What I found in THE BOX

I just finished writing American Enemy, my next short film, and am now raising money to produce it. Here’s my “artistic statement” in its entirety. I’ll be submitting this to Screencraft’s $20,000 funding contest on Friday.

I’m not a car chase dude. Some filmmakers get off on crazy stunts, spaceships, and CGI, but that’s never been my thing. At film school, they talk a lot about finding your voice. Which, honestly, has been super hard to understand. I guess it’s like my style, my point of view, it’s the thing that makes the story I’m telling unique to me. It’s my flavor. But even after understanding it conceptually, I’ve still struggled to actually identify what my voice is.

I don’t know! I’m just a dude who likes to keep it real. I like to say what I feel, without fear of the consequences. I want to make movies that confront decisions and desires most people aren’t comfortable with and then submerge them in a world of it.

Handmaid’s Tale is a perfect example. Watching it, I realized how much they take their time. They don’t run from discomfort, they lean into it. They stay with the characters and we learn the world with them, at their pace. We get to absorb it. To imagine all the quiet moments. All the minutia. The mundane. We get to spend the night and wake up — back in the nightmare. Handmaid’s Tale puts you right there. We feel every minute of what Offred is living through.

That’s my jam! They take this really morally trying situation — most women have become infertile and the world’s population is dying off. The few women that can still make babies are enslaved and ritually raped to produce offspring — and they immerse us in it. Offred, the protagonist, is one of the few, fertile women. But she’s not Lara Croft or Wonder Woman. She’s scared, she’s timid, she’s mostly alone. She can’t just shoot her way out.

That’s what interests me. The morally challenging, gray areas we have to navigate when there’s no right answer and every decision comes at a heavy cost.

That’s where I’m at. That’s what I know about my voice. I admire stories that sit with or culminate in a tremendous inner struggle. Fincher’s Se7en immediately comes to mind. When Brad Pitt points his gun at Kevin Spacey’s head right after Morgan Freeman learns the contents of the box!! — that’s what the fuck I’m talking about!

That’s the moment I want to watch. That’s the moment I want to create!

That’s what American Enemy is. It’s a movie about Willis, a good-hearted “everyman” trapped in an impossible, morally ambiguous situation with no right answer. With everything closing in on him, he is forced to choose what he feels is most right, and live with the consequences.

Winning this grant helps me make a film about that.

Thank you for your time and consideration!

Emil Gallardo