Date of Submission

Spring 2020

Academic Program

Film and Electronic Arts

Project Advisor 1

A. Sayeeda Moreno

Abstract/Artist's Statement

Happyville - Happiness Awaits

I believe in making films for entertainment—as an escape from ordinary life, where we can experience a story unlike our own. There’s nothing I love more than creating stories for others to enjoy. The art of creation is my passion. I knew when it came time to writing a script for my senior project film that it would be in a horror-esque genre because it is what I most enjoy writing and watching myself. My goal was to create a simple, yet metaphorically deep narrative that a wide-ranging audience could connect to; and so, I chose the theme of happiness—particularly what constitutes happiness and the dangers of abusing artificial means to become happy. It came to be that I used a carnival, or in this case, one specific carnival tent, as a symbol for such artificial happiness. After the main character, Jacob, becomes addicted to visiting this tent, he begins to see his reality deteriorate, and how the thing that he had thought made him happy, actually becomes the thing that haunts him most.

Focusing on a small cast of characters I think is important for a short film as it allows sufficient time to develop them without rushing over. It also helped me keep organized for my first big production having only 4 actors. I was happy to have a variety of actor types; from a theatre student, to my own family, to recruiting an actor online from NYC. I spent the majority of my first semester planning the shoot, finding and buying props, writing a shot list, and was able to complete about 75% of the filming in November 2019. Throughout my editing over winter break, I marked shots that needed reshooting and planned to finish the remaining scenes in March of 2020.

I was mostly inspired by episodic shows like The Twilight Zone, Goosebumps, and Black Mirror, which contain a horror/fantasy tone and often a twist ending. I have watched and read this style of narrative since I was very young, and it’s become my passion to tell stories in that way. I love surprising the audience and giving them room for interpretations of their own. With Happyville, I hope I was able to create something modern that feels fresh and unique while portraying a mood of fear and fantasy. I hope it entertains for those who enjoy a good horror film, while offering metaphorical depth on the idea of happiness for those who wish to take away new perspectives.

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