Text Version:The still, brisk morning air of north Chicago was enough to make the fair-skinned woman hit the snooze button two times too many. The warmth of her blanket and softness of her pillows made her want to stay in that curled position forever. She turns her body to the window to come eye to eye with a tattered-winged pigeon, who seemed to be judging her, demanding her to get out of bed and start her day. She listens. Sleepwalking down the stairs of her apartment, she makes a cup of coffee and cream and prepares for the rest the day. Once her perfect, brown hair is done just right and her apparel satisfies her, she makes her way downstairs and out the door to encounter a sea of taxis. She hops in the mustard car. “435 North Michigan please”, she says quietly to the bearded man at the wheel. After ten minutes of a silent drive, she steps out onto the sidewalk and looks up to see the breathtaking skyscraper that she knew as her work. Through the gliding doors, she is greeted by the receptionist, whose name she is too afraid to ask for. The elevator brings her to the twenty-second floor. She then is sent on a coffee run. Her fourth week as a writer for the Chicago Tribune and she questions why she is still making coffee runs. She complains in her head but knows that she is much too afraid to ask for anything more. Hit the snooze button. Make coffee. Get dressed. Hop in taxi. Go to work. Fetch the coffee. Return home, write and then sleep. A month has gone by and her daily routine never changes. Returning home from a quiet meal by herself, Reagan turns to come face to face with bold, red letters that spelled, “Missing!”. A picture of a smiling small boy no older than nine sits under the stapled, cream paper. Tommy Watson, the name read. Reagan’s face sunk like a deer in the headlights while she stood there imagining what him and his family must be going through. Her smart phone vibrates in her jean pockets. She opens her phone to see four messages from her boss telling her to come in to work immediately. Confused and nervous, she glances back at the boy’s picture and then makes her way to North Michigan Street. The thoughts of why her boss needed her so urgently swirled in her mind. Was she fired? Did she do something wrong? Did she upset her? The countless amount of possibilities halted her. She felt as if her lungs were full of strings that were being pulled different directions. Gasping for air, she grabs her torso. “Pull yourself together Reagan, this job means everything to you, don’t blow it,” she whispered to herself in between gasps. After a few deep breaths and a splash of fountain water in her face, she continues her walk anxiously to the building. She had never been in the skyscraper at night. The view of the sparkling city on the elevator ride up to the twenty-second floor gave her a quick sense of tranquility that she hadn’t felt before. When the doors of the elevator opened, she made her way to the conference room to see a group of her advisors, sitting around the table, with worried expressions on all of their faces. “Reagan! thank God.” her boss said sternly. “W-what’s going on?” she asked quietly. “We need a reporter on the new Watson boy case.” As soon as she said his last name, Reagan knew exactly who she was referring to. The little boy she saw on the poster just moments before. “M-me?” She responded. “Yes you. Why else would we bring you in at a quarter to midnight?” Reagan looks down, not knowing how to reply. “The Watson family lives in Rockville, about 90 miles outside of Chicago.” She hands Reagan a picture of a family of five, a woman and a man who appear to be parents of the other three, a male who seemed to be Reagan’s age, early twenties, a teenage girl and the same little boy who Reagan knew to be missing. “We are going to send you as a representative for the Chicago Tribune to stay with the investigating team. We want this to be one of our greatest reports yet. Pack your things. You’ll leave tomorrow.” She nods, takes the stacked paperwork she is handed and returns home. That night everything seemed different. The wind danced outside her window, the sound of blaring car horns filled the air. The pressure of her first report weighed on her shoulders like a piano and the expectations of working with strangers was enough to make her feel faint, but still, all she could focus on was Tommy. She somehow knew that she needed to push her emotions to the side in order to focus on getting this little boy home. Hours later, sunlight finally filled her room and Reagan got ready as normal. When she came down the stairs and into the street, she was greeted by a large black suburban that drove her ninety miles to Rockville, Illinois. She was shocked at what she saw upon arrival. The paint of houses was chipped and unfinished. The roads filled with trash and empty beer bottles. Wrinkled faces in rags and blankets sat helplessly near dumpsters and gutters. Reagan had not seen a neighborhood like this since she moved out of mother’s house in second grade. Driving through these neighborhoods made her wonder where her mother was. She had not seen her since that day in second grade, the day she moved in with her grandparents, who changed her life forever. “We’re here.” The driver said, bringing her back to reality. Reagan turns to see a setting that would never leave her mind. The yellow house where a happy family once smiled for a picture in the front lawn was covered in Chicago Police Department tents and caution tape. Reagan’s heart began to jump out of her chest. She was lead to the first tent and was introduced to the chief investigator and his assistants. She could tell right away that they were annoyed with her presence. Reagan sat down on a wooden chair in the claustrophobic tent and began to write down her observations. Suddenly another man entered the tent swiftly and began to point at the large map placed on the table, quietly discussing with an investigator next to him. Somehow she knew this man but she could not recall how. Their eyes met and Reagan quickly looked away while he walked towards her. “Who are you?” he asked. “Reagan,” she answered quietly. “I’m sorry?” he asked, she cleared her throat and spoke up. “Reagan Miller, I-i’m the reporter on this case for the Chicago Tribune.” He stared back at her with his piercing ocean eyes, nodded and said, “Alex. Alex Watson.” The name stung her like a wasp. Watson.. He was the brother of Tommy. “Watson?” She replied quietly, “I’m so sorry about your brother.” He looked down when he heard her words. She could tell he was fighting back emotion. “We’re going to find him.” she nodded, “I am going to find him.”