Waiver ReleaseGenre: Found Footage

Logline: After spending so much time alone, they just wanted to do something together.

Backward Slate Productions was still heads down on their feature, Bong of the Living Dead, and I was jonezin’ to do the 48 Hour Film Project this year. I could have signed up with another team, or I could opt to toss my hat in the producer’s ring and form my own team.

Time for Whispering Daemon Productions to produce its first 48.

This year’s elements were:

  • Character: Dennis or Denise Smith (an assistant)
  • Prop: An extension cord
  • Line of dialogue: “That’s not a real word.”

We had decided going in that we were going to take the wildcard genre, no matter what. We tried to pass on the draw entirely, but KC made us draw anyway. Walking away with sci-fi in my hand gave me pause, but we still opted for wildcard.  I was secretly terrified we were going to draw operetta, and I was only slight less agitated when we drew found footage. (Max, on the other hand, said something to the effect of, “Dammit. I hate found footage.”)

We had 48 hours to write, shoot, edit, and submit a short film, and we were already uncomfortable. Perfect. Discomfort forces creativity.

If the writing process for Carpool was “challenging,” then the writing process for Waiver/Release was damn near inconceivable. It took us ten (that’s right, TEN) hours to come up with a four page script. Seriously.

But I’ll be damned if it wasn’t worth every minute.

Max, Derek, and I agreed early on that we didn’t want to write horror. (Correction: We all DESPERATELY wanted to write horror, but it was too obvious, too comfortable.) We needed to write something different, something unexpected.

In the end, we did just that.

Unfortunately, we got caught up in the edit and we didn’t make the deadline for competition. (Note to self: have a DIT on every 48 shoot from now on. No exceptions!) We did get a copy to KC in time to be included in the screening groups, but I was working in Chicago all week and had to miss out on the fun.

Since the screenings, folks have reacted to the short with words like haunting, beautifulbrilliant, and simply wow. I’ve also heard it referred to as sadconfusing, and disturbing.

Going into this year’s 48 Hour Film Project, I was up front with everyone on our team: I didn’t want to make a “48.” I wanted to use the 48 to make a moving, powerful, emotional short film that we were all proud to have been a part of.

Waiver/Release is evocative. The story has a fundamentally positive message, but we’re not going to hand it to you. We wanted to create a story that would encourage conversation after seeing the short. That conversation wasn’t meant to be comfortable, folks, but it’s necessary.

I fully expect audiences to view this short through the filters of their own lives. Still, I want to share a pair of spoiler-free insights from this writer in particular for anyone who wants to strike up a conversation.

  1. Our connections in life matter. They influence our decisions, both positive and negative.
  2. It’s easier to watch from the other side of the camera lens than it is to get involved and take action. Watching changes nothing.

If you want to talk it out, you know how to reach me. If you just want to sit back, read the screenplay, watch the short, and take it all in, you can hit the links below.

Waiver/Release – Directors Cut from Jerod Brennen on Vimeo.

Download screenplay:  Waiver/Release



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