"The Guy" is the story of Tony, a young man who's afflicted night after night by the same monotonous dream.
The dream goes like this. It is a foggy morning. There is an open bay. He is rowing out into infinity. He stops. There is a thump.
Then he wakes up.
Tony lives at home with his mother who is recovering from a tragic incident in their family's past. She is slowly losing her mind. Tony is the only one around to take care of her. Between that and working every day at the local diner, The Ornery Owl, he has very little time to live life for himself.
On this particular day, Tony goes to work as usual. It becomes quite unusual, however, when he notices a girl sitting across the restaurant, staring at him longingly.
That girl is Heather.
After a brief introduction, it is revealed that Heather frequents the diner every day with the intention of talking to Tony. She, like Tony, is shy and a little awkward.
Unfortunately, Tony has promised his mother that he would play Parcheesi with her that night (as he does every night.) Upset at this lame excuse, Heather bursts from her seat and flees from the diner. Tony rushes after her, equally upset, but she is long gone. His next decision will alter the course of the entire universe.
Tony bikes to the beach. Gets in a boat. He rows to the middle of the ocean.
He stops. There is a thump.
Across from him, another guy has appeared seemingly from out of nowhere. This new guy, Toni, abruptly throws Tony overboard and attempts to drown him. There is a brief struggle.
And then Toni wakes up.
Toni is the polar opposite of Tony. He is the physical manifestation of everything Tony wishes his personality could be. Confident, aggressive and caring little about anyone but himself, Toni has taken Tony's place in the universe.
What happens next acts plot point by plot point, prop by prop, and set dressing by set dressing as a surreal mirror of the previous day. Tony's universe bends and folds to accommodate this new persona. All the characters remain the same as Toni goes through the motions of Tony’s day, yet the world and all that comprise it have become a violent place over which he has complete control.
Confused? Take a look at these two scenes from the opposing worlds.
Will Tony return and re-establish balance in the universe? Or will Toni run wild and free through this parallel world? How many times has this happened, and how many iterations of Tony have there actually been? All of the questions will be answered by the conclusion of this 12-minute short film.
Hi, my name is Jon Fusco and I assure you I'm completely sane. I first had the idea for this story week after graduating from the Experimental Theater Wing at NYU. My friends and I were sitting around somewhere off the coast of the Eastern seaboard when we came up with a series of images and rules for a short film anthology.
The structure was such: at the beginning of the story a guy wakes up, at some point in the story another guy drowns him, and at the end, he must wake up again. What happened in between was up to each of us to decide. Eventually, all the stories would all be able to connect.
In the end, I was the only one who went on to write a short, but I stuck to the same intention of creating an open framework. My idea was to create a piece of work that was entirely open to audience interpretation. I wanted to write something that provided plot points and just enough information for the audience's imagination to fill in the holes and create a story of their own.
I tested this method by sending the script to some friends when the first draft was finished. It worked. In fact, I'd say the most rewarding part of this whole thing so far has been hearing the theories they've given me in feedback.
Three years later. This script is finally ready to be shot.
There is so much room to play here because we have two mirrored worlds.
Tony’s world draws largely from David Lynch’s Twin Peaks before all surreal hell breaks loose. He lives in a small, normal looking town, but there may be something boiling underneath the surface. We’re going to use a lot of natural and soft lighting. In a setting that is almost perpetually foggy, that means very little light will be entering the picture at all. The town is ethereal, isolated, and weird. The feel of this first world should be somewhere between an eighties Carpenter/Cronenberg slasher flick and a fifties sitcom like Leave it to Beaver.
In contrast, the second world, Toni’s world, will employ strategies that make the image feel surreal. We’ll use a more vintage lens to achieve this look. The world will feel more theatrical and we’ll be able to play around with stylized lighting within our locations.
I’m really interested in building atmospheric tension throughout the entirety of this film. That means lots of foreboding establishing shots and many moments of stillness. These sort of strategies, often employed in horror by John Carpenter and more recently David Robert Mitchell, make the world feel more rich and immersive for the audience.
