rule 17 (2016)

The past can reshape us and break us in ways that will always determine who we become. Meet Faraday. A stickler for the rules and if you break them, she will make you pay.

Written & Directed by Rob Bowen
Assistant Director: Katie Hermanson
Starring: Sara Balakrishnan, Jareth Spirio, Nicole Goeke
Featuring: J Giordano & Mark Lutinski
With: Jacob Hillman & Tricia Timney
FX: Rob Bowen

Director’s Notes

It has been said, that necessity is the mother of all invention. This latest short film helps to sell that argument here in the film world, as my driving need to create another film in 2016 gave rise to this new script and idea overall. Having had two other short films fall through as we tried to get them off the ground this year, I began looking at the remaining completed scripts I had and realized that none of them were speaking to me at that time. Those that had been promised to certain actors aside (because those were the ones that we had already attempted), I needed something potent and new that was going to grab my attention. That’s when I came up with Kendall and Anne, and another Whatsabudget love story was born. Continue reading

Bad Friends (2016)

Reggie’s day just turned into an absolute shitshow! With a little help from his friends, that is. Bad friends.

Written & Directed by: Rob Bowen
Assistant Directors: Josh Boehnke & Sara Balakrishnan
Starring: Nicole Goeke, Mark Cannon, Chad Myers & Rob Bowen
Featuring: Sara Balakrishnan, Chloe Carr & Charlie Moore
Makeup/FX: Matt Young


- Winner of Best Live Action Comedy in 16th Annual UCCS Student Short Film Festival – May 2016

Director’s Notes

What has quickly become a favorite of mine, Bad Friends was an interesting project in many ways. After completing a short film for my Film Theory class which did not get a full release online, I was anxious to make another short, and had even hoped to get it made by the end of 2015. I knew I wanted to make a comedy, and after recently connecting with talented actor Nicole Goeke via the Peak Film Forum in Colorado Springs, I knew she was who I wanted to work with on the project. I selected a script and we began putting pieces together to try and knock it out at the end of the year (which at the time was fast approaching). When it became clear that 2015 was not going to happen, we rolled into the idea of having the film kick off the new year and be our first of 2016. Continue reading

Don’t Save (2015)

A writer is forced to face a question she’s been dodging for 20 years when she is confronted by her past. Can she find a way to move on from the moment that haunts her?

Directed by: Rob Bowen
Written by: Rob Bowen
Starring: Stephanie Schlis & Erica Erickson

epilogue – Thrift’s Heroine (music video)

Director’s Notes

This film is actually quite the personal one. This is probably evidenced by the dedication at the end of the short. On May 5th, 1995, Christina Sickler was killed in a car accident in Blytheville, Arkansas. She was my friend. Someone I loved. And the first person who would introduce me to loss of this nature. At the beginning of the school year, I was a junior in high school, Christina, a sophomore ended up in my Spanish class and we were assigned to the same group. We became fast friends. And before the school year was out, I would lose her forever.

Christina would be the first person I would lose that was of my own age group. The supposed indestructibility of the teenage years we ignorantly live with (if we are privileged enough to have this bubble of naivety undisturbed by the oft destructive nature of life itself into our teens), came crashing down around me in such a heartbreaking way. Continue reading

The Magician (2015)

A magician never reveals his secrets…

Directed by: Rob Bowen
Written by: Rob Bowen
Starring: Mark Lutinski and Chris Medina

Director’s Notes

‘The Magician’ was an extremely exciting project for a number of reasons. Not only was it our first Hitchcockian thriller, and our first short film of 2015, but it was also the first film I have worked with make-up effects! When an old friend I had been out of touch with for a couple of years reached out to me via Facebook mentioning he was doing make-up and prosthetics and wanted to work with me once again in our new lives and capacities, I immediately jumped at the opportunity. The new semester’s Film Studies classes had given me a lot of new insights into Hitchcock and the techniques he would use in his films (from the identity uncertain being draped in gray and overall meaningful use of wardrobe color choice, to the psychologically tense scoring instrumentation over music, even the MacGuffin itself) and so I wanted to work in the same waters and homage his masterful storytelling with a tense short film.

Enter ‘The Magician’. Continue reading

The Suitcase (2014)

Bo and Luke are a bit of a yin and yang. Luke sees the world through the idealist’s lens of endless wonder and possibility. Bo sees the world through the realist’s lens of cynical acceptance of the way the world actually is. Today, their perspectives collide in a comical way when a discarded suitcase appears during their hike. Find out what’s in the suitcase in Whatsabudget Films new short!

Directed by: Rob Bowen
Written by: Rob Bowen
Starring: Michelle Dawn Sharpe & Rob Bowen
With: Bunny Williams & TJ Peterson

Director’s Notes

This film was particularly meaningful for me, because it accomplished two major things. First, it got this film done after over two years of delays and recasts. Secondly, it was our sixth short film of 2014, a personal goal which I had set for myself during the year.

Initially, The Suitcase was written to be our fourth short film, back in 2012. However, due to the city doing some major road construction next to the spot I had scouted to shoot, it became postponed. A postponement that would inevitably set a trend that haunted this would-be Whatsabudget production. Continue reading

Lather Rinse Repeat (2014)

When it reigns, it pours! Inspired by David Foster Wallace’s The Water and my Women and Ethnic Studies classes.

Directed by: Rob Bowen
Written by: Rob Bowen
Starring: Erica Erickson, Desiree Myers, Michael Lee, Kacie Vance, Michelle Dawn Sharpe, and Mark Lutinski.
Original Score Composed by Adam Hooper


- Recipient of 15th Annual Rosa Parks Scholarship from UCCS – Feb. 2015
- Winner of Best Live Action Comedy in 15th Annual UCCS Student Short Film Festival – May 2015

Director’s Notes

Lather was a project of particular passion for me. After reigniting my life’s social justice advocacy voice, I really had a desire to start melding my two loves and voices together as my studies in school are aimed at doing. However, where in school I am directing a large amount of focus to making documentary films, I really wanted to play with the idea of making a narrative film with these messages and concepts being presented and explored.

Much like I have sought to do with my podcast (nearly in its eighth year of living loudly on the virtual airwaves), I wanted to present the ideas and concepts through a lens of comedy to help soften them and allow for easier consumption. To help take some of the abrasive edge that wanted to permeate and explode through the messages and dialog of the film as I penned it. So the film, while it takes something of a humorous approach to doing so, is really a commentary and deconstruction of the patriarchal oppression that runs rampant through all facets of our society. Continue reading

What You Need – Music Video (Director’s Cut 2014)

Karen is keeping a secret from her son. One she has shared with Jayne, entrusting her and begging her to aid her in her request. This is something that Jayne will carry with her forever.

Song by: What’s Fair
Directed by: Rob Bowen
Written by: Rob Bowen
Starring: Erica Erickson & Leah Chandler-Mills
With: Kacie Vance & Micheal Lee

Director’s Notes

Years ago through my podcast, I managed to connect with the lead singer of an amazing band who was moved to pen a song inspired by the show. I loved their music and this was a big honor for me. So when I began making films, I reached out to the band and asked if I could feature one of their songs in what would then be my second short film. They not only gave me permission for that song alone, but they told me that I was free to use any song they had on their album for any project I wanted in the future too. I was floored by their generosity, and what I can only interpret as a huge act of faith and vote of confidence. I mean, they had no idea what I would end up making, but they trusted me to not misuse their work.

I was moved by their entrusting me with their art, and so I took the charge very seriously. Not only that, but I knew at some point, I would want to find a way to thank the band for this trust and show them how much their generosity meant to me. It was as summer approached in 2014 that I landed on just how I wanted to do that. So without telling the band what I had planned to do, I set out to find one of their tracks that I had yet to use, for which I could pen a moving short film to pair with it. It didn’t take me long to find that track. As I listened to the song, I began to see the pain my characters were experiencing. Continue reading

Return of the Masked One (2014)

Nearly two years after Carol’s past caught up with her, and the Masked One’s reclaiming of her soul forever marked the spot where she died, a new tenant in the building unwittingly opens a dark new chapter of this horror tale.

When Garret spills a few drops of blood, he begins a fast descent down into darkness, opening the door between worlds for the Masked One to return and claim a new soul for his dark schemes. Will Garret’s own past prevent him or anyone else from taking this threat seriously?

Directed by: Rob Bowen
Written by: Rob Bowen
Starring: Mark Cannon & Jim LaVasseur

Director’s Notes

Shortly after finishing the first installment in this horror series, I knew I wanted to revisit and expand on the mythology I was building, because lets face it, these days, you gotta have a sequel! It’s a horror rule that Scream so poignantly explained (then exploited). But I also knew that the first film offered so little of the established character mythos that I had constructed in putting the film together, that I figured I would eventually want to come back to this tale and build more. Reveal more. Even if it is done subtly.

I began toying with the idea of how I would continue the story in the same settings, and use a different aspect of the Masked One’s dark plan to drive and unfold the narrative. And while the idea itself began to take some distinct shape that was appealing to me, it wasn’t until I came up with the words of the Prophet for this part of the story, those two lines of poetic verse that act as something of a hook in the plot, that I was completely sold on moving forward with the sequel. Continue reading

Tabula Rasa (2014)

In this new short from Whatsabudget Films we follow the story of Regan King and her older sister, Ril as they try to recover and pick up the pieces following a tragic accident that changed their lives forever.

Directed by: Rob Bowen
Written by: Rob Bowen
Starring: Kacie Vance & Michelle Dawn Sharpe

Director’s Notes

Tabula Rasa was a nice break from the kinds of stories I had been telling up to this point. Fresh off the heels of Soulmates, we began shooting on Lather Rinse Repeat until scheduling caused us to have to put that film on the proverbial back burner. Not wanting to be slowed from making my 2014 goal, and having just met Michelle and Kacie from their work we had done on Lather, I penned the piece for the two of them and they were on board immediately. We happened to all have a window of availability that lined up perfectly, and we were off!

Having just completed our first love story in Soulmates, I wanted to focus my pen on a vastly different kind of love story, but a tale of love nonetheless. Regan and Ril’s story certainly gave me that opportunity, as it unfolds a heartbreaking tale of commitment and stewardship in the wake of unrelenting difficulty and tragedy. Michelle perfectly embodied that exasperated and yet thoroughly dedicated older sibling that we find in Ril, and gave the character an edge that almost reads as indifference, but comes out in the end as a guarded sense of self-protection. Ril is afraid of letting herself be hopeful that things will work themselves out and change as her experience has forced her to accept otherwise. Continue reading

Soulmates (2014)

From Whatsabudget Films and Arbent Creative Media comes a story of a love so deep it can only be described as that shared between soulmates. As Carlyle tells the story of two such star-crossed lovers in this new short film, we follow the tale and see it unfold. This is the story of Julia and Monty.

Directed by: Rob Bowen
Written by: Rob Bowen
Starring: Mark Cannon, Erica Erickson, Dana Kjeldsen, Mark Lutinski

Director’s Notes

Soulmates was our first crack at a love story, but of course, I had to give the tale my usual dark streak. Playing on a Romeo & Juliet vibe, these star-crossed lovers were destined for heartache, but that still let us explore the depths and strength of their love for each other. This was quite the ambitious project, because at this time, it was the largest cast we had worked with, and the most involved script to sort out with more set changes and locations than previous scripts (with the possible exception of Beware the Masked One), so overall, getting this short shot in a single day, was challenging.

So when I laid out the shoot, I also broke it down by location and actors needed so that we could try and move the shoot along in a timely fashion, and be respectful of everyone’s schedule as possible. This meant starting the day with the two Marks at my apartment which had been transformed into a cafe for the morning. Continue reading