. She glanced back down to her journal, not knowing what else to say. He stared at her, then returned to the map and paperwork and continued working from where he left off. The day went on, Reagan was introduced to more investigators on the case and the rest of the Watson family but usually kept her distance for she would get anxious anytime someone talked to her. Whenever she needed to calm down she would look at her father’s journal. He died when Reagan was young so his journal is the only thing she has left of him. They are what inspired her to become a journalist. His wise words and advice always calmed her, She brought it everywhere. The next couple of days went by very slowly. No news on Tommy’s whereabouts but no one ever let down. They stayed there all day and all night, the investigators searching, talking, researching and Reagan, observing and reporting. Alex was working with the investigators, he was the most determined of them all. Reagan rarely talked to him and when she did, she never knew what to say. The third day she was there, the investigators received an anonymous tip that Tommy was spotted on a hiking trail two miles from their house. All of the investigators in her assigned tent left on the search mission so Reagan was left in the tent alone. She used this time to look through the records of his disappearance and the map used to pinpoint locations and recorded the details in her journal. After hours of research and sat with the same question she had the first day she arrived here. How could a nine year old boy disappear without a single trace? The mix of confusion and fatigue overwhelmed her and she fell back in her chair. After a few deep breaths, her smart phone began to ring. When she glanced at the screen of phone she saw an incoming call from No Caller ID. Curiously, she answered, “Hello?”. The voice on the other end was deep and unrecognizable, “We have Tommy.” Her heart stopped when she heard those three words. She didn’t know what to do or say. She couldn’t move. “Bring $5,000 cash to the bench on the bridge by midnight tonight. Tell anyone about this message and the boy dies.” Before she could say anything, the call ended. Stunned, her hand opened and the phone dropped to the floor. The next thing Reagan remembers is waking up with a water cloth on her forehead and Alex and the other investigators around her. “Are you alright? We found you passed out on the floor—” Without answering, she sat up slowly and gathered her things. All Reagan could hear in her head was the phone call, “…Tell anyone about this message and the boy dies.” She knew that she needed to get out of there and get the money so she ran. She ran out of the tent, and ran down the road until she found a place to stop and compose herself. All Reagan could think was why me? Why was this little boy put at risk for her money? Her breaths became quicker and her eyes filled with tears. Reagan spent her whole life doing everything in her power to blend in. She never wanted to be different or stand out because she never wanted to come across as an attention seeker. Reagan’s body was shaking. She was confused with how she found herself in this situation. All she knew for certainty in that moment was that she had to do everything she could to save this little boy from information that she chose to keep secret. It was eight o’clock. Four hours until midnight. She made her way to the town and combined the cash she had in her bag and the cash she had in her grandparent’s bank account and made her way to the only bridge in the whole town. A singular street light flickered in the mist. Reagan watched her digital clock turn to eleven-fifty. Knowing she had ten minutes to save the little boy, Reagan made her way across the bridge to a wooden bench that stood alone. Trembling in fear, she places the bag of money under the bench and runs. She ran and ran until unconsciously ending up at the Watson’s home. She hid herself behind a tree, terrified of being seen and having to explain what she went through while she was gone. Her eyes, glazed with tears, became full of flashing blue and red lights. She was frozen. Her mind filled with unimaginable thoughts of Tommy’s whereabouts. She fell to the ground, defeated and heartbroken. She knew that she did not do enough for him. Suddenly, the sound of Tommy’s name being called was thundering and clear. Reagan looked up and in the arms of Alex and the entire Watson family was Tommy. Disbelief and utter relief consumed Reagan’s mind and body. She did not know who took him, why they did it, and she didn’t even know Tommy. But she did know that her job there was done. Once Reagan knew that Tommy was safe from afar, she hopped in a cab and made her way back to Chicago with no explanation. No one could know what she did to get Tommy back, especially Alex. Her father always said that the greatest people on Earth are the most humble. Her whole life she thought that it would be simple to be humble if she just hid everything that made her privileged, including her grandparent’s wealth. The day after her return, she completely forgot about the whole reason she was there in the first place, but that didn’t matter anymore. “Where have you been? Where is my story?!” her boss screamed through the phone. Reagan knew the answer, she knew that she had an excellent report in her hands but she trusted her gut instinct that this was not a story that anyone deserved to tell. “I must have lost my notebook in the travel. I deeply apologize that I returned without a report.” Reagan responded, for the first time in her life, confidently. The words, “You’re fired.” were no surprise to Reagan, but for some reason, she did not mind. She knew that in the end, she did the right thing. A month passes and Reagan returns to her everyday routine. Hit the snooze button. Make coffee. Get dressed. Hop in taxi. Attend job interviews. Return home, write and then sleep. Occasionally she checked news articles on Tommy’s safe return back to their home and smiled whenever she saw Alex who had seemed to be a different, happy person. She spent her nights reading her father’s journal, facetiming her grandparents and writing about her experiences on the Watson case. She had fewer anxiety attacks. Whenever she walked down a street, she did not look away whenever another person made eye contact, she said hello. After a night of interviews for a new journalist position at the local police department, Reagan turned the corner of her street to come face to face with Alex, who was standing on the steps of her apartment. “The chief investigator of Tommy’s case gave me your address.” Alex said with a smile, “What are you doing here, Alex?” Reagan asked, her face full of confusion yet joy. “I never had the chance to thank you. Tommy knew nothing about the people who took him and why they returned him yet the one thing he told us what that ‘Reagan saved me.’” Their eyes met yet this time Reagan didn’t look away. “Now I don’t know what you did or how you did it. All I know is that whatever you did, saved my brother. I could never thank you enough.” Not knowing how to reply, Reagan just smiled and asked him if he wanted to grab coffee. The two made their way downtown. Reagan knew that all of the trouble and heartbreak she went through in her life was worth it because a little boy’s life now belonged to him, when it did not always. Tommy had changed her life and she had changed his without even knowing each other. “So… tell me about him.” Reagan said to Alex, “I want to know everything.”
Behind the Scenes of the Short Story Audio
This image shows the process of putting music, sound effects and ambient noise over my recording of my short story, using the application, Adobe Audition CC.
This piece was created with the paintbrush tool on Adobe Illustrator. I was stuck when deciding what to do so I just decided to hand draw my brain. I added three words within my brain; love, stress, and dream. Those words came to me without thinking and I put them in. I valued this project because of how much freedom we were given. I enjoyed taking images from my head and putting them on the computer screen.
Behind the Scenes
The following are screenshots of the process I took in Adobe Illustrator to create my personal illustrations and my banners.
What were you challenged to produce? In the narrative unit in Film at Freestyle, we were challenged to create a short film that followed the three act story structure and contained no dialogue. We were given an immense amount of freedom during this project, we were given the chance to create and pitch our stories to the class for feedback, collaborate with partners, create artboards, cast and find locations, film and edit over the span of 4 months.
I valued this process and production more than anything I have ever created in school before. This process has taught me so much more about film, storytelling, cameras, direction and editing software in the span of 4 months, than I have learned in my whole life. This process also taught me a lot about myself and the kind of worker, creator and partner that I want to be. This process has also taught me which roles I prefer to take when creating film (because there is a thousand of them).
I would love to thank Mr. Taylor for teaching me everything I know about film and all of my teachers at Freestyle for always being supportive and for making my junior year of high school more enjoyable than any year so far. I would also love to thank my film classmates for the supportive and encouraging feedback and for helping me throughout this process. Finally I need to thank my incredible family for spending countless hours with me over the past couple of months, putting their time, effort and money into helping my partner and I create the film that we envisioned.
Without further ado, I hope you enjoy my final work and the crazy process it took in order to complete them.
A synopsis is a page-long description of our film from beginning to end. We submitted our synopsis’ following our pitches to the class in November, so you will notice that the synopsis is very different from the final product. Below is a link to a PDF of my synopsis or “rough draft” of my story. JordanS – Narrative Synopsis
Storyboarding is a very common practice that is used in many major film production companies, such as Disney, Dreamworks, Sony, etc. Storyboards are sketches of your film, shot by shot, to give you an idea of what works and what does not. We were challenged to create storyboards for every shot of our film in 100 notecards and more. Here are our storyboards below:
Junior Narrative Film
All of our work in pre-production (synopsis, storyboards, etc) helped us create our film as a whole. Below is our final product of my Junior Narrative Film.
Behind the Scenes
Below are screenshots from my editing process in Adobe Premiere.
D.W. Griffith is one of the most influential creators in film history. He is responsible for creating a variety of rules and techniques in film that have been respected and followed to this day. The technique that we studied the most in film class at Freestyle was “Griffith’s Pattern”. Griffith’s Pattern is used in film to introduce characters, setting and conflict by starting outside of the setting and moving in, shot by shot, until you end with a close-up of your characters. Mr. Taylor challenged us, in a group of 4, to create, film and edit a scene using Griffith’s Pattern, without sound, in under 1 hour. Here is the product of what my group and I created:
Chase scenes are oftenly found in film, from features to shorts, they create exciting and intense scenes for the audience. Mr. Taylor challenged us to create our own chase scenes with original plots. We were given a couple of days to create, film and edit our scenes. Here is the product of what I created:
After an in-depth lesson on suspense and its importance in certain films, Mr. Taylor challenged us, in groups of 3, to create, film and edit a suspenseful scene, with no sound, in under 1 hour. This lesson definitely taught me the importance of turning off “Auto Focus” in our cameras because that was one huge mistake we made in this short time period. Here is the product of what my group and I created: