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.

After nearly a year had gone by, and with construction still going, I edited the script to swap the action of the film to a new location (as the location is very much a part of the script and story).

The script and story were tied to a specific location, because this short is based (on concept at least) on a true story. While hiking by myself one day, I started up the staircase featured in the film, and to my surprise I discovered a small suitcase abandoned in the brush. Elements of the conversation between Luke and Bo in the film, were part of the discussion I had in my head about the suitcase and the possibility of what could be inside. In the end, the realist in me won out and I left without opening the suitcase to satisfy my own curiosity. Hence the film was born.

In the time that had passed, I sort of lost touch with the actors whom I had originally shared the script with and cast in the roles. So I took the fresh edit on the script as a sign that I should start new once more all around. So I recast the parts, and started trying to move forward on the project in early 2014. This is when the scheduling started to become a barrier to completing the film, which I was convinced would happen by Spring/Summer of 2014 at the latest. As scheduling delays continued, I began to see a gap in the amount of female driven comedies, and suddenly I wanted to go a different direction with the short, and make both characters women. So I recast…again.

This did not help the scheduling. When one of their schedules became completely packed and unavailable, I returned to the casting drawing board once more. This time around, I hesitated a bit, and in that hesitation, the original location for the film became available once more as the construction had completed. So I became reinvigorated once more for the project, and after three more rounds of recasting the role of Luke, had something of an epiphany. I call it that, because, calling it an embarrassing compromise takes the beauty and wonder out of it.

In order to get the film shot, I would have to step into the role of Luke, myself. While this is a decision I typically do not like to make, I felt that given the connection I had to the role and story (being based on actual events and a conversation I had with myself) that the universe, as guided by the gods and goddesses of film, would only let me finish the film were I to take on the role of Luke. This is how my mind justified me having to be in the film. With fucking destiny and shit. So you see how hesitant I was to do this.

However, I had revisited the casting already of two women, and had liked the underlying narrative that the film can offer when the roles are cast as a woman in the role of the Realist and a man in the role of the Idealist. The cynic versus the dreamer, in other words, as embodied through gender and the societal patriarchy and privilege we have today. So the idea of me stepping in, did not disrupt this added narrative I wanted to include in the short. And alas, we were able to move forward. With shooting over two weekends in December outdoors in Colorado, we lucked into nice-ish weather and we managed to complete the project as our twelfth short.

And as previously mentioned, our sixth short film for the year in 2014. This was a big deal to me because in both 2012 (our first year in no-budget indie filmmaking) we completed and released three shorts. The same holds true in the following year, 2013, which also saw us release three shorts before flooding and a return to school postponed any further works for the year. So when 2014 rolled around, I was primed and ready to go big for the year, even with a rigorous course-load in school and a desire to maintain my grades. And with the help of a lot of talented local individuals, we managed to make it happen! Using every available break from school, I managed to bust my ass and see the goal through.

And I couldn’t be prouder of the work we did!

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