An emphasis on atmosphere marks the difference between a classic and a middling horror film.
Jon Fusco - "Tony", Writer/Director
Jon Fusco has been making a living as a jack of all trades since graduating from NYU's Tisch School of the Arts with a questionably useful BFA in Acting. He has worked for film publications like SnagFilms, Indiewire and is now a lead producer at No Film School, where he has been responsible for establishing, editing and hosting The No Film School Podcast, a show that is frequently among Apple's Top 25 Film & TV podcasts.
Mitch Uranowitz - "Heather"
Michelle "Mitch" Uranowitz is a New York based actor, writer, and teacher, proudly hailing from West Orange, New Jersey. She has a BFA from NYU's Tisch School of the Arts where she currently teaches movement and physical training to actors. As a professional actor, she has worked here in NYC and abroad with renowned theatre directors such as Karin Coonrod, Louis Scheeder, Rachel Chavkin, Tim Carroll, and Kevin Kuhlke.
Matt Wood - Barney
Matt met Jon while studying abroad at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art during his senior year at NYU. Upon graduation, they continued collaborating on a variety of projects, from Experimental theater to internet sketch comedy. Matt’s work can be seen on such shows as Law and Order SVU, The Michael J Fox Show, Hulu’s Difficult People and even a few commercials hawking various goods and sundries. His sketch comedy work with group’s Woodsmith Wolfehohnke, Dolla Pizza, and Terms and Conditions can be found on YouTube and Funny or Die.
Adam Gundersheimer - Director of Photography
Originally from Chicago-land, Adam graduated from NYU in 2011 with a concentration in cinematography. He has been the cinematographer on over 40 short films, music videos, and documentaries.
Vanessa Haddad - Production Designer
Vanessa is an artist and filmmaker originating from Chicago, Illinois. She graduated from The Cooper Union for The Advancement of Science and Art in 2014 with a concentration on installation, animation, and film. Vanessa has been a production designer for many short films, features, commercials, and music videos.
Jade Porter - Producer
Jade Porter lives in Brooklyn, NY where she works as a freelancer in film and television production. Her directorial debut, Concrete Futuro, is a feature documentary about the rising skateboarding movement in Mexico. She also directed the short film, You Don't Hair starring Lily Baldwin and works with her friends on their short films.
Our main goals in budgeting this film are to earn enough money to give everyone on the crew their due and to give our art department enough to develop a detailed production design.
Of course, providing everyone with food, housing and transportation (in addition to other location fees) run up the cost of production fast.
Pre Production Fees - 4%
The cost of traveling to Maryland from New York City to do technical scouts prior to production.
Camera, Lighting, Sound - 17%
We're looking to partner with some gear companies to get discounted rates and keep the costs for equipment minimal. It's often said, "it's not the tools that you use to tell your story, it's how you choose to tell it." That's true, but we're looking to shoot on an Arri Amira, using anamorphic lenses and both of these are pricey options.
Art Department (Production Design) - 11%
This short will truly shine if we are able to sink money into purchasing props, set dressing, and costumes. We want to give our art department the most money we can to make each frame burst with mirrored detail.
Food, Travel, Accommodations - 26%
All of these costs start to mount up really, really quickly. It's important that we provide our crew with everything they need to be happy, rested and have a positive attitude on set.
Cast + Crew - 37%
We've got a great group of people involved on this project. Too often short films like this one can't provide their crew with the pay they truly deserve. I'd like to avoid that.
Contingency - 5%
Finally, we set aside a portion of the budget for any emergencies that might occur.
Pledge $75 and you get one of these awesome mugs featuring the logo of the diner where Tony works and designed by Brandon Allen!
Or pledge $10 and you get a sweet bumper sticker with the same design.
Risks and challenges
I face the same risks and challenges as any other first-time filmmaker. None of those have deterred me from fully going after my vision with this script.
There are a few challenging sequences in the film that will be difficult to shoot. Many say first-time filmmakers should stick to the easiest shoot possible. But my project would not be the same without water, blood, and a certain level of production value that will allow me to achieve the desired aesthetic.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (31 days)