Ollie, 8, is left in a rural town with his estranged family. A boy vanishes and Ollie becomes aware of a strange presence in the woods.
Out There tells the story of Ollie, an eight year old boy, who is abruptly abandoned by his mother and left with his deadbeat father, Carl, and teenage half-brother, Collum, in a strange, decrepit town haunted by the disappearance of a little boy. Left on his own the first night, Ollie witnesses an inexplicable light phenomenon in the woods behind the house. Before he can investigate further the lights disappear. The next day, Ollie runs into the boy’s father, Wilson, and becomes intrigued when he learns that Wilson believes his son was abducted. The two of them form an unlikely bond despite the fact that the rest of the town has pinned Wilson as the primary suspect in his son’s disappearance. Convinced of Wilson’s innocence, Ollie tries to find the source of the lights and makes a startling discovery, forcing Ollie and Wilson to question whether there is something out there after all.
With this film, I am imagining the psychology of people wanting to believe in an outer worldly presence and the situations that lead them to that place. While in this story the presence is a literal, physical being, I also want the story to be an exploration of the more universal question of faith and what hope and strength can be found in things that cannot necessarily be proven as well as what is possibly overlooked or left unquestioned in maintaining those beliefs. Each character has a different perspective of reality and is rewarded and suffer in different amounts because of this. The story looks at our faith in humankind and our belief in the unknown. The central mystery of Wilson’s innocence divides the characters and hopefully the audience as well as they reach their own conclusions about what really happened to Wilson’s kid and what Ollie is actually seeing. Ultimately, I hope that the film will force its audience to grapple with the question of how much they want the characters to remain in their fantasies by the end. In doing so, they will be asked to look at themselves and how they may act in situations that often do not have a definitive truth.
Out There takes place in a world saturated with isolation and loss but also hidden signals of potential for beauty and hope. The visual style will match the story and tread the balance between momentary feelings of transcendence and the stark reality that Ollie’s escaping. We’ll be shooting in desolate and decaying landscapes using composition, camera movement and lighting designed to find sparks of lyricism and grace in these spaces. Employing a predominantly handheld camera and longer takes, the film will have a feeling of fluidity and unexpected intimacy.
The characters of Out There are frustrated by the deficiencies of the world in which they feel trapped.In a earlier brighter decade the town was home to a profitable manufacturing industry and productive blue collar workers. As demand declined and large employers shuttered their factories, the town and its inhabitants fell into a state of increasing decline and decay. It is now a small, slow-moving town with little access to the outside world, a place lacking ambition and full of boredom. Its inhabitants have little to occupy their minds until they become fixated by the mystery of Wilson’s missing child.
Because one of the main questions of the film is whether or not Ollie is imagining the phenomenon he sees, much of the camera work will be designed to feel subjective and personalized in order to bring the audience into his world. In the moments when he’s on his own, I will bring the camera into the center of the action, using POV and tracking shots to capture the experience of exploring this foreign place. The audience will discover things as he does, allowing to make their own conclusions about what he is seeing.
Jennifer Cho Suhr, Writer/Director
A first-generation Korean American, filmmaker Jennifer Cho Suhr hails from Barrington, Illinois where she got her creative career started as a classically trained cellist. She received her B.A. from Yale University studying American Studies and Ethnicity, Race, & Migration and worked in independent film doing development and editing for commercials and documentary.
As an MFA candidate at New York University’s graduate film program, she has written and directed several short films and music videos and was a recipient of the Tisch School of the Arts Fellowship. Her last film, Saeng-il (Birthday), screened at numerous festivals and received the Audience Award at both the Gen Art Film Festival 2011 as well as the First Run Film Festival.
Colin Whitlow, Producer
Colin Whitlow has worked as an independent producer and technology strategist for the last seven years. He helped bring YouTube to maturity, working as a Senior Strategist for the company for five years prior to moving to New York. While living in San Francisco, he produced several programs related to the tech industry. In 2010, he joined NYU’s selective MBA/MFA dual degree to continue pursuing film producing. Hailing from the coastal town of White Stone, Virginia, he graduated from the University of Virginia with degrees in photography, experimental film and literature. Colin is entering his final year at NYU.
Heather Jack, Producer
Heather Jack has worked in the film industry for over ten years in film development and production. She has produced numerous projects, including narrative films, online content, and branded entertainment for clients including Subway, the I Love New York tourism campaign, Cisco, and Vita Coco. She recently completed coursework for New York University's Dual Degree MBA/MFA film producing program at Stern School of Business and Tisch School of the Arts. Prior to graduate school, Heather worked at Jerry Bruckheimer Films in feature film production, and her credits include National Treasure 2, Confessions of a Shopaholic, and G-Force. Heather began her film career at MGM in feature development and physical production, where she contributed to the production of movies such as The Amityville Horror and The Pink Panther. Heather is currently a freelance independent producer based in New York.
Shane Sigler, Director of Photography
Shane Sigler is an accomplished cinematographer working in documentaries, feature films, commercials, and music videos. Shane studied film at University of Virginia and assisted acclaimed filmmaker/photographer Bruce Weber for five years. Shane is currently shooting a feature documentary about Philip Glass and Robert Wilson’s opera Einstein on the Beach for director John Walter. Other feature credits include Michael Moore’s Capitalism: A Love Story, Bruce Weber’s A Letter to True, and Paul Morrissey’s News From Nowhere. Commercial clients include Chanel, Ralph Lauren, Christian Dior, Levi’s, UPS, IBM, Pringle of Scotland, Johnson and Johnson, Abercrombie and Fitch, Aeropostale, Tommy Hilfiger, Coach, Calvin Klein, Bloomingdales, Planned Parenthood, and the New York Times. Shane’s music video credits include Lady Gaga, Eliza Doolittle, Make Out, Elisa, and Lissy Trullie.
Allison Twardziak, Casting Director
As a freelance casting director based in New York City, Allison has worked in the casting departments of the feature films, “Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist,” “Paper Man,” and “Death In Love.” She cast the Sundance Film Festival short film, “Knife Point,” and the SAG Audience Choice Award short film winner at the Director’s Guild of America “Gasoline.” Allison's latest Casting Director credits include the upcoming feature films “Faith, Love and Whiskey,” “Ramblin’ Round” and the short films, “The Five Stages of Grief,” “Now Here,” “Gravity,” “Bottled,” “Little Horses,” “The Absence,” “A Lone Star State,” “Pitrats,” “Romeo Vs. Juliet,” and “Local Tourists”. Supplementing her film work, Allison has cast commercials and industrials for House Productions, HBO, Lumina Films and Campfire Films, as well as the award winning Fringe play, “I Was Tom Cruise.” She holds a B.F.A. from New York University.
We are excited to have recently received a grant from the Spike Lee Film Production Fund, a grant awarded annually based on the merit of students’ prior work and the strength of their proposed project to graduate film students to help cover the cost of producing their thesis films.
We receive many resources through NYU. However, we are still responsible with coming up with the money to produce our films. Your contributions go toward everything from feeding and transporting cast and crew to special effects and music composition for the final product.
Thank you for your support!
Images by Todd Hido, Gregory Crewdson, Alec Soth, and from the movie Ballast
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