Now that my short film, TALK, has been released to Amazon Prime, and I’m set to begin shooting my next film, The Suicide of James Rider, in two weeks, I figure it might be a good time to write about some of my hidden themes and concepts I played with during the making of, Talk.
When I’m asked what the film, Talk, is about, I always try mention that the theme of the film is simple: people in search of deep, meaningful, human connection. As much as this is true, there’s actually more to it than that, and I haven’t really talked about some of the deeper meanings of the film, until now.
I am going to breakdown some of my hidden meanings and tiny connections that I hope make the film special.
There will definitely be some SPOILERS to the film. So, if you don’t like that sort of thing, you should come back after you watch the 16 minute film.
First off, the coffee shop itself is like a way station for these people. Real life is happening just outside the front doors, and they’ve all come here to determine who they want to be, and decide what steps they are willing to take to get there. The story starts off optimistic, but quickly turns toward the negative. Each story reaches a boiling point and each of the main players are forced to make a decision.
Let’s start with Andrew and Juliet (Brandon Hofmann and Heather Beam) the couple on a first date, in search of new love. The couple actually represents two sides of this common activity. Andrew really is open and ready to find that special someone, whereas Juliet, although she appears to be on the same page as Andrew, actually represents that person who is really looking for any reason to push love away. She’s searching for any small thing she can blame as the reason any relationship is ultimately doomed. When she finds it…she snaps.
Steven and Beth (myself and Erin Laine) are an all too typical married couple, in a relationship that has lost its passion. Both blaming the other person. Once they see the situation for what it is, and are both willing to let go of everything else in their lives and move towards love, they can begin to be the couple they were when they first met in a similar coffee shop years before.
Mitchell (Kal Anglin) is an eager entrepreneur trying to find that special person he can collaborate with, to help him take his small business to the next level. It’s not about skill or experience, but about seeing eye to eye with a partner who understands his vision. Meanwhile, Stacy (Toni Deckers) has no passion in her work and represents a worker that is so wrapped up with the task at hand, she can’t even see that her co-worker could really use a little compassion.
Ali (Kaleia Giancini) is the lifeline of coffee shop, and also the glue that holds the stories together. She weaves in and out of each storyline like a nurse making her rounds at the hospital. She finds her own conflict once she steps out the backdoor to get some air.
Now, it’s going to get a little metaphysical. Ali actually represents good, positively, inspiration, and love. What is the one thing that can negatively affect these traits/characteristics? Self doubt. And that is exactly who Ali encounters when she sits outside and meets Ila (Sydney DeLeon). Ila is Ali spelled backwards. We find out later in the story that Ila isn’t really physically there. She’s just a manifestation of Ali’s all-consuming self doubt.
Lastly, we encounter Casey (Nathaniel Thomas), the man on a job interview. Casey is the opposite of Ali. Casey represents evil, greed, ego, lack of depth and passion. When
Casey is asked by Mitchell to talk about himself and not his achievements, Casey can’t do it. He’s void of passion, life, and love. Casey is the only person that Ali never interacts with. Ali “talks” with every other person in each story.
Then, we hit the point in the story, where each person must make a decision. Once my character, Steven, decides he’s going to choice love (and throws away his phone), it sets off a chain reaction in every storyline.
Then, Casey and Juliet realize there is no way they can offer the kind of real connection their counterparts are looking for. They both get up and leave the coffee shop together, taking with them, all the negativity in the room. Suddenly, Ali recognizes that she was able to withstand all that her inner-voice, Ila, had to throw at her. Ila takes a seat next to Ali, defeated, clearly knowing her fate. Once Ali musters up the energy to tell her to “F-off”, Ila disappears. Ali won this battle.
Ali, who clearly struggles with anxiety, created a quiet mantra for herself. Ali quietly repeats, “You’re OK. You’re OK. I’ll be fine”, as she tries to compose herself. After all of the day’s conflicts, Ali finds herself at the register, ringing up Andrew. When she asks Andrew about his own apparent trying day, Andrew replies with a very similar mantra as Ali’s, “I tell myself, “you’re OK. You’re OK. Everything’s going to be fine””. With these words, the two lock eyes and recognize the deep human connection that was apparently right in front of them, all along.
So that’s it. We’re all looking for the same thing. We just have different ways of trying to get it, but we all just want to connect. Really connect. Be heard and truly be seen. So thinking of it this way, perhaps I miss-titled this film. Maybe instead of naming it, Talk…perhaps a more fitting title would have been, simply, Listen.