Written by Stephen J. O'Kane and Clint Horvath
Early in 2021, I was approached by producer/actor Lj Ugarte (Shut Up, You!), to fill in as the director of a beautiful short film being produced by Shweta Soni. The story is about an older overweight depressed woman who comes across a skittish stray dog who helps her understand her beauty within herself. We learn through her growth development that she's been molested as a child by an estranged uncle.
The story is very personal to Soni. I told Lj to connect me to Shweta so I can discuss the possibility of directing it. A few hours later, I was on a call with Shweta and she was going over the premise and passion she had for the project. She was putting the whole thing together from a to z. She had a writer write the script based on her story. She was putting together the crew and securing the locations with Lj. It was all coming together. For me, that's a huge task, and the fact that other people were invested to do then that's great. The only thing left was for me to read the script.
The script was sent immediately and I read it that night. I didn't take notes or plan shots yet. I just wanted it to settle before giving it a lot of thought. The story was very impactful and had a lot of meaning to Shweta. The next night I gave it a second read so I can asset how I was going to tackle it. I broke it down by shoot days/locations based on my experience. After I broke down the script, it looked to have about 20 days of shooting, which was way too many days of production the producers had allotted. Given the timeframe, Lj and Shweta had I was not able to continue as a director on the film. But because of their enthusiasm and my connection to Lj I wanted to be a part of it somehow.
I touched base with Shweta over the next few weeks giving her tips to make producing easier and things to look out for. I rewrote the script based on a director's view so it flows easily and is clear to the point. First draft writer, Stephen J. O'Kane did a great job with the layout and emotion of the story. I went in and focused on the emotion of the character and rewrote based on the number of shots I would do. I kept everything he originally wrote because I wanted to respect the process.
Given my background as an artist, I also decided to help score the film and do the artwork. This story/film became personal to me as well and I look forward to seeing the final product and having worked on it.
*NOTE: I do not own the rights to the above image. It is clearly a depiction representing the story.