Saturday, May 26, 2007


It took me all day to publish this on my blog. I wrote all of it out this morning, a minute-long animated short, and then I spent the entire day thinking about the family I would be dedicating this film to - I know they are out there online, and I've kept in touch with them, so I would want to tell them in person or over the phone before they would ever see this. But, I thought I'd at least share it with you, especially in a place where I'll remember to look forward to my next project. When I finish it, if it is worthy, I intend to ask them if it would be all right to make an official dedication.

On a brief sidenote, just to point something out: lately I've been struggling to find inspiration. It's been a tough several months and although I still love what I'm doing, I've occasionally become overwhelmed with ideas about work, marriage, family, friends, and the whole nine yards. People I look up to often suggest turning to whatever inspires me, but for some reason I've been overlooking the obvious for the longest time. Today I finally hammered it out - life itself inspires me - people and their unique journey through it, and perception of it - and for me, a lot of that is manifest in my dreams. I'll elaborate more on that later. For now, back to talking about this film...

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

About 'Audrey'

'Audrey' came to me in a dream in the waking hours of the morning on May 26, 2006. The night before I had seen a movie which employed the soft, eerie sounds of a musicbox to transform the mood to that of innocence and youth. I think it was this sound that triggered me to think about my childhood. Before high school, I lived in Peoria, Illinois in a nice suburban area - a good place to grow up - with many neighborhood children. Many of them were a bit younger than I was, which meant once I got to a certain age, I could babysit for them. I started when I was 11 or 12, babysitting my kid neighbors, a girl about 8 and her brother, about 5. By the following year I had babysat around the neighborhood enough that other neighbors with very young children were allowing me to watch over them. One family across the street had a very small boy just out of his toddler years - a very sweet boy who loved cars and his PlaySchool adjustable basketball hoop. His parents were very protective of him, always with him and guiding him, but now they were ready to let go and allow a 13 year old to watch him. He had wonderful toys in his garage, which was his favorite place to play along with his driveway. He was a very sweet boy. I remember going across the street once just to say hello, and he ran across his driveway to jump up and give me a koala bear hug - so attached, both his arms and legs wrapped around me and smiling with bright eyes, about a thousand freckles, and two outstanding top eye teeth, infinitely charming.

The time came that my father told our family we were moving to Fort Wayne, Indiana - hard words to hear for my sister and I who loved our safe, friendly neighborhood and all we knew. We didn't know that we would be attending some great schools and meeting some incredible people - all we knew was that we were leaving the town we grew up in. Through the late spring before our move, I continued to babysit for the family with the young boy. They now had a baby girl, as well - the youngest child I've ever watched, only a few months old. It was scary, but with my own mother across the street, I always had someone I could call on for help myself if I needed it.

Soon the movers arrived and all of our treasured things were being clumsily thrown into boxes. I tried to pack my belongings quickly so that these strange people wouldn't have to touch them and possibly break them. I handled everything of mine with care as swiftly as possible, stopping only occasionally for a melancholy glance out my bedroom window, or a quick turn of my favorite musicbox. I remembered the times I used to run around my room, winding every music box up to all play at the same time. It was an insanely delightful sound which I loved to unleash on my family - but on this particular day, I only wound the one: a lonely looking porcelain girl in a flowing peasant nightgown, holding a teddy bear and wearing a night cap, and looking off into nowhere as her box played "Where Are The Clowns." Probably the saddest music box for a child to grow up with, but one that I loved anyway, and it was surely fitting to play it as I sadly put everything into boxes to be taken to a strange new place.

It certainly wasn't easy, but surely enough we made the transition and learned to love our new hometown, schools, and friends, and I grew up. Before long I became a senior in high school, with aspirations of becoming a computer animator, and an eye toward college life. I was taking art and computer graphics classes, but also an advanced physics class and advanced English. I was growing with the opportunities that surrounded me, and I was so thankful to have moved to such a fantastic environment. I did long to visit my past, however, and looked forward to a day I could go back to visit. That's why I was thrilled one night, as I headed to the downstairs computer to type a paper, when I checked my email and saw a new message from one of my old neighbors. I opened it quickly with a smile stretched across my face, awaiting news of what life was like back in Peoria.

How brief that joyful moment was. It was a very short note, only a few sentences long, and possibly the worst way to deliver the absolute worst kind of news. In one shocking moment, I learned that the freckled boy I used to babysit had died in a drowning accident. He was only six years old. I remember the awful feeling - bursting into horribly uncontrollable tears and screaming, somehow making my way back up the stairs and into the arms of my family, who had to interpret what had happened from my wailing, almost indecipherable cries. They were as shocked as I was, and trying unsuccessfully to console me. It was some time later that I found out what had happened. His usually very protective, watchful parents decided to allow him to go with a friend and his family to a local swimming pool. The two boys were playing a game to see how long they each could hold their breath under water. One boy eventually came up for air - the other, sadly, didn't - and worse, none of the adults or lifeguards noticed right away, and when they did, they were too shocked to know what to do, and the boy was not saved.

To this day it is heartwrenching. I still think about him from time to time, wondering if his charismatic freckles would have ever faded, or if he would have ever gotten braces, or if he would have always been the sweet, unconditionally loving and loveable person that he was. I wrote to his parents for a few years after that, but stopped eventually some time in college, realizing the need to let go of the pain. They still had their daughter, of course, and had to learn all over again how to let go, and to let faith and trust in God guide their actions as parents.

So the morning I woke up from a dream about a girl who drowned and the pain her mother went through, backed by the sad, soft tones of a distant musicbox, I immediately thought of this boy and his family, and I dedicate this piece to them.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The Film


1 minute short, opens with black screen, title fading in and then out.
Using part of Unbreakable soundtrack with music box type theme.
Note: This story is protected by Copyright and has been published at

Scene Begins:

Shot 1:
While still immersed in black, we hear a quiet voice.
Mother: "I had another dream last night..."

Fade in from black. Shot opens in a backyard with a lake. It is pouring buckets of rain, with deep grays in the sky. It is probably 4 or 5 in the morning.
Camera dollys out from backyard through a windowpane (zoom/crossfade if necessary). Camera continues to dolly out until it pulls back enough, wide shot, slight rack focus to see a woman sitting screen left at an empty kitchen table, sitting alone and looking down at her hands.

Shot 2:
High angle wide shot of woman on left third. She utters a question as if still partly in sleep, briefly tilting her head upward, eyes nearly closed, breathing deeply, remorse on her face.
Mother: "What happened to you, Audrey?"

Shot 3:
Medium close up shot of woman on left third. Somewhat low angle, to see her face (looking downward with eyes closed). Very slight (unnoticeable), eased dolly in as a small voice of young girl is heard, perhaps four years old (not seen).
Voice of Audrey: "I.. flooded..."

Mother's eyes open slightly and begin searching, head still down. Again, sleepily, she utters a question, disoriented as if in a dream.
Mother: "You, what?"

Shot 4:
As mother finishes question, eyes open slightly more and her head turns toward the window. She stands and faces away from camera, stepping toward the window, floor creaking. Camera dollys out to a long shot at a slight low angle, with slight rack focus to see apparition of Audrey (over the shoulder shot, Audrey on right third). We see her mouth moving and she is very still like a statue, eyes fixed on her mother. She speaks, sounding exactly the same as before.
Audrey: "I.. flooded."

Shot 5:
(Camera 90 CCW) Medium close up of woman on screen left, touching the window with her left hand, resting her right hand on the sink, and blinking her heavy eyelids, squinting to see through the rain. In the background we can see on the shelf a picture of Audrey with a red ribbon in her hair, wearing a striped bathing suit and squatting near a bucket and shovel in the sand.

Shot 6:
(Camera 90 CW back to original rotation - b.o.r.) Zoom in through single window pane to see a pond in the backyard. Beyond that, some hedges and a field. Trees framing the shot.

Shot 7:
(Camera 90 CCW) Close up of woman's face as her eyes come open and breathes a small gasp.

Shot 8:
(Camera 90 CW b.o.r.) Seeing through glass pane. Apparition of Audrey, posing as if comfortably asleep in her bed, at the edge of the water.

Shot 9:
(Camera 90 CCW) Extreme close up of woman's face, pained by the sight of her daughter fading.

Shot 10:
(Camera 90 CW b.o.r.) Seeing through glass pane one last time. Apparition fades, the glow spreading out over the water, and disappearing. Rain is still pouring.

Shot 11:
(Camera 90 CCW) Medium close up of woman as she sighs painfully and turns away from the window. We hear the floor creaking and a chair being pulled slightly.

Shot 12:
(Camera 90 CW b.o.r.) Wide shot of kitchen as woman eases herself back into chair, holding table to steady herself on the way down.
Mother: "I wish... I could have been there..."

Woman cups her hands to the sides of her forehead to suppress her emotion.

Shot 13:
Close up, low-angle shot of woman's face (looking downward). Hands quivering slightly, she closes her hands over her eyes as she speaks her daughter's name in a bellowed whisper.
Mother: "Audrey..."

Slight dolly in (barely noticeable). The rain can be heard letting up outside. A floorboard creaks. A slight glow lights upon the woman's face, and quickly vanishes. Woman turns head away from cupped hands (toward camera) to peer open her eyes.

Shot 14:
Medium shot of woman at table glancing around her kitchen, her hands still cupped closed in mid air, elbows bent and resting on table. Rain is stopping and sky is somewhat brighter momentarily. Acknowledging nothing, she turns back toward her hands and hunches slightly forward. Her eyes fade into her hands to hide, but then open back up as she lifts her head, as if cautiously surprised.

Shot 15:
POV shot toward hands as they open up slightly. A crack of light shows something thin and red. Hands open further, cautiously exposing a curled red ribbon lying in her palms facing the camera. Hands glow slightly.

Shot 16:
Medium close up of woman at the table, looking at the ribbon in her hands. She raises her shoulders and brings it to her face, breathing it in. She puts it to her chest as she lifts her head and then bows over her hands closed around the ribbon next to her heart, elbows still on table, bent over as if praying. Begins to rock side to side slightly.

Shot 17:
(Camera 90 CW) Medium close up from behind the woman sitting in her chair, head down, rocking slightly from side to side, still subtle but more obviously now, almost like a mother rocking her baby. Apparition is seen standing next to her mother (both are centered in the frame as camera dollys out). Audrey (on the right) fades out first, as mother keeps rocking with her head down. Then fade to black.

Scene Ends.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

I'll accept any criticism in comments below, or feel free to send me an email.
Note: This story is protected by Copyright and has been published at

1 comment:

Laura "Sko" said...

Crazy. I Googled "Audrey" just for the heck of it. After looking past just a few pages about Audrey Hepburn, I came across a memorial page for Audrey Santos. It's kind of chilling. She died just over a month ago at 20 years old after having been in a coma and akinetic mutism since age three, due to a drowning accident. An excerpt from an article (written before she died):

Little Audrey Santo lives in Worcester, Massachusetts. The change in Little Audrey's life began on a hot summer day, August 9, 1987, when Audrey was three years old. She was playing in the driveway with Stephen, her brother. It was on this day that Audrey fell into the family swimming pool, even though she had been afraid of water. Audrey recovered but was rushed to the hospital where she was overmedicated. The doctor prescribed too much Phenobarbital, and Audrey lapsed into a coma.
The hospital's physical therapist broke Audrey's legs and dislocated her shoulder. Then the doctor insisted on insertion of a tracheotomy tube. She remained in ICU with 24-hour nursing care. She was out of the coma in three weeks. She remains in a state called Akinetic Mutism — non-moving, non-speaking.

The "professionals" insisted that Audrey be placed in an institution. Audrey's mother Linda, felt that she would receive better care being home with her family. So in November four months following the accident, Audrey was brought home. Right from the beginning in the hospital hundreds of people came to pray for Audrey. Old friends, relatives and even strangers. Catholics and people from other faiths came, sent prayers, cards and gifts to Audrey. The hospital was so inundated with people, media and phone calls they eventually put Audrey in a private room in the PICU. For some reason God wanted Audrey to be known right from the beginning.

Pretty crazy. Anyway, just thought I'd share...