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

Awards/Recognition

- 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

Waiting for the Way (2013)

In this absurd short comedy based on Beckett’s Waiting for Godot, Dalv and Ess find themselves, as they do in most incarnations, waiting. Their conversations range from flawed philosophy to ponderings that smash through the fourth wall.

Directed by: Rob Bowen
Written by: Rob Bowen
Starring: Mark Cannon & Erica Erickson

Director’s Notes

I had big expectations for this short. It was our first full on comedy that was purely about nothing more than making people laugh (unlike our promotional comedic short, Coffee & Cigarettes). Immediately, I knew I wanted a comedic vehicle for Erica and Mark to pursue. Bringing Erica back was a no-brainer after she totally killed it in Seasons Change. But this time around, I wanted something lighter for her to play with. Mark I met through auditions from our planned feature film that C&C was a promo short for, and I had the chance to see him perform on stage. He was simply amazing, and I knew that I wanted to see him get to do something a little less heavy than Kafka’s ‘The Trial’, the play I got to see him act in. So I approached them both, and being theatre folks, they were willing to take on this challenge.

For years I had known I wanted to do something based on Samuel Beckett’s ‘Waiting for Godot’, but there was one problem, I had yet to see or read the play. So adapting my own version was not something that I particularly felt inclined to tackle. But still it gnawed at me. Then one day as I found myself watching the Monty Python documentary ‘Monty Python: Almost the Truth (Lawyers Cut)’, because I love me some Python. Continue reading

Coffee & Cigarettes (2013)

A promotional short for an upcoming feature film, Coffee Cigarettes takes a look at what happens when the personal tradition of a coffee shop customer comes up against the rules of the establishment and state.

Directed by: Rob Bowen
Written by: Rob Bowen
Starring: Ittany LaShay & Rob Bowen
With: Ariel Crawford & Gary Allen

Director’s Notes

Coffee & Cigarettes is something of a unique beast, because I wrote it as a simple promotional short that we could release to generate interest in another, larger project we had planned (and still do), but it also very much stands alone as a darkly comedic look at what happens when social rules and laws come up against the personal traditions of someone who lives outside such structures. The idea and the film itself, happened very quickly, which is why I had to step in and be on camera once again. Reaching out to local talent, I connected with Ittany who so wonderfully captured the attitude and fire of the character I gave her.

As I said, the planning and putting together of this film happened quicker than usual, and thus this project was done and ready months before it would be released (so as to coincide with the launch of the crowd funding campaign). Continue reading

Seasons Change (2013)

An emotional look at one woman’s struggle with depression and the isolating cold that it brings to swallow her whole.

Directed by: Rob Bowen
Written by: Rob Bowen
Starring: Erica Erickson

You can also get the free digital download of Seasons Change here! Just click and download will begin. Then just unzip the file and enjoy!

Director’s Notes

Seasons Change was a very personal piece, and one that I only felt comfortable doing once I knew I had the right actor for it. This was the first short (and would not be the last) where I would work with Erica. I met her during auditions for a feature film project I will discuss later, but immediately knew that she was someone who I could give anything to and she would instill it with awesome! The piece was already powerful, in my mind, but to realize it and see it come to life via Erica’s performance, she really brought more to the film than I could have imagined.

There was so much heart in her delivery of the monologue, that what is heard in the film is the very first take of her going through it. I had even altered and extended the monologue a bit the day before the shoot, so it wasn’t even the version of the script she had previously worked with, but she absolutely nailed it first time in. There is a back-up second take of the monologue that has never seen the proverbial light of day, because it simply wasn’t needed. Continue